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Fearless Baloch women suicide bombers challenge demoralised Pak security forces

Baloch Liberation Army releases a photograph of its women fighters

The insurgency in Balochistan is getting worse with more and more women joining the Baloch nationalist armed struggle against Pakistan.

On Saturday, Sumaiya Baloch – a female suicide bomber targeted a five-vehicle convoy of Pakistani forces going from the Turbat airport in Balochistan to the ISI headquarters.

Acknowledging that the attack was carried out by a woman suicide bomber, also called fiyadees, Pakistani authorities said one policeman was killed and two others, including a lady constable, were injured.

However, Jeeyand Baloch, spokesperson for the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) said that its Majeed Brigade – the group’s suicide squad, carried out the bombing due to which “enemy forces suffered heavy losses in the attack”. The BLA statement added that soon after the bombing, “the enemy troops sealed the whole area to hide their losses. Therefore, at the time of this statement the full particulars of enemy losses cannot be ascertained”.

What is troubling is that the 25-year old fidayee was a journalist and used to write for the BLA’s media wing. Her act is a reminder of the riveting suicide bombing carried out by Shari Baloch on April 27, 2022 at Karachi University’s Confucius Institute killing its director and two teachers – all Chinese. Shari – who became the first woman suicide bomber among the Baloch was a primary school teacher and completed a masters in zoology followed by an MPhil.

The second suicide bombing by a Baloch woman points to a significant trend – that more and more Baloch women are joining the ranks of the independence movement. It also shows that the Social media platforms are repleat with photographs and videos of Baloch girls and women protesting across the province pressing the Pakistani government and military for release of family members from torture cells and prisons.

In response, Pakistan has intensified its activity of kidnapping and forcibly abducting Baloch women, students and intellectuals. Faced with increasing State brutalities, Baloch women have taken the struggle to Karachi in Sindh and Pakistani capital Islamabad as well.

Soon after the suicide bombing by Sumaiya Baloch, the BLA – the deadliest group among the several Baloch armed organisations, released a striking photograph of seven heavily-armed and masked women fighters. A caption with the photograph read: “Today, hundreds of Baloch fidayees, including Baloch women, are part of Majeed Brigade who are ready to wreck havoc upon the enemies”.

The over seven-decade conflict has resulted in a groundswell of support for armed insurgency, where the community has learnt to ignore and boycott Pakistan’s fabricated elections. Baloch politicians are elected with the support of the powerful army and not because the people have voted for them. Suspicions and animosity towards the army remain strong and have only been reinforced over the passage of time.

Pakistan’s notorious policies of keeping the province under-developed coupled with extraction of gas and minerals has resulted in alienation among the common Baloch, who feel doubly vindicated that independence from Pakistan is the only way out for progress and stability of their ethnic community.

With men getting abducted in large numbers and unidentified bodies found almost daily, the Baloch women have joined the struggle. Reportedly, Sumaiya Baloch’s grandfather, uncles and several cousins were forcibly disappeared on 18 February 2011 in the infamous Tootak operation by Pakistani agencies and Death Squad members.

Pakistan’s agencies have developed the knack of threatening and even killing Baloch journalists and activists in far off places. It has used its diaspora in European nations to threaten or beat up journalists writing on violation of human rights by Pakistan. Baloch campaigners also say that at least three activists have been found dead due to drowning in Sweden, Canada and Azerbaijan in the last three years in mysterious circumstances.

With a full scale conflict going on in Balochistan, the Pakistani Army has made the province out of bounds for the media. However, Baloch journalists have confirmed to India Narrative that the army has been using heavy weapons against the Baloch armed groups including jets, helicopter gunships and Chinese drones.

The Pakistani Army’s intense operations may only end up riling the already estranged poverty-ridden community, where the trend of suicide bombing shows that the BLA has highly motivated cadre – exactly opposite of the demoralised Pakistani security forces under daily attack in Balochistan.