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Who are the Baloch nationalist groups and why do they worry Pakistan and China

In spite of the threats, harassment, abductions, violence, and killings by the Pakistani forces, the Balochs continue to intensify their independence struggle (Images courtesy: Twitter/@freebalochmovt)

The blowing up of the statue of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in Gwadar on Sunday has drawn attention to the Baloch Republican Army (BRA), which has claimed that its 'sarmachars', or the freedom fighters, were involved in the act.

Both China and Pakistan are worried as Gwadar is the starting point of the strategic China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which starts in Gwadar and terminates in China's Xinjiang region.

"A statue of Muhammad Ali Jinnah on Marine Drive was destroyed by planting explosives by our sarmachars. Jinnah is seen with hatred in Balochistan. His statue and ideology have no place in Balochistan," tweeted Beebagr Baloch, the BRA spokesperson yesterday while claiming responsibility for the act.

While Pakistan daily Dawn said that it is the banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) which is behind the bombing, analysts believe it is indeed the BRA which has conducted the operation.

In their quest for independence from Pakistani rule – and also the growing Chinese influence in the region due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – several insurgent groups have intensified their movement in Pakistan's largest province in terms of land area.

Targeting the Frontier Corps – which operates in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – and also the Chinese, the splinter groups have renewed violence in the last few months.

The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which was designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) in 2010 by the US Department of State has claimed the responsibility for a bomb attack on a vehicle of the Frontier Corps in the Khosat area of Harnai district on Saturday which left four security personnel dead and several others injured.


Writing in the Dawn after the BLA attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi last year, retired police officer Tariq Parvez said that along with BLA and BRA, the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) are the three main groups operating in the province.

Parvez said that while the BLA is "formally" being headed by London-based Harbiyar Marri, the BRA is led by Brahmdagh Bugti based in Switzerland and Allah Nazar Baloch is the boss of the BLF.

All three ethnic Baloch groups, along with the Baloch Republican Guard, had formed an alliance to launch the Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS) a couple of years ago.

In spite of the threats, harassment, abductions, violence, and killings by the Pakistani forces, the Balochs continue to intensify their independence struggle.

The Baloch nationalist groups claim that authorities detain their members based on political affiliation or belief.

The people of the province expect more trouble to rise from the rubble of Jinnah's statue and a bloody weekend.

"The demolition of Quaid-e-Azam's statue in Gwadar is an attack on Ideology of Pakistan. I request authorities to punish the perpetrators in the same way as we did with those behind the attack on Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat," tweeted Pak Senator Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, a former home minister of Balochistan.

Also Read: Jinnah's statue blown up in Gwadar as violence in Balochistan surges