DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

Balochistan Liberation Army

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The Balochistan Liberation Army, also known as the Baloch Liberation Army, is a terrorist organization based in Afghanistan. The BLA is listed as a terrorist organization by Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since 2004, the BLA has waged a violent armed struggle against Pakistan for what it claims as self-determination for the Baloch people and separation of Balochistan from Pakistan and has been involved in ethnic-cleansing of non-Baloch minorities in Balochistan.  The BLA is operating mainly in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan where it carries out attacks against the Pakistan Armed Forces, civilians and foreign nationals. The Baloch Liberation Army became publicly known during the summer of 2000, after it claimed credit for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities.

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Although the Balochistan Liberation Army was officially founded in 2000, the media along with some analysts speculate that the group is a resurgence of prior Baloch ethnonationalist insurgencies, and more specifically the Independent Balochistan Movement of 1973 to 1977.

According to some sources, ‘Misha’ and ‘Sasha’ (two former KGB agents) were among the architects of the original BLA. ‘Misha’ and ‘Sasha’ were the code names given to the two agents by KGB. According to the two KGB agents, the original BLA was built around the core of Baloch Student Organization (BSO). Following the withdrawal of Soviet Union from Afghanistan, BLA disappeared from the surface as its main source of funding (the Soviet Union) had withdrawn from Afghanistan.

On 10 February 1973, Pakistani police and paramilitary raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad without prior permission of the Iraqi government, during which a large cache of small arms, ammunition, grenades and other supplies were found in crates marked ‘Foreign Ministry, Baghdad’. The ammunition and weaponry was believed to be destined for Baloch rebels. Pakistan responded by expelling and declaring persona non grata the Iraqi Ambassador Hikmat Sulaiman and other consular staff. In a letter to President Nixon on 14 February, Bhutto blamed India and Afghanistan, besides Iraq and the Soviet Union, for involvement in a “conspiracy … [with] subversive and irredentist elements which seek to disrupt Pakistan’s integrity.”

Wright-Neville wrote that besides Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). However, in August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said “The dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but we recognise that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from the other direction as well.”So Pakistan’s concerns aren’t groundless. They are simply, in our judgement, somewhat exaggerated.”

Some have reported that Hyrbyair Marri has been the group’s leader since 2007, but in an interview in 2015 he denied having any contact with the group. Hyrbyair’s brother Balach had led the group from 2000 until he was killed in 2007.

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