Baloch Raaji Aajohi-e-Sangar’s (BRAS) deadly attack in Southern Balochistan on 18th April 2019 left 14 people dead. The usually silent Pakistan’s mainstream media — both the print and the electronic — were compelled to report the gruesome killings in the coastal town of Ormara near Gwadar. The Dawn newspaper had to deviate from the original report on the killings of “14 civilians” to “11 security among 14” killed. The umbrella organistaion of the Baloch freedom fighters BRAS in their official statement — released soon after the attack — affirmed all 14 killed were from the Pakistan Navy, Coast Guards, Air Force and the informers connected to the occupying state.
Baloch Khan — the codename of the official spokesperson of BRAS — also warned Pakistan and China to abandon Gwadar and rest of the Balochistan. The BRAS troika consists of Dr Allah Nazar Baloch’s Balochistan Liberation Front, the little known Balochistan Republican Guards and the Balochistan Liberation Army formerly led by the martyred commander Aslam Baloch — was fondly known as ‘ustad’ within the Baloch nationalist circles.
Who did it?
Prior to BRAS confirmation various theories were doing rounds on the Pakistani channels and the ISPR controlled social media activists furthering deep state’s disinformation campaign. Speaking before the Pakistani medium Muhammad Faisal from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry tried to lay the blame on India. Samaa News tried to join the dots with Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s earlier hallucinations of the possibility of an Indian attack on Pakistan between 16th – 20th April.
On Twitter F. Jeffrey (@natsecjeff) initially hinted at the possibility of IS Khurasan hitting the Pakistani security forces. Dr Farhan K Virk (@FarhanKVirk) was unable to hide his pro Punjabi inclinations; coming down heavily on the Pathans, the Baloch and other ethnic minorities in Pakistan. Punjabis alone make 52% of Pakistan’s total populace.
The Indian social media activists — some of them personally known to this scribe — also contributed by speculating the remote possibility of the false flag operation by the ISI. This may seem to be a wild conspiracy theory but it should not be brushed aside because in Pakistan’s current domestic situation nothing can be ruled out.
Recruits from Balochistan
Everybody missed out on the likelihood of the Baloch recruits serving Pakistani Army leaking BRAS the valuable information which may have contrubuted in latter carrying out the hit with perfection (much on that later).
The Baloch do not have a sizeable presence in the Pakistani Army. Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch (retd) is the sole Baloch to have ever risen to the rank of a General in the history of the Pakistan Army. Christine Fair alleges Pakistani Army has moderately succeeded in winning over some Baloch recruits by relaxing the recruitment criteria to get in more Baloch youth. Shuja Nawaz thinks the Army is rather recruiting Punjabis, Pashtuns and Hazaras instead of the Baloch from the troubled province.
Pakistan sees the Baloch participation in the Armed Forces a way of doing away with the Baloch freedom struggle by ‘mainstreaming’ the disgruntled youth to the Pakistani state. The material available on the Baloch numbers in the Pakistani Army is scanty, as good as non existent. The Baloch activists in touch with this writer gave valuable inputs. Sultan Baloch (name withheld) deduces the Baloch hatred for the Pakistani state runs so deep in the Baloch psyche at the mass level that such token measures — undertaken by Musharraf regime — cannot overcome the friction. Zafar Baloch (name withheld) told this scribe some of the pro-establishment loyalists from the sub section of the Marris and Bugtis were recruited long time ago which hasn’t had a Balochistan wide impact that Pakistanis wanted. Zafar further said Pakistani Army was largely unsuccessful in attracting the foot soldiers from the Makran region which is basically the hub of the violent nationalist movement, and, most of those who initially did recruit for Pakistan soon walked out.
The possible infiltration
It can be safely concluded in the last two decades Pakistani Army managed to employ the Baloch youngsters however marginal they maybe in numbers. The token gestures hasn’t yielded the kind of results Pakistan hoped for.
It is highly probable someone from the ethnically Baloch serving the occupiers may have ratted on the deep state. The BRAS freedom fighters — wearing the uniforms of the Pakistani security forces — approached the multiple passenger coaches. Before offloading the Pakistani personnel their CNIC cards were checked to identify the targets and their affiliation to the Pakistani Armed Forces. Such a meticoulous planning and perfect execution cannot be done without the knowledge in advance of the target and some help from the insiders in the enemy camp. Islamabad’s inability to win over the Baloch masses in all probability could well be depositing on the smaller fraction of Baloch soldiers of the Pakistani Army.
Do the Baloch freedom fighters have sympathisers amongst the Baloch employed by Pakistani Army?
Pakistani Army’s history is replete with the soldiers and the officers turning rogue; be it the Mukti Bahini of East Bengal in 1971 or the failed assassination attempts on General Pervez Musharraf’s life in 2003 when the serving officers of the army were complicit with the Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorists. With this backdrop it cannot be ruled out Rawalpindi’s investment on the Baloch youngsters may actually sink in the longer run. If Zafar Baloch’s assessment on some of the recruits from Makran region walking away from the Pakistani Army is to be believed (which this writer does) it doesn’t bode well for the Pakistanis. As stated earlier Makran is the main hub of the nationalist struggle. Some of the returnees may well have joined the armed Baloch struggle to liberate their homeland.
Pakistani Army woken up bit too late to make the Baloch fall in line. Those recruiting for the occupiers are more in it for employment than the love for the Pakistani state. Pakistan’s brutal repression, kill and dump policy, plunder et al simulatenously goes in hand with the mass protests of the Baloch men, women, elderly women, and little children. This is bound to prick the conscience of some the men in uniform from the Baloch land. The state repression was the trigger point for Mukti Bahini’s rise. Another Mukti Bahini is in the making.
Blogged by Faisal Hussain