The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) owned the responsibility for the attack. The group said that the hotel, the centerpiece of a multi-billion-dollar
Chinese project, was selected in order to target Chinese and other investors. Before we delve further, taking a brief account of BLA, its history and objectives will not be out of place.
The Balochistan Liberation Army also known as the Baloch Liberation
Army is a Baloch militant organization based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The BLA is listed as a terrorist organization by Pakistan and the United Kingdom. BLA has waged an armed struggle against the state of Pakistan for equal rights and self-determination
for the Baloch people in Pakistan, who have been subjected to repression for decades. The BLA is operating mainly in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan. The target of its anger is mainly Pakistan Armed Forces. The Baloch Liberation Army’s
moment of fame (or notoriety) came during the summer of 2000 where it owned up responsibility for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities.
The Balochistan Liberation Army is a Balochi ethnonationalist militant organization fighting against the Pakistani government for greater regional autonomy for the province of Balochistan. Most members are drawn
from the Marri or Bugti tribes. It is postulated that the BLA may also be drawing members from political youth activists. Although the group officially was founded in 2000, some analysts opine that the group is a resurgence of prior Baloch ethnonationalist
insurgencies and more specifically the Independent Balochistan Movement of 1973 to 1977.
Inception of BLA
The BLA formed in the summer of 2000 in response to growing resentment in Balochistan over
the perceived government monopoly of Balochistan’s natural resources unequal allocation of jobs and favoritism towards Punjabis over Balochi natives. The organization came to limelight after they claimed credit for a series of bombings
in markets and railways targeting Pakistani soldiers and police. Throughout the rest of the summer, the BLA claimed eight more attacks. These attacks targeted Pakistani military locations and personnel using mortar strikes. Following its founding,
the BLA’s activities, particularly from 2000-2003, are undocumented. However, in May 2003, the BLA carried out a string of attacks, killing police and non-native Baloch residents.
The following year the BLA attacked Chinese foreign workers that were involved in government-sponsored mega-development projects, which led to increased media coverage on the group and signaled the groups’
inclination to go after foreigners to draw Pakistani government attention. The Pakistani government responded to these attacks by mobilizing an estimated 20,000 additional troops to Balochistan.
Despite the government’s military presence, the BLA’s attacks continued throughout 2003 and into the summer of 2004 with car bombs and numerous IED attacks. In 2005, the group carried out an attack
on Camp Kohlu, which at the time was housing the visiting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. The Pakistani government designated the attack against Camp Kohlu as an attempt against the president’s life and led the government to label the BLA as a
terrorist organization in 2006.
Additionally, the Pakistani government began to more actively target the BLA, particularly alleged BLA
leaders. This strategy is still in use by Pakistani security forces today. On 26th August 2006, the government killed alleged leader Sardar Akbar Khan Bugti and on November 21, 2007, it killed Mir Balaach Marri.
The two alleged leaders were considered to be some of the most influential people in Balochistan. These attacks, according to the Pakistani Human Rights Commission, were perhaps
formulated to incite more counter attacks by the BLA, which could be used by the government to justify further intervention in Balochistan.
the same time, the Pakistani government gave rights to the port of Gwadar, located in southern Balochistan, to China on a forty-year lease. The BLA and many Balochis interpreted the lease as Pakistani government’s yet another tryst to colonize
Balochistan. In September of 2008, the BLA, the Balochistan Liberation Front, and the Baloch Republican Army, and Pakistan declared a ceasefire. The ceasefire was made with the understanding that the Pakistan government would meet
with the three groups for negotiations.
However, the ceasefire was ended by the BLA in January 2009 because it was upset that the Pakistani
government had made no meaningful attempts to begin negotiations. On 15th April 2009
during an interview on AAJ TV, alleged leader Brahamdagh Khan Bugti made an appeal to Balochi people to kill any non-native Balochi residing in Balochistan whether they were military or civilian. Targeted killings of Punjabi civilians broke
out in Balochistan. The BLA claimed credit for inciting the violence, but according to some sources the killings were carried out by Balochi residents “answering the call of conscience ”.
In 2013, the BLA claimed responsibility for the attack on the historic summer home of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s, a national heritage site. Following the natural death
of alleged leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri In 2014, Marri’s six sons fought over the leadership of the BLA, it is believed that three of the sons left the BLA to help create a splinter group called the United Baloch Army. Since
then, the BLA has continued their operations against the Pakistani government and had begun to carry out attacks against the United Baloch Army.
The BLA seeks larger regional autonomy of Balochistan from Pakistan. The cluster believes that the principle on which Pakistan
was built on, that everyone in Pakistan has been created equal, was not followed by Pakistani governments in letter and spirit. Instead, ethnic identity takes precedence over a religious one. Further, the BLA feels aggrieved over the fact that
the central government of Pakistan inequitably distributes profits from natural resources within the region and jobs to Punjabis.
of Current Events
Pakistan’s port town Gwadar was subjected to an attack less than a month after the previous one. On 18thApril 2019, the Baloch activists killed fourteen security personnel by offloading passengers from a bus. Pakistan has earlier blamed Afghan and Indian backing for the attacks in
Pakistan blaming the foreign hand
Possibility of the Baloch insurgency being
exploited by foreign enemies is highly unlikely. In fact, Pakistan has been alleged of supporting militant proxies within the region. However, these attacks raise an issue regarding the domestic conditions of the province, infested
Moreover, the problem is not at all restricted to the Baloch insurgency. The province is also a breeding tract for extremist
teams with linkages to terror organizations globally and regionally.
A Safe Haven for Terror Groups
It is an established fact that the Afghan Taliban have been headquartered in Balochistan for years. Many Sunni extremist groups are also allowed to operate, which the
Pakistani state uses to lure Baloch youngsters towards an Islamic identity exhorting them to associate with the Islamic republic.