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Articles by Chinese think tanks: the History and present situation of the Baloch Liberation Army


Feb 24, 2021
United States
On April 26, 2022, a suicide terrorist attack against the Confucius Institute occurred at the University of Karachi in Pakistan. The attack killed four people, including the attacker Shari, and the other three were Chinese academics. And half an hour after the attack, the notorious Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, saying "if China doesn't stop its investment projects in Pakistan, there will be more attacks."

Like the original West Asian-style terrorist attack in the West Asian region, the attackers this time had a "perfect and incendiary personality template": a high-class background, a master's degree, and a wealthy family environment, such a "human bomb" role choice is obvious It's intentional. The BLA wanted to use the attacker's "noble sacrifice" as a banner to incite "other cowards" to follow suit.

If we read the historical materials carefully, it is not difficult to find that the "Baluchi Liberation Army" is not a new thing, and it is not the first time that it has launched an attack on the Chinese: the attack on the Chinese embassy in November 2018, the Gwadar Port Hotel in 2019 The attack, the August 2021 attack on a Chinese worker’s bus at Gwadar Port. Almost all the terrorist attacks against the Chinese in Pakistan in the past five years were the work of this organization, and almost every Chinese citizen killed in Pakistan can be attributed the bloody debt.

So, what makes this terrorist group target the Chinese so persistently to plan and carry out attacks? The following will sort out the history and current situation of the "Balochi Liberation Army".


Map of Balochistan

History of Balochistan

Balochistan and Balochistan are not the same concept. Balochistan, also known as Balochistan, is located in the Iranian Plateau of Southwest Asia and parts of South Asia, named after the Baloch people as the main ethnic group.

Due to its unique geographical location, since ancient times, whether the legions from Persia, Afghanistan and China went south to conquer India, or the kings of northern India went north on expeditions, they would pass through the Balochistan region, making the change of rulers in the region extremely important. frequently. Although some independent regimes were born in the local area, they did not last long, and this geographical term failed to become a single national regime. zone.

As British imperialism entered and began to colonize South Asia, the eastern part of Baluchistan was conquered by it; the western and northern parts sought protection from the Persian Empire and the Kingdom of Afghanistan respectively, and later became Iran and Afghanistan. The part of the Eastern Balochistan region annexed by the British became part of the British India, and later the partition of India and Pakistan, the Eastern Balochistan region became independent together with the North Indian region, and finally with 347,000 square kilometers area becomes one of the largest provinces in Pakistan.

Although the "Balochi Liberation Army" often advertises the past East Baloch as a resistance to the British colonialists and the Pakistani regime, in fact the Baloch resisters of these two periods have little to do with them now. Because of the lack of water, mountains and deserts in Balochistan, and the vast land and sparse population, the vast majority of Balochists have moved to other more prosperous countries and regions, including the original group of rebels. 's descendants.

At present, the proportion of Balochs in Balochistan has long been less than 43%, including many former Afghan and Iranian Balochs who migrated in the 1980s due to the Afghan war and the Iran-Iraq war.

The origin of the "Baluchi Liberation Army"

The opportunity for the emergence of the "Baluchi Liberation Army" is very special. In 1978, Mohammad Zia Haq took office as the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In order to solve the ethnic conflicts that have been very prominent since independence, he granted amnesty to activists of many ethnic groups, and to the minority including the Baloch. The nation implemented certain subsidies, which allowed many Balochs to receive education.

In 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, a large number of refugees from Afghanistan poured into Pakistan were resettled in the northern part of Balochistan. The native Balochs welcomed the Balochs from Afghanistan, but were extremely disgusted with Afghan refugees from other ethnic groups. People crowded out their living space and subsidies.

As more and more Soviet troops entered Afghanistan and began to show their determination to enter the Indian Ocean, Pakistan officially became the front line for the West and China to curb the expansion of Soviet influence, and northern Balochistan became the anti-Soviet force in Afghanistan. Overseas base camp. Weapons, trainers and munitions from China and the United States continue to arrive there to arm and train Afghans.

At first, it was just to grasp the camp locations, operational routes and movements of these Afghan armed men for the first time. The Soviet Union sent KGB personnel into Balochistan and set up intelligence stations there. But soon, the Soviets realized that the nationalist xenophobia among the Balochs was very high, and they were determined to take advantage of it.

In 1981, they established the Baloch Student Organization (BSO) around universities and secondary schools in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. The working methods of this organization are very strange: on the one hand, it uses local nationalism to spread independent thoughts to win over the Balochists; on the other hand, it relies on propaganda of Marxism-Leninism to try to turn it into a left-wing student army. And the ultimate development result of this suture idea is the "Baluchi Liberation Army".

Throughout the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the organization was active in Balochistan. They passed some information to the Soviet army, carried out certain sabotage activities on the anti-Soviet training center and military material training route, and took advantage of the contradictions among various local ethnic groups to enlarge the basic base of their supporters.

But the role of these actions is extremely limited. If a drama is used to describe the meaning of the Balochists in this war, it is not even a supporting role. Its role is to curb the spread of Islamic extremist ideology in some areas, but it has also caused a considerable number of local Afghan refugees and other Pakistani nationals to suffer casualties due to the abuse of force.

Therefore, the Pakistani government once believed that the armed forces of the Balochists were not left-wing armed forces with separatist purposes, but a youth armed group simply obsessed with carrying out attacks and revenge against other ethnic groups in Balochistan.


"Balochi Liberation Army" is the product of a hodgepodge of ideologies

Collapse, Reorganization and Repression

With the end of the war in Afghanistan and the intensification of its own economic difficulties, the Soviet Union gradually reduced its investment in the "Balochi Liberation Army". The return of a large number of Afghan refugees and armed forces has also reduced the conflict between the local aborigines and refugees to a certain extent. This has caused a lot of resistance to the development of the "Baluchi Liberation Army".

"Misfortunes do not come singly" is that with the landing of the red flag over the Kremlin in 1991, the belief in the "Baluchi Liberation Army" collapsed. A large number of core personnel chose to "run" and become "people of life", and the development of their military and political power also suffered heavy setbacks. In the end, its grass-roots organization basically collapsed, while the high-level chose to dormant, relying on a small number of universities that can still be controlled to develop the upper-level line, and try to rebuild the connection with the Russian military.

In the mid-1990s, India, which did not deal with Pakistan, replaced the Soviet Union and became the new backstage of the "Baluchi Liberation Army". Their capital injection helped this dying separatist armed force to recover a little.

But due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and communist beliefs, the propaganda and stance of the past could no longer be maintained. As a result, the "Balochist Liberation Army" began to recruit troops with extreme nationalism and religiousism, and tied up the interests of local gentry. They gradually destroy other ethnic gathering areas and industries in Balochistan, trying to drive out other ethnic groups and end the "exploitation of the Punjab" as the basis for their independence.

Unlike past operations against refugees, the sabotage has all occurred on Pakistani nationals. This forced the Pakistani military and police to dispatch military forces to strike. Throughout the 1990s, the Pakistani army carried out five or six sweeps across the entire Balochistan province, destroying many training centers and weapons storage points of the "Balochi Liberation Army", and attacking its power development and level of armed forces. By the end of the 1990s, the "Baluchi Liberation Army" only had certain underground organizations in a few cities and villages in the province, and most of them were suppressed.

However, a bad thing also happened during this period, that is, Pakistan has been a Saudi ally for a long time, and has a bad attitude towards its own Shiite people, which makes Iran feel dissatisfied and threatened. As a countermeasure, the Iranian army provided shelter and assistance for the "Balochi Liberation Army" on the border, and this behavior obviously reduced the siege effect of Pakistan, thus preserving the fire for the "Balochi Liberation Army" to resurface.

The resurgence after 9/11

In 2001, 9/11 broke out, the United States launched the war of invasion of Afghanistan. Due to the Pakistanis' sympathy and even support for the Afghan Taliban and Afghans, the US military doubts whether Pakistan is really a "reliable ally". The lack of central control caused by the grassroots autonomy of the Pakistani government also makes it difficult to monitor and prevent the flow of manpower and weapons between the country and Afghanistan. What's more, the Pakistani ISI itself is inextricably linked with the early Taliban team in Afghanistan.

At this time, in order to improve relations with the U.S. government, the Russian Ministry of Defense provided the U.S. counterpart with a channel of contact with the "Balochi Liberation Army", which the U.S. naturally accepted. The CIA quickly took over the intelligence station previously set up by the KGB and rearmed the "Balochi Liberation Army". The "Balochi Liberation Army" has thus become a new policy tool of the United States.

However, the treatment of the "Balochist Liberation Army" by the Americans is much more "meticulous" than that of the Soviets. They transformed the minds of these armed men, added neoliberalism and populism to their struggle program, and gradually induced them to abandon the original development line of the upper-class elites of the academy, and instead use the expansion of military power as the main way of development to reduce the unemployment of the nation. and the semi-unemployed as the new main source of force, making it a more purely "armed opposition faction" than in the past.

On this basis, the "Baluchi Liberation Army" also reached a united front with the ethnic separatists from other countries entrenched in eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, and this action also virtually established their later anti-China trend.

Of course, the "Baluchi Liberation Army"'s change of sides is not without cost, because it has completely lost the help and protection of Iran because of its tail-waking begging to the United States and its collusion with Iranian subversives; and the organization's original left-wing struggle The advanced nature has also been completely lost, and it has completely become an extreme separatist armed force supported by foreign forces. Er) Baloch tribesmen dominated by three large tribes.

During the vast majority of the Afghan war, the "Baluchi Liberation Army" was engaged in collecting intelligence and "assassinating Afghan intelligence personnel who entered Pakistan" under the umbrella of the US intelligence system, playing a slightly greater role than during the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. A little, but not much difference either.

However, under the asylum of the United States, the supply of weapons and the financial assistance of India, its strength has been further developed, and the scope of its activities has been further expanded. The intelligence work on the Taliban has not progressed, but the attacks and looting activities against civilians and businesses have increased exponentially, thus turning it into a terrorist organization.

In 2006, the unbearable Pakistani government once again launched a round of scavenging operations, killing and capturing hundreds of armed personnel, and announced the ban on this organization. But under the aegis of the U.S. intelligence agencies, such crackdowns are basically nothing more than a trickle. The "Baluchi Liberation Army" can still launch attacks on Pakistan's border checkpoints and military bases from time to time, causing certain losses to Pakistan.

New Gangs on the New Silk Road

After 2014, the United States has become increasingly incapable of doing what it can do on the Afghan issue, so its positioning of the meaning of the existence of the "Balochi Liberation Army" has also changed.

At this time, China has just come up with the concept of "One Belt One Road", and Pakistan will be the top priority in this initiative to rebuild Asia's overland trade routes. Workers and enterprises from China will build large-capacity terminals, factory clusters, freight railway hubs and large logistics facilities in China-friendly Pakistan, and on this basis will advance westward, bringing trade and prosperity to Central Asia and the Middle East. West Asia. But a prosperous market and a stable Central Asian environment beneficial to China is something that neither the United States nor India wants to see.

On this road to prosperity, there is a path that cannot be bypassed - that is Balochistan. Industrialization requires electricity, and electricity requires energy security. Balochistan has the largest natural gas field in Pakistan. Chinese and Pakistani engineers must build gas wells, factories and even power plants locally to meet the needs of economic and social development. If you want to balance land and sea trade, you must rely on ports. As Pakistan’s largest port, Karachi Port in Sindh Province is only a dozen kilometers away from Balochistan. The rivers there are also full of Chinese engineers who conduct exploration and build hydropower facilities. .

Foreigners without armed protection have historically been the best targets of terrorists, and their kidnapping often fetches huge local influence and a sizable ransom. The Americans and Indians know very well that attacking these unarmed Chinese will effectively reduce the Chinese people's willingness to invest, destroy the friendship between China and Pakistan, and on this basis will hinder or even destroy China's entire "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

The initial action of the "Baluchi Liberation Army" may have been to simply perform "the task of the master" and seek money and kill. But soon, this group of extremists discovered the problem. The Chinese would use a powerful "weapon" to destroy the foundation on which they depended, and the name of this "weapon" is prosperity.

The infrastructure and factories built by the Chinese in Sindh have provided a large number of jobs, and young Balochistan people have begun to waver. Many people go to neighboring provinces to find opportunities to get rid of poverty, so as to bid farewell to poverty and even settle down. Cut off their interests with the Balochistan independence movement.

The proportion of Balochists in Balochistan declined rapidly from 60% in the early 2000s to nearly 40% in the second decade, and the proportion of the resident population was even lower. In a barren province, it is unimaginable to create a so-called single-ethnic independent country with such a low population ratio. Every investment by China in Pakistan and the signing of every cooperation project between China and Pakistan are directly or indirectly destroying the living soil of the "Balochi Liberation Army". People and Chinese companies are the main targets.

Relevant attacks started in 2015, but due to the long-term development of the "Baluchi Liberation Army" armed forces, the quality of personnel is very low, and the methods are rough. Most of the attacks were either strangled in the cradle or failed. goal achieved.

Ironically, the "Baluchi Liberation Army" at this time began to take the Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish independent armed forces, which are also servants of the United States, as an example, but the problems of the leadership and armed forces of the two are also very close, and what they are pursuing It is equally illusory.

In 2018, the Balochistan Liberation Army was about to lose its asylum as U.S. troops accelerated their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Realizing that the momentum was wrong, they also became very active this year, and successively planned the attacks on Karachi Port and the Chinese Consulate General in Karachi, but neither of these two attacks caused Chinese casualties.

In response, Pakistan organized a three-military joint campaign against the extremists in Balochistan the following year, destroying almost all of their large training facilities and arresting a large number of key personnel. The senior leader of the attack on the Chinese consulate, Rashid Baloch, and the Balochistan Liberation Army also attacked the Pearl Intercontinental Hotel in May of that year.

In 2020 and 2021, with the gradual destruction of the training center, the grassroots combat troops established by the "Balochi Liberation Army" with the help of the United States basically fled, and the only external funding channel is the Indian intelligence system.

Once again they had to indent into the ivory towers of the city and school where the attackers who launched the attack at Karachi University this time were developed and recruited from their secondary school days. And this "Little Cake Club" that exists in the school has long only bullied outsiders through the private armed forces of local personnel, or hired a small number of outlaws with a lot of money to carry out targeted sabotage activities, and the movements of these activities are naturally also Not big.

Of course, it is precisely because of this that the Pakistani government is also unwilling to clean up bad elements in the school under the charge of "suppressing academics", and it is even more difficult to eradicate them. It is generally believed that the total manpower of the organization is less than 5,000, of which less than 1,000 can participate in and execute attacks.

In the fall of 2021, the puppet government supported by the United States in Afghanistan collapsed, and a large number of American weapons and ammunition also flowed into Pakistan along with the collapsed government forces and warlords. . But in the long run, the decline of its strength is already an irreversible process.

In early April 2022, the political situation in Pakistan was turbulent, and Shabazz Sharif, a leader from the "Punjab Gang", came to power. In the eyes of the Balochistan Liberation Army and its backers, this political incident is almost the last chance for the organization to turn around. Therefore, they chose to pull out a person like Shari who has a high degree of education and could have spread extremist ideas more effectively in the school. "Ding Dang jade, gold nuggets" play as a person with the nature of a symbol of faith, to innocent people. of Chinese exchange scholars launched suicide attacks.

However, such terrorist acts may not have the effect they expected. The operation gave the Pakistani government a pretext to intervene in local activists and on-campus affairs. An independent armed force with extreme nationalism as its core ideology cannot create prosperity, nor can it be sustained for a long time without the input of large amounts of external capital. More and more terrorist attacks will only make them lose external sympathy and sympathy. support.

What the Pakistani side needs to do is to improve the local security level and security level, and implement strict protection of academic institutions and infrastructure. As long as the means are in place, it is only a matter of time before the attacks are contained and the cost of launching them is gradually increased to a level that is unaffordable for adversaries.

With the continuous development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the "Belt and Road", the local peoples will sooner or later share the fruits of development. The international community continues to push for a turnaround in Iran-Pakistan relations, supports Afghanistan's gradual recovery from the chaos following the withdrawal of US troops and regime change, a peaceful, stable and prosperous environment that will allow supporters of the Balochistan Liberation Army to gradually disengage, and Eventually, the extremist organization completely withdraws from the stage of history and disappears into the long river of time.
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Jul 3, 2012
Further development put in by Pakistan and China for getting more jobs and education to local people will effectively exterminate extremists and terrorists in the region and help build up a better integration for Pakistan.

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