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Current Affairs

Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)

Date: 29 April 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A woman suicide bomber belonging to the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) blew herself in Karachi, killing three Chinese nationals.

 

Background

The incident took place outside Confucius Institute, a Chinese culture and education outreach centre.

 

Details

  • The BLA claims to be a nationalist militant group that is waging an insurgency for Baloch self-determination and a separate homeland for the Baloch people.

  • It started off by carrying out a rocket attack on a paramilitary camp in Balochistan Kohlu in 2005 during a visit by then President Pervez Musharraf.

 

Balochistan

  • It is one of Pakistan’s four provinces and also the most resource-rich due to gas, oil, copper and gold deposits.

  • It constitutes half of Pakistan’s area but has only 3.6% of its population. It shares its borders with Afghanistan and Iran.

  • Balochistan’s fishing port Gwadar was handed over to the Chinese to develop a deep-water port that would provide China access to the Arabian Sea.

  • Later, the BRI initiative and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were conceived and Gwadar became a vital cog for the development.

 

Baloch insurgency

  • The insurgency first started in 1948 after the demand for independence was denied and the state merged with Pakistan.

  • It remerged in 1977-78 after the successful independence of Bangladesh. Then President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto sent in the Pakistan Army to crush the guerilla movement.

  • The movement gained momentum once again in early 2000s after Pervez Musharraf bypassed tribal leaders to develop Balochistan as strategic territory.

 

Actions by Pakistani army

  • Baloch activists claim that Pakistani army has committed atrocities on innocent Baloch people. Hundreds of them have mysteriously disappeared.

  • To counter nationalist agenda, Pakistani army has deployed jihadist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Lashkar-e-Toiba in the province.

 

Role of India

Pakistan has long alleged that Baloch separatism is backed by India. It says that India had training camps for Baloch rebels in Afghanistan.

 

Attacks on Chinese

  • Chinese nationals involved in construction activities were first targeted in 2017, where 10 workers were killed.

  • They have in recent times targeted five-star hotels, stock –exchanges and offices in order to kill Chinese nationals.

 

Suicide bombers

It was for the first time that a Baloch woman was involved in suicide bombing. The targeting of Chinese showed that there is a growing anger among the Baloch population against the Chinese presence.