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May 3, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9941

Pakistani Writer Akbar Jan Marwat Discusses The Role Of Non-Jihadi Terror Groups In Baluchistan, Says: 'The New Crop Of Baluchi Insurgents Are Politically Radicalized And Are Striving To Convert A Tribal Uprising Into A Full-Fledged Guerrilla War'

May 3, 2022
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 9941

On April 26, 2022, a female suicide bomber of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), one of the many non-jihadi terror organizations fighting for the independence of Baluchistan province from Pakistan, carried out an attack killing three Chinese academics inside the Karachi University campus. The BLA, which claimed the April 26 attack, identified the female suicide bomber as Shari Baloch aka Bramsh.

This might be one of the few suicide bombings by a Baluchi secessionist groups, which are secular and democratic in attitude, and certainly the first suicide bombing by a woman fidayee (i.e., martyrdom-seeking) bomber. In Baluchistan, two types of terror groups are active: secular Baluchi rebel groups and jihadi organizations like the Islamic State's (ISIS) Khurasan branch and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (the Movement of Pakistani Taliban, TTP).


The Pakistan Army is accused of human rights violations in Baluchistan

In a recent article published a few weeks before the April 26 attack, noted Pakistani columnist Akbar Jan Marwat examined the role of non-jihadi terror groups in Baluchistan. In the article, titled "Focusing On Latest Trends In Baloch Insurgency," Marwat also noted that the TTP and the Baluchi rebel groups might have joined hands in recent months.

Following are excerpts from Marwat's article:

"The Previous Feudal Leadership Of The [Baluchi] Insurgency Was Amenable To Compromise And Reconciliation Due To Personal And Family Interests"

"Militant or terrorist attacks in Baluchistan are not limited only to the Baluchi separatist groups; rather such attacks have also been carried out by both TTP and the Islamic State Khorasan.

"In this short piece, however, I propose to focus on the secular – separatist Baluchi groups, and on the latest changing trends observed in the leadership, operations, and strategy of these groups. The emergence of multiple factions and alliances [among the Baluchi secessionist groups] reflect a marked change in the structure and leadership of the insurgent groups.

"Traditionally Baluchi nationalists' and separatists' struggle was led by tribal elders or sardars. But now groups like BLF [Baloch Liberation Front]; BRAS [Balochistan Raaji Ajoi-R-Sangar] and BNA [Baloch National Army] are largely led by middle class educated Baluchi youths.

"These separatist groups contain a certain degree of dissatisfaction with traditional Baluchi separatist leaders who live abroad in comfortable self-exile. The new crop of Baluchi insurgents are politically radicalized and are striving to convert a tribal uprising into a full-fledged guerrilla war.

"The previous feudal leadership of the insurgency was amenable to compromise and reconciliation due to personal and family interests. The present leadership has no such compulsions as they come from the lower strata of society and are not part of the elite power grab. All these factors and trends have made the Baluch insurgency more formidable and complex."

"In February... The Majeed Brigade Of BLA Carried Out Two Major Gun-Battles And Suicide Bomb Attacks Against FC [Frontier Corps] Camps In Panjgur And Nushki Districts"

"Under the new leadership and changing pattern of strategy, these Baluchi militant groups have ratcheted up their attacks. Since January of this year [2022], various Baluchi groups have carried out at least 17 attacks, including two against security forces. These attacks killed more than 50 and injured over 100 people.

"The deadly guerrilla cell of the banned Balochistan Liberation Army called the Majeed Brigade has carried out eight attacks [by late March of] this year. These attacks have included certain major fidayeen-style [i.e., martyrdom-seeking] attacks in Nushki, Punjgur, and Sibi districts [of Baluchistan province].

"A number of Baluchi insurgents are active in Balochistan, including the BLA, the Baluch Republican Army (BRA); the Baloch Republican Guard [BRG], BLF, and the Baloch Raji Aajoi Saanger that is an umbrella grouping of Baloch insurgent outfits. While most of the attacks of these groups took place inside Baluchistan; the new[ly] formed insurgent group the BNA also conducted bomb blasts in Lahore [capital of Punjab province].

"In February of this year, the Majeed Brigade of BLA, carried out two major gun-battles and suicide bomb attacks against FC [Frontier Corps] camps in Panjgur and Nushki districts. Hundreds of soldiers are usually housed in these camps. Militants not only successfully infiltrated these camps; but kept the troops engaged for over three days. In the month of March, the BLA militant targeted an FC Convoy with an IED, in which four FC personnel lost their lives."

"The Uncertain Law And Order Situation Across The [Pakistan-Afghan] Border Has Created Uncertainty And Chaos In Baluchistan Also [Since August 2021 When Afghan Taliban Seized Power In Kabul]"

"Conventional wisdom would have told us that after the takeover of Kabul by the Afghan Taliban, the secular Baluchi separatist groups would certainly be reined in. The support of the Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies would also not be available to them. But on the country, however, we see an increase in the activities of the militant Baluchi groups.

"According to Afghan analysts, some of the factors responsible for the increase in the attacks by Baluchi insurgent groups could be the following. Firstly, the uncertain law and order situation across the [Pakistan-Afghan] border has created uncertainty and chaos in Baluchistan also.

"As Islamic militant groups like TJF and ISIS–K are active both in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan [provinces of Pakistan] the environment for Baluchi militant groups to conduct their attacks has also become conducive. It is well known that leaders of many Baluchi insurgent groups are still hiding in Afghanistan.


BLA's first woman suicide bomber Shari Baloch aka Bramsh (source: Twitter)

"The fate of these Baluchi leaders has not yet been decided by the [Afghan] Taliban leadership [who seized power in Kabul in August 2021]. This is basically due to weak operational capacity and soft corner of the Afghan Taliban towards militants, especially of the Islamic kind.

"Doubts have been expressed by our [Pakistani] intelligence agencies that the Baluchi separatist groups may have developed some kinds of operational linkages with TTP. Many Baluch separatist leaders have, however, relocated to Iran and Baluchistan [in Pakistan from Afghanistan]. The Afghan Taliban are also circumspect in dealing with Baluchi insurgents, as they have also to consider their own Baluchi population.

"The increase in the attacks by the Baluchi insurgents can be seen as an opportunity for them to grab the international spotlight. This in turn emboldens them to carry out more high impact attacks on the [Pakistani] security forces. By carrying out high-intensity attacks, the groups also hope to inspire and recruit more local youths..."

Source: Pakistan Observer (Pakistan), March 30, 2022. The original English of the article has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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