It is Punjabi collaborators and not Punjabi settlers that are targeted. Those who are working as informants for the Military Intelligence or the ISI in the guise of workers are being killed. In a war of liberation, collaborators cannot be spared. However, no Punjabi settler has been hit,’ says Dr Allah Nazar Baloch. A central figure of ongoing Baloch resistance and Baloch nationalism, Dr Allah Nazar Baloch emerged as prominent student leader from the platform of Baloch Students Organisation (BSO). He was picked y intelligence agencies, tortured during the illegal custody and remained ‘missing’ for a couple of years. His courageous struggle earned him an iconic status in Balochistan. He is presently commanding Baloch National Front.
In Pakistan Sindhis, Seraikis and Pashtuns have also been denied their rights. But only the Baloch have opted for armed struggle. Why?
No doubt Sindhis are oppressed, as are Pashtuns and others. There is national oppression in Pakistan. In the case of Balochistan, we are fighting for geographical, historical and cultural revival because we were occupied by Pakistan. Baloch did not join Pakistan voluntarily.
Baloch nationalists are now in power in Balochistan. They have been authorized to hold negotiations with Baloch militants. Will you hold negotiations with Dr. Malik’s government?I do not agree that nationalists are in power. They are federalists (Wafaq parast), not nationalists, and were not elected by the Baluch people. The Baloch nation boycotted the general elections last year. The Chief Minister of Baluchistan, Dr. Muhammad Malik, barely received two percent of the votes from his constituency. He is speaking the language of Wafaq and Punjab. However, Baloch will not refuse a negotiated settlement as long as an international third party, such as the UNO, mediates the negotiation process.
Will you accept negotiations mediated by the UNO?
Yes. If the UNO accepts historically existing Balochistan and its identity, we will accept UN mediation. We want the UNO to declare Balochistan a conflict zone. Balochistan was occupied against the will of the Baloch people. Unless Balochistan attains its lost freedom, peace can neither be granted in the region nor internationally.
In case the UN mediates, will you demand an independent Balochistan or will you ask for autonomy within the Pakistani state?
The UNO was formed to solve national questions. As long as the UNO respects Balochistan’s historically existing borders, Baloch people will consider every such option that guarantees Baloch independence.
Do you believe in democracy?
Yes, of course. However, if democracy implies oppression, as is the case with Pakistani democracy, then it is problematic. The Pakistani parliament is a tool to justify Baloch oppression. Because Pakistani lawmakers legislate to justify and legitimize Baloch oppression, we do not recognize the Pakistani parliament. That said, as a Baloch nation, we are democratic people. We strongly believe in democracy.
But democracy and armed struggle cannot co-exist?
Our armed struggle is guided by democratic thought. We believe in a unified command. We believe in democratic institutions. Our guns do not defend or support any fascist ideology. We have taken up guns to defend basic human rights.
How many Baloch groups are engaged in armed struggle?
You have the Baloch Liberation Front, Baloch Liberation Army, Baloch Republican Army and the United Baloch Army. They are all fighting for Balochistan’s independence.
What differences do they have among themselves?
There are no differences.
Why then are there so many different organizations? Are there differences over tactics perhaps?
There are no differences over basics. All are fighting the same enemy and there are links. While there may be some differences over tactics (tareeka-e-kar), all are fighting for Baloch liberation.
Isn’t it a big difference that you are holed up in Balochistan’s mountains while Hyrbiar is in London and Brahamdagh Bugti in Switzerland?
Correct. They might have their own compulsions. However we share the same aim: independence for Balochistan.
Of all the armed groups, which in your view is the strongest?
We do not have a concept of any group being stronger than another. We are all fighting for independence.
How many militants, all groups combined, are there?
Over six thousand but more and more are joining. Our cause is getting support. Baloch fighters are loved by the Baloch nation. Consequently numbers are improving.
How do you compare a force consisting of six thousand militants with a 600,000-strong army?
They are not 6000 militants. They represent over twenty million people of the Baloch nation. You cannot compare a 600,000-strong army with an entire nation. Also the Pakistan army is an army that can be rented by anyone. It has no national history, no national identity or ideology. How can you compare such an army with a nation that seeks pride in its culture and a history spanning thousands of years? The Pakistani army is no match for the Baloch nation.
Do you have any contacts with political parties too?
Yes, we do have contacts with pro-independence political parties.
With which party do you have an ideological proximity?
BNM (Baloch National Movement), for instance. It is fighting for Baluchistan’s independence. All of its cadres as well as all the cadres of Balochistan National Front are trained under Baloch Students Organisation (BSO). We have contacts with all those parties who are politically struggling for the independence of Balochistan.
What about Balochistan National Party (BNP)-Mengal group? Or the National Party?
Both the BNP-Mengal and National Party are part of the war unleashed on Balochistan. Both BNP-Mengal and the National Party accept the constitutional framework laid out by the Pakistani state. The disappearances of Baloch activists, extra-judicial killings and violations of human rights have been conducted by virtue of this constitutional framework. As part of this oppression, how can they be representative of Balochistan?
But they are also target of attacks?
Look, the National Party has not been attacked at all. No doubt BNP activists have been targeted. Still, the BNP leadership is not striving for the Baloch cause. Instead, it is worried about its own survival. The BNP leadership seeks acceptance from the Pakistani establishment in order to survive. They are not concerned about the survival of the Baloch nation.
Well, if BNP-Mengal and the National Party are not Balochistan’s representatives, why are they under attack?
As pointed out, the National Party is not under attack. However, the BNP cadre has been martyred. Unfortunately, despite all that the BNP-Mengal’s leadership is compromising for individual gains.
Do you get help from any foreign country?
No. If this were the case, the liberation struggle in Baluchistan would have been at another stage. We want the USA, the UK, the EU and democratic countries in Asia as well to lend us help. We will be obliged if anybody lends us financial help.
It is pointed out that India, via Afghanistan, is helping you people. Also, there are training camps in Afghanistan to train Baloch militants.
India is not lending us any help. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, let’s understand that Balochistan and Afghanistan have cultural, geographical and tribal links. Half of my own family lives in Nimroz. One travels across the Durand Line (dividing Pakistan and Afghanistan) for such reasons as to attend wedding parties and so on. It does not mean there are training camps. The Durand Line, drawn by colonialism, cannot revoke our relations on both sides.
There is a difference between camps and relations. Don’t you agree that there are training camps for Baloch militants?
Not at all.
A U.S. and Israeli hand in Balochistan is also pointed out. The USA is secretly supportive? How true is this assertion?
The USA lent help to Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and the newly formed government in Iraq. We would have welcomed the U.S. help. But we are not getting any. The fact of the matter is: our colonizer wants to distract the attention of the international community and the media, hence the talk of foreign hand.
Without any foreign help, where do you get the arms and how do you sustain your struggle financially?
The Baloch nation is a large nation. There is a Baloch diaspora. They finance us. As far as the arms supply is concerned, let me remind every one that a Kalashnikov could be bought for four thousand rupees during the ‘Afghan Jihad’. We bought and stored arms during the 1980s. Do we have any sophisticated weapons, any stingers or anti-aircraft guns, any guided missiles? If that were the case we would have won the liberation struggle by now. We are sustaining our war with the support of the Baloch nation.
Do you think the international community will lend you a helping hand?
For sure. The conscience of the world is not yet dead. From the U.S. Congress and Pentagon to the EU and the Arab countries, there are people with conscience who will lend help.
Why are the poor Punjabi settlers being killed in Baluchistan? What are they guilty of?
Let me clarify one thing: it is Punjabi collaborators and not Punjabi settlers that are targeted. Those who are working as informants for the Military Intelligence or the ISI in the guise of workers are being killed. In a war of liberation, collaborators cannot be spared. However, no Punjabi settler has been hit.
How will you explain the growing sectarian violence in Balochistan?
The Taliban are responsible for that. They are the Pakistan military’s strategic assets. Baloch nationalists are not involved in sectarianism. In fact, sectarian elements get their training in Punjab. Sectarianism is used by the military to distract from the Baloch national struggle.
What about the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan?
They are also strategic assets. Colonel Imam used to claim that he trained them. Osama ben Laden was found in Abbotabad. Mullah Omar lives next to Core Commander’s house in Quetta. Punjab is the real problem here. It is like this. Those who invaded India would pass through the Punjab on their way. This has been the case from Mehmud Ghaznavi to Ahmed Shah Abdali. Now Punjab is seeking revenge. Look how the Pashtun cultural heritage is being devastated. Rehman Baba’s shrine was bombed as was Ajmal Khattak’s shrine. They want Afghanistan as Pakistan’s undeclared fifth province. This is their biggest wish.
How is peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan co-related?
Pakistan is playing a double game. It has become a den of terrorism. They train and send Taliban to Afghanistan. The NATO countries must put a stop to this. To achieve a lasting peace, Balochistan must be supported as a buffer state.
How can an Afghan peace be achieved?
As long as Pakistan survives in its present geographical form, peace cannot be achieved. Also, as long as the USA and the West fear Pakistani nukes, the Afghan question cannot be solved. Unless the Baloch and the Pashton nations’ historical position are revived, a lasting peace will not be achieved.
Back to Balochistan. Why oppose the mega projects in Balochistan when they can benefit the poor?
Take the Gawadar Project, for instance. Not only is the aim to provide breathing space for the Pakistani economy but also to convert Baloch into a minority by bringing in labour from outside of Baluchistan. That is why we oppose it. We also urge those countries or investors who want to invest in Balochistan, not to deal with Pakistan.
But there are Baloch who support such projects.
Yes, they have vested interests.
Will you oppose the Pak-Iran gas pipeline as well?
Whether the Gawadar Port or a pipeline, any project at the cost of the Baloch people will be resisted.
There are Pushton districts in Baluchistan? What is your opinion about them?
Baloch has no conflict with Pushton. They are living on their historical lands. It is upto them to decide if they want to stay with Pakistan, accede to Afghanistan or opt for an independent Pushtonistan. Baloch will respect their decision.
Finally, what is the final solution in the case of Baluchistan?
An independent Baluchistan.
This is an unpublished transcript of Allah Nazar Baloch’s interview with Boriwal Kakar of RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal. This interview was conducted in October 2013. Radio Mashaal is broadcasting for the Pashtun areas along the Durand Line. Boriwal Kakar tweets at @Boriwalkakar.