The Baloch Liberation Tigers (BLT) abducted six football players, who they claimed were informants of ISI. As a response, a large-scale military operation was launched in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan, involving extensive deployments of ground troops, air forces, and gunship helicopters.
The operation led to numerous houses being searched and seized, with reports of homes set ablaze and residents coerced into migrating. Several areas in Dera Bugti remain under military lockdown, with a growing list of individuals disappearing under mysterious circumstances.
The Pakistani establishment is making the same grave mistake in Balochistan, using weapons rather than talks. Coercion and oppression will only exacerbate the already precarious situation in Balochistan. Historically, suppressing the Baloch issue through force and tyranny has proven futile, and the current situation may exacerbate problems rather than provide solutions.
Mr. Sher Mohammad Bugti, the Central Spokesperson of the Balochistan Republican Party (BRP), stated that the Pakistani military has doubled its use of extreme force against the Baloch people, conducting countless operations, and disappearing thousands of Baloch civilians. He also noted that despite the lack of an official ‘State of Emergency’ in Balochistan, Pakistani Security forces are using force that is often excessive, indiscriminate, and in violation of Pakistan’s constitution and international pledges.
Balochistan, a province in Pakistan, is a goldmine with abundant mineral and natural resources such as oil, coal, gas, gold, silver, uranium, and copper. It provides direct access to the Indian Ocean and a thousand kilometers of coastline near the Strait of Hormuz. Despite its vast wealth, much of the population lives below the poverty line, lacking access to education, jobs, electricity, roads, and clean water. The unemployment rate is around 30%, and only 7% have access to running water.
Balochistan provides one-third of Pakistan’s natural gas supply, but only a few towns are connected to the supply grid. Social indicators like infant mortality rate and life expectancy are also low compared to the national average. The ethno-nationalist armed insurgency in Balochistan is fueled by a deep-rooted feeling of oppression among the Baloch people, which the Pakistani deep state has labeled as the work of foreign intelligence agencies. The forceful occupation and looting of vast natural resources have fuelled the call for Baloch nationalism.
Pakistan’s political and military leadership must recognize that military solutions cannot solve the Baloch issue. Instead, a political solution is needed to establish trust and confidence among Balochs to address insecurity, injustice, and anger. Real action on the ground is needed to feel like beneficiaries of progress and development in the province. The government should handle matters with care, empathy, and amicability, rather than resorting to violence.
Failure to do so could alienate the Baloch people from the Pakistani state, leading to more armed struggle. The global community must recognize that the Baloch struggle for independence differs significantly from other Middle Eastern conflicts, which are characterized by religious intolerance and sectarian divisions.