New Delhi: With Pakistan already engaged with India militarily on its eastern border, it is facing the possibility of opening another warfront, this time along its western border, particularly in the region that includes the restive Balochistan where the local population is fighting for freedom.
Pakistan-based sources told The Sunday Guardian that there were reports that Baloch Raji Ajoi-e-Sangar (BRAS), a united force of three Baloch armed groups—Baloch Liberation Army, Balochistan Liberation Front and Baloch Republican Guards—were well prepared to launch a massive military operation against the Pakistan army, which is stationed in the region. The possibility of facing war-like engagements on two borders, simultaneously, has the Pakistani military top brass in a tizzy.
According to these sources, BRAS was formed in November 2018. One of the reasons behind the unification of these groups, according to security experts, was the massive increase in the number of “forced disappearances” of local Baloch nationals, who were killed by the Pakistan army or later never found. Since 2000, Baloch leaders claim that more than 40,000 local Balochs have gone missing without a trace. And in almost all cases, they were picked up by Pakistani agencies and were never seen again.
Fearing an increase in the number of attacks on its military installations, the government of Balochistan, on 27 February, issued an order cancelling all kinds of leaves and even imposed a ban of granting leaves till further notice.
According to some Baloch activists this newspaper spoke to, Pakistan was moving a section of its army personnel stationed in Balochistan, towards the border with India. They said, “This movement is not visible in Gwadar. But troop movement from other regions is happening.” The activists also claimed that BRAS had “taken out” at least 10 Pakistani army personnel on Thursday, but it was not reported in the local media due to restrictions.
The Pakistani army had gathered information that these armed groups were planning to launch its military operations at the same time when India formally declared war, if that happened, the sources said.
“We are well prepared to start an all-out operation against the Pakistani army, which has been killing our unarmed citizens mercilessly for years. We have been taking out the occupying Pakistani forces in large numbers, regularly but this news does not reach the people as this is a very guarded region. The three districts of Panjgor, Turbat and Awaram are totally against Pakistan and we will not require much time to claim them in due course of time,” a BRAS activist said.
According to Khalil Baloch, Chairman of Baloch National Movement (BNM), one of the biggest Baloch nationalist political organisations, in some of the most restive parts of Balochistan, the Pakistani army had set up checkposts every 1.5 km. “It is hard to estimate the actual number, but it can be safely said that there are more than 70,000 troops posted in Balochistan.”
“However, as of now (Friday morning), only two main camps are functioning, as most of the army personnel who were deployed here, are being moved to the Indian border. Their primary aim is to protect the Punjab province. Balochistan is more or less gone from their control. We have been fighting for an independent Balochistan for more than 70 years now,” he added.
“BRAS killed more than 200 Special Security Officers deployed in Balochistan last year, hence the Pakistan army was called in. But they too are losing a number of their men,” Khalil told this correspondent from an undisclosed location.
“China is building a massive naval base here and we are opposing it tooth and nail because once it is constructed, Balochistan will become a vassal of China. India is a democratic and secular country and we are looking up to India to help us in securing freedom from this ‘unnatural’ state of Pakistan, which relies on proxies in both Kashmir and Balochistan to spread terror,” Khalil added further.