ISLAMABAD: In a major diplomatic breakthrough, the United States (US) on Monday listed the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) to Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) organisations.
The listing was made at the official site of US Department of Treasury.
The development comes well ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the US which would pave the way for further galvanising the two countries that have witnessed bilateral relations souring since 2011.
Pakistan had designated the BLA as a terrorist organisation on April 7, 2006, after the group conducted a series of attacks targeting security personnel.
On July 17, 2006, the British government followed suit, listing the BLA as a “proscribed group” based on the Terrorism Act 2000, although the UK has harboured Hyrbyair Marri, leader of the BLA, as a refugee, something former army chief General (r) Raheel Sharif had protested against.
The group’s actions have been described as terrorism by the United States Department of State and European Union too.
However, the new listing of BLA to SDGT has put sanctions on the funding and movement of the terrorists affiliated with the BLA which of late has targeted several Chinese installations and Chinese nationals working on projects linked to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
BLA is a Baloch separatist organisation based in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. It became publicly known during the summer of 2000 after it claimed credit for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities. It has been claimed that Brahumdagh Bugti is one of the founders of the BLA.
Since 2004, the BLA has waged a limited war against the state. It is operating mainly in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, where it carries out attacks against the Pakistan Armed Forces.
Pakistan has accused the BLA of being an Indian proxy, and Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for providing arms, training and financial aid to the BLA in an attempt to destabilise Pakistan.
After the death of Aslam Baloch alias Achu in Kandahar, who claimed several attacks against Chinese nationals in Balochistan, the Afghan officials claimed that the Afghan police chief Abdul Raziq Achakzai had housed Aslam Baloch and other separatists in Kandahar for years.
Similarly, Afghan media outlet, Tolo News also claimed that Aslam Baloch has been residing in Afghanistan since 2005.