Security agencies’ successes

Rift among the Baloch separatist Commanders

Authentic reports, including those of the security forces disclosed on June 18, this year that commander of the banned outfit Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) Ali Nawaz Rind was killed in internal fighting in the militant group in a neighboring country in mysterious circumstances out of Pakistan. Rind belonged to the Awaran district of Balochistan—a leading BLF member since 2014, and was involved in several attacks on the security forces.

A few days ago, a terrorist Commander of Jamaatul Ahrar, SarBakaf Mohmand, also met the same fate under similar circumstances.

Earlier, during a raid conducted by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Sukkur arrested a suspected terrorist identified as Ghaffar Domkey associated with a banned outfit-Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). The raiding team also recovered arms and ammunition from his possession.

In this regard, the security forces confirmed in their statements on June 18, 2023: ‘In a successful intelligence-based operation (IBO) on the night of June 16th and 17, they killed most wanted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist commander ZafarKhan alias Zafari and two of his group members in Darra Adam Khel, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa…in another incident, a top commander of Balochistan Liberation Front [BLA], Nawaz Ali Rind, was killed mysteriously in a gunfight in a neighbouringcountry. The other two terrorists were identified as Hasan Khan, son of Muhammad Imran, a resident of Bazi Khel, and Anasalias Ali, a resident of Nangarhar, Afghanistan.”

Reports suggest that the most wanted terrorist of BLF named Muhammad Asa also known as Mullah Ibrahim, was killed in a clash between two rival factions of the outfit over extorted money—and ransom funds.

The head bounty of the killed terrorist was Rs 40 lac by the security forces. He was involved in attacks on Iranian containers, IED attacks on security forces and the murder of workers in Kharan.

According to reports, “Zafar was a resident of Malan village in Darra Adam Khel and had reached Peshawar from Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on May 22, 2023. He was also a former member of TTP and was involved in dozens of terrorist attacks in Pakistan—against security forces, coal contractors, businessmen and influential people and so far had stolen more than Rs100 million in extortion and kidnapping for ransom.” These people and common persons of the area breathed a sigh of relief with the elimination of the wanted terrorists.

However, intelligence agencies and security forces hunt down terrorists by adopting unconventional operational procedures based on corroborated intelligence.

In fact, security forces and agencies have gained ground and momentum against the terror groups in Balochistan in recent months, and the pressure had led to killings of the commanders by the group’s own members. These security agencies had created a rift among the foreign-backed Baloch separatist commanders.

It is of particular attention that the arrest of the top Balochistan Separatist leader Gulzar Imam alias Shambay on April 7, this year-the founder of the banned outfit Baloch National Army (BNA) was a big setback to the terrorist groups and their handlers in the Balochistan province. Imam’s arrest was also a big success for Pakistani intelligence agencies—Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs)—sequel to an excellent intelligence operation by the country’s primary intelligence agency ISI which captured this key terrorist who was living under the wings of hostile foreign intelligence agencies.

Addressing the media along with Home Minister ZiaullahLangove on May 13, 2023, the key militant commander Shambay urged all insurgents operating in the Balochistan province to surrender and adopt a peaceful life, saying that rights could only be achieved through political and constitutional struggle, which offer solutions to issues related to Balochistan.

The repentant militant commander stated: “I seek apology from the family members of all those who were martyred during my tenure as an active (BNA) commander”.  He rejected all sorts of armed struggles as well as foreign support to the insurgents.

Balochistan terrorism landscape is diverse—a number of Balochanti-state anarchist groups, sponsored by Hostile Intelligence Agencies (HIAs) are involved in militants’ terrorist activities. TTP has inconsequential presence in Northern Balochistan whereas BLA and Balochistan Republican Army (BRA) have been carrying out terror attacks and extortion in Quetta-capital of the province, and surrounding areas, while Gulzar Imam had remained very active in Southern Balochistan and executed terrorist acts against the LEAs. After formation of BNA, Kechand Noshki were impacted. Scattered pockets and sleeper cells of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) have been also effective in Quetta and North East Balochistan, but with very limited potency. BNA was one of the major contributing organization in Baloch Raj Aajoi Sangar (BRAS) which was formed on November 10, 2018. Gulzar Imam alias Shambay-head of BNA was one of the major operation commander for terrorist activities in Balochistan. Gulzar remained deputy to Brahamdagh Bugti in BRA till 2018. Later, after creation of BRAS, he formed a new militant outfit BNA.

Nevertheless, he was an ideologue, who was staunch believer of independent Balochistan, and was in contact with the HIAs. He visited India on fake documents in December 2017.

Upon shifting of militancy leadership from feuds to commoners, Shambay emerged as an influential character in BRAS due to links with HIAs. He also remained operational head of BRAS prior to his arrest.

As regards the arrest of Gulzar, highly trained intelligence operators were employed at various geographic locations to verify the digital information. Upon his positive confirmation, he was approached under the guise of agents from HIAs. After necessary rapport building, he was gradually lured in through offers for financial and technical assistance.

The operation was spread over months. In this respect, playing the main role, ISI successfully broke into web of terrorist outfits. Arrest of Gulzar Imam alias Shambay indicated that the state, LEAs and intelligence agencies (especially ISI) are in full grip of the landscape for suppression of such militancy.

In this connection, his arrest and admission, including apology for terrorism related attacks have broken the backbone of BNA. Besides having effects on other terror outfits—sub-national groups, particularly BLA (Majeed Brigade) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) will also be affected. It will adversely impact morale of all militant groups.

It is mentionable that the ink on Pak-China agreements related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is part of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative or BRI was barely dry when especially American CIA, Indian secret agency RAW and Israeli Mossad had accelerated playing up the Baloch insurgency. Malicious propaganda against the CPEC coincided with the terror attacks in Pakistan’s various regions, especially in Balochistan.

Particularly, India was openly opposing the CPEC and China’s OBOR or BRI; the US also joined New Delhi.

Besides, energy projects, CPEC will open new doors of development relating to various fields, as the national economy of the country will grow fast, leading to creation of new job opportunities, poverty reduction, and development of transportation sector—boost agricultural and industrial growth, including exports.

Gwadar seaport project which is backbone of the CPEC will uplift the impoverished people of Balochistan, including developments in other backward areas of the province by redressing their grievances which the hostile elements, supported by the US, India and Israeli do not want.

While, under the former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s command, the fencing along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which also entails Pak-Afghan border of Balochistan started in June 2017 by the Pakistan Army to improve the security situation and has been almost completed.

Army also contributed a lot in socio-economic development of Balochistan besides giving military training to the youth, while protecting mega-projects and the CPEC staff.

And country’s armed forces and ISI have successfully broken the spine of the foreign-backed terrorists. Besides other vulnerable provinces, peace has been restored particularly in Balochistan.

But, in the recent past, terrorist attacks especially in Balochistan show that these external intelligence agencies are destabilizing Pakistan and want to damage the CPEC.

While, RAW is also using some terrorist outfits such as ISIS, BLA, BNA etc.-their linked groups like Majeed Brigade which claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist assaults on workers and labourers, working for the CPEC projects in Balochistan. These terror entities also abducted and killed many Chinese nationals.

Nonetheless, arrest of the top separatist leaders of Balochistan will result into positive impact on morale of LEAs and intelligence agencies.

Now, Baloch people must think that the so-called militant or sub-national leaders are living abroad, enjoying luxurious lifestyle, whereas ordinary Baloch are facing hardships in mountains and fighting a futile battle against the state.

Hence, BNA and other separatist groups must reconcile and surrender for ultimate integration into the society, which can lead to development of Balochistan and Pakistan. So, peace will afford better socio-economic (health, education, societal) opportunities for Balochistan.

Sajjad Shaukat
Sajjad Shaukat
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations and can be reached at [email protected]


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