By: Dr. Syed Adnan Ali Shah Bukhari
Dated: October 29, 2014
The strained relations between various Baloch insurgent groups struggling for separating Balochistan from Pakistan took a deadly turn when fighting started between the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and United Baloch Army (UBA) in late October 2014. The BLA is led by Harbiyar Marri while the UBA is headed by his brother Zamran Marri aka Mehran Marri. Both Harbiyar and Zamran are the sons of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, who himself struggled for a separate independent state of Balochistan until his death in 2014. The struggle between the two brothers started in the lifetime of their father who died in 2014 and was succeeded by another son, Changez Marri, who believes in retaining Balochistan within the ambit of Pakistan. While Changez Marri lives in Pakistan, Harbiyar and Zamran live in London and Geneva respectively. Similarly, another son, Balaach Marri, died while fighting against Pakistan Army a few years ago.
The current differences between BLA and UBA rose over the division of weapons and finances that Nawab Khair Baksh Marri left behind after his death. According to available information, Nawab Khair Baksh had a huge cache of weapons hidden in the Kahan mountains in the Marri tribal territory and also owned US $60 million in cash. In 2011, Nawab Marri realized that BLA and Harbiyar are acting independently of him and are declining to take orders from him. The group is also trying to put their hand on the weapon cache and cash. Sensing this, Nawab Marri encouraged his son Zamran to raise another militant group, UBA, which is currently led in the field by former BLA commanders, Qadir Marri and Nari Murad, who defected to UBA. Harbiyar continues to trust his close aide, Aslam aka Chotu as his field commander. The weapon and cash came into the possession of Zamran which became a cause of friction between the two brothers and their respective groups. During the lifetime of Nawab Marri, both the brothers did not find an opportunity to fight over the resources, but it has now taken a deadly turn.
After the death of Nawab Marri, the well-wishers of the family tried the two brothers to reconcile with each other by meeting in Geneva, but it could not materialize. Harbiyar claims that the money and weapons were not the personal wealth of Nawab Marri but was paid by foreign government, including Afghanistan and was meant to run the insurgency.
On the other hand, other Baloch insurgent groups like Dr. Allah Nazar’s Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) and Balochistan National Movement (BNM) are making efforts to reconcile both the parties but they are not getting successful so far. The BLA is alleging that Allah Nazar is taking the side of Zamran against Herbiyar.
On 31 October 2014, the BLA attacked a training camp of UBA in Kahan and killed its commander, Ali Sher Jan, while took seven persons including Ghulam Mustafa, Mir Hassan, Manzoor Baksh and Mamnoon Baloch, hostage. According to information, the BLA commanders invited UBA commander Ali Sher Jan for negotiations. When he came over, he was taken into custody and killed while the rest aof his fellow were kept as hostage. On the other hand, BLA asserted that it has been a target of three IED attacks in the past few weeks, which they blamed on UBA. The BLF, BSO and BNM had protested over the initiation of hostilities between the two camps, but BLA is not paying any heed to their protest.
The Baloch armed resistance gained enormous public support in mid-2000s because of Pakistan’s excessive use of force against the Baloch in the province. But the insurgents failed to utilize this time to come on one single platform to put forward their demands. More and more armed groups emerged in Balochistan which made it almost impossible for them to properly coordinate with each other. The armed groups alienated the fellow moderate Baloch political parties by questioning their patriotism and commitment to the ‘national cause’. Human rights groups criticized the Baloch armed groups for killing numerous non-Baloch citizens under the allegations of spying for the Pakistani government while ordinary Baloch citizens also became victim of their attacks on similar unsubstantiated allegations.
After years of continued fighting, the Baloch insurgents appear frustrated with the lack of international support for their movement. A decade later, even not a single country openly supports the free Balochistan movement. The Baloch fighters seem jaded with how moderate political parties, such as the ruling National Party of Dr. Malik Baloch, the chief minister of Balochistan, capitalized on their hard work and gained political power. Islamabad’s counter-insurgency policy can hardly be credited for pushing the Baloch insurgents to this level. Frustration, suspicion, infighting and division are the common features of the end of a guerrilla fight.