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Balochistan conflict
Frontier between Balochistan and Afghanistan before the Durand agreement of 1893.
Date 1948, 1958, 1963 - 1969, 1973 - 1978, 2004 – present. In Iran since 2003.
Location Balochistan
Status Ongoing
Pakistan Pakistan
supported by:
Iran Iran
Afghanistan Afghanistan
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Balochistan Liberation Army
Baloch Liberation Front
Baluch People's Liberation Front
Popular Front for Armed Resistance
supported by:
Pakistan  Asif Ali Zardari
Flag of the Pakistan Army  Tikka Khan
Flag of the Pakistan Army  Iqbal Khan
Pakistan  Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Flag of the Pakistan Army  Rahimuddin Khan

Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran Mohammad Ali Jafari

Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Nowroz Khan
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Khair Bakhsh Marri
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Akbar Bugti

Abdolmalek Rigi

Pakistan Army:50,000[1]
Pakistan Frontier Corps:30,000 [2]

Iran Military of Iran

Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg BLA:10,000[2]

Jundallah:~1000 fighters

Casualties and losses
about 500 pak, 250 iranian,50 afghan about 5,000+ fighters killed
~1,000 civilians killed
~4,500 Arrested
~140,000 Displaced[3] (2004-2005 Casualties)

The Balochistan conflict is a conflict between some Baloch insurgents and the governments of Pakistan and Iran.[3]

The Baloch region was fragmented and divided into a number of fiefdoms before 1947. Western Baluchistan was conquered by Iran in the 19th century, and its boundary was fixed in 1872. India and Pakistan gained independence from the British on 15 & 14 August 1947 respectively. The princely state of Kalat neighbored the new Pakistan. One of the pre-conditions of independence, of these two newly formed countries, was that the princely states adjoining or within their territories will have the right to accession of to remain sovereign. The Kalat State was announced a sovereign & free State on 11 August 1947, Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan declared Kalat's independence.


Area of dispute

Distribution of Balochs is marked in pink.

Historical Balochistan comprises the Balochistan region. In the west, is the southern part of Sistan o Baluchestan province, Iran. In the east is Pakistani Balochistan. In the north is the Helmand province of Afghanistan. The Gulf of Oman forms its southern border. Although it is the largest (44% of the country's area) of the Pakistan, it is the least populated (only 5% of the population) and the least developed area.[4]

Main characters

There are four distinct parties involved and affected by this conflict:

  • Central government of Pakistan (since 1946)
  • Government of Iran (since 2003)
  • People of the region
  • Sardars (Tribal chiefs)

First conflict 1948 (led by Prince Abdul karim khan)

In April 1948 the central government sent the Pakistan army who allegedly forced Mir Ahmed Yar Khan to give up his state. Mir Ahmed Yar Khan signed an accession agreement ending Kalat's de facto independence. His brother, Prince Abdul Karim Khan, decided to carry on with the struggle. Basing himself in Afghanistan he conducted guerrilla warfare against the Pakistan army[5]. On the night of May 16, 1948 Prince Abdul Karim Khan, decided to lead a separatist movement against the Pakistan government.

The Prince invited the leading members of nationalist political parties—the Kalat State National Party, the Baloch League, and the Baloch National Workers Party — to join him in the struggle for the creation of an independent "Greater Balochistan." The Prince was a member of the royal family and the former governor of the Makran province.

Second conflict (1958-59 led by Nawab Nowroz Khan)

Nawab Nowroz Khan took up arms in resistance to the One Unit policy which was perceived by some in Balochistan to be designed and initiated by the federal government to turn Baloch in minioroty in their own land. He and his followers started a guerilla war against Pakistan. Noroz khan & followers were charged with treason and arrested and confined in Hyderabad jail. Five of his family members (sons and nephews) were subsequently hanged. Nawab Nowroz Khan later died in captivity.[6]

Third conflict 1963-69 (led by Sher Mohammad Bijarani Marri)

After the second conflict the Federal government sent the Army to build new military bases in the key trouble areas of Balochistan to resist further chaos. Sher Mohammad Bijarani Marri led like-minded militants to start a guerrilla warfare against the establishment of these posts by creating its own posts of insurgency spreading over 45,000 miles (72,000 km) of land from the Mengal tribal area in the south to the Marri and Bugti tribal areas in the north against the Pakistan's act of altering the population of Baloch & their miniority. The insurgents bombed railway tracks and ambushed convoys. The Army retaliated by destroying vast areas of the Marri tribe's land. This insurgency ended in 1969 when Yahya Khan abolished the "One Unit" policy and the Balochs agreed to a ceasefire [7]. This eventually led to the recognition of Balochistan as the fourth province of West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan) in 1970.

Fourth conflict 1973-77 (led by Nawab Khair Baksh Marri)

In 1972, major political parties from a wide spectrum of political ideology united against the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (the then President of Pakistan) and formed the National Awami Party NAP and demanded more representation for the ethnic Baloch in the government. This allegedly did not sit well with Bhutto's approach as he was representative of establishment who never wanted the Baloch to be in a position or live better lives, seen by some as elitist and authoritarian[citation needed]. In February 1973, in the presence of news media in Islamabad, the police opened a consignment of Iraqi diplomatic pouches containing arms, ammunition and guerrilla warfare literature(which was never proved even Iraqi claimed that it was not for Balochistan it was for Iranian Baloch to fight against Iran). The Pakistani intelligence agencies claimed these arms were en route to the Baloch (Marri) insurgents of Balochistan. Citing treason, Bhutto was looking for such reasons for a time, subsequently he dismissed the provincial government of Balochistan and imposed governor rule. [8]Dismissal of the provincial government led to armed insurgency. Khair Bakhsh Marri formed the Balochistan People’s Liberation Front (BPLF) which led large numbers of Marri and Mengal tribesmen into guerrilla warfare against the central government.[9] According to some authors, the Pakistani military lost 300 to 400 soldiers during the conflict with the Balochi separatists& baloch lost about 90,000 lives & 12,000 are still missing,[10] while the Balouch lost 7,300 separatists, during this period are estimated at 8,000.[10] Bhutto was deposed by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1977, and the conflict formally ended when new martial law administrator General Rahimuddin Khan declared a general amnesty for belligerents willing to give up arms.[11] Shortly thereafter, Rahimuddin oversaw a complete military withdrawal.

Fifth conflict 2004 - to date (lead by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri)

In 2005, the Baluch political leaders Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri presented a 15-point agenda to the Pakistan government. Their stated demands included greater control of the province's resources, protection for the Baluch minority and a halt to the building of military bases. [12]

Some political party members, students, doctors and tribal leaders are alleged to have been detained by government security forces, many disappearing for years, majority is still missing mainly due to their links to foreign agencies and terrorist activities.

On 15 December 2005, Inspector-General of Frontier Corps Maj Gen Shujaat Zamir Dar and his deputy Brig Salim Nawaz (the current IGFC) were wounded after shots were fired at their helicopter in Balochistan province. The provincial interior secretary later said that "both of them were wounded in the leg but both are in stable condition." The two men had been visiting Kohlu, about 220 km (135 miles) south-east of Quetta, when their aircraft came under fire. The helicopter landed safely. [13]

In August 2006, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79 years old, was killed in fighting with the Pakistan Army in which at least sixty Pakistani soldiers and 7 officers were killed. He was charged by Pakistan's government of a series of bomb blasts, killings of his own people and the rocket attack on the President Pervez Musharraf. It is said that the Pakistani army wanted to nab him alive, but he blew himself up with explosives to avoid capture which caused the heavy army casualties mentioned above [14]

In April 2009, Baloch National Movement president Ghulam Mohammed Baloch and two other nationalist leaders (Lala Munir and Sher Muhammad), were seized from a small legal office and were allegedly "handcuffed, blindfolded and hustled into a waiting pickup truck which is in still use of intelligence forces in front of their lawyer and neighboring shopkeepers." Five days later on April 8 their bodies, "riddled with bullets"[15] were found in the countryside, sparking "rioting and weeks of strikes, demonstrations and civil resistance" in cities and towns around Balochistan[16]. (See Turbat killings).

On August 12, 2009, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood has formally made announcement of Council for Independent Balochistan. The Council includes "Baloch of Iran" and "all separatist leaders including Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti." He claims that "the UK had a moral responsibility to raise the issue of Balochistan’s illegal occupation at international level."[17]

Iran (2003 - to date)

Abdol Sattar Doshoki, a Baluchi political activist-turned-analyst in London, says that Jundallah leader Rigi was a "young Sunni religious devotee" who had a falling out with the Iranian government a few years ago and found support among young Baluchi religious zealots in his native region.But his violent movement has also garnered some sympathy from ordinary Baluchis who see their identity as under attack from Iran, and see Jundallah as a defender. "Baluch people are being discriminated against on two specific grounds. No. 1 is their religion. An overwhelming number of Baluchis are Sunni, and the regime is Shi'ite," Doshoki says. More than 8 million members of the beleaguered nation call the Iranian Plateau their home. Their population spans the borders of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, with their southern reaches hemmed in by the Arabian Sea. Some 60 percent are concentrated in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan Province, where they seek autonomy and have been in the grips of a violent insurgency -- their fifth in modern history -- since 2004. Their insurrection and most political movements are staunchly secular. But for the 1.5 million Baluchis living in Iran, Doshoki says, the mosque is their only real place of association, leading the causes of Sunni extremism to become mixed with Baluchi ethno-nationalism and separatism in southeastern Iran. Since its emergence in 2003, Jundallah has taken credit for some 10 attacks, including three suicide bombing since last December and the mass kidnappings of Iranian soldiers and civilians.Iran has responded by cracking down hard on Jundallah and its perceived supporters. Most of those arrested are summarily executed, according to human rights watchdogs.Last year, Pakistan extradited Abdolhamid Rigi, a younger brother of Jundallah's leader, to Iran, where he now awaits execution.Doshoki says that it is difficult to establish who, exactly, supports Jundallah because Tehran has never provided evidence to back its accusations that the group receives support from Washington, London, or Islamabad.Doshoki sees Jundallah as a pawn in a complicated chess game between states in the region. And he points to the strong possibility that Pakistan supports Jundallah in retaliation for alleged Indian financing of Baluchi rebels fighting the Pakistani Army through Iran.[18]


Steps are being taken for industrialization of the province and industrial zones are planned along the new Gawadar-Karachi highway. This development is envisaged to bring accelerated progress in the future for the Baloch. However, people in Balochistan remain deeply resentful of Pakistan's policies in the region. Some have openly called for India's assistance in securing Balochistan's liberation from Pakistan[19].

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Baloch struggle official website:
  4. ^ Technical Assistance Islamic Republic of Pakistan: Balochistan Economic Report
  5. ^ Owen Bennett Jones, Pakistan: Eye of the storm (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002) p.133
  6. ^ Selig S Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, pp.27-28
  7. ^ "Pakistan: The Worsening Conflict in Balochistan," International Crisis Group, Asia Report No. 119, p.4
  8. ^ The State of Martial Rule, Ayesha Jalal, Sang-e-Meel 1999 ISBN 969-35-0977-3 page 40.
  9. ^ Hassan Abbas, Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism (New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2005) p.79
  10. ^ a b Eckhardt, SIPRI 1988: 3,000 military + 6,000 civilians = 9,000, Clodfelter: 3,300 govt. losses
  11. ^ Marri, Balach Marri (2002). "A History of Oppression". Retrieved 2002-08-14. 
  12. ^ In Remote Pakistan Province, a Civil War Festers, NYT, April 2, 2006
  13. ^ "Pakistan general hurt in attack" BBC News, 15 December, 2005
  14. ^ Tribal Leader's Killing Incites Riots, New York Times, August 28, 2006
  15. ^ Another Insurgency Gains in Pakistan By CARLOTTA GALL. July 11, 2009
  16. ^ Riots as Baloch chiefs found dead BBC, April 9, 2009
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^

External links


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