Baloch Insurgency in Pakistan: Fight for Statehood

By: Ayush Vora, SVKM’s Pravin Gandhi College of Law

Balochistan is a province of Pakistan situated in the Southern part of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.  Baloch people of Pakistan are fighting for a separate statehood engaging in a low intensity conflict against the state. Balochistan insurgency is not getting the attention it is deserved. The paper focus on the human rights violations which are regularly happening in the province of Balochistan and the Baloch national fight for national self-determination. The people of Balochistan are fighting a very difficult battle with the Government and Forces of Pakistan. Unfortunately, every country in this world are just quietly ignoring them. Indian External Affairs Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj have raised the issue of balochistan in the United Nations “On 21st September, the Prime Minister of Pakistan used this podium to make baseless allegations about human rights violations in my country. I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan. The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of State oppression”[i] however there have been criticism from many that India have not done enough to create a kind of awareness in the international community about the Human rights violations in Balochistan.

Historical Events

Balochistan consisted of 4 princely states and one of them was Kalat. The choice given to all the 4 provinces by then prime minister Clement Attlee was to join Pakistan or to be Independent. Three of them except Kalat Voluntarily joined Pakistan. Kalat was led by, Ahmed Yaar Khan who was the ruler of Kalat and he chose to be independent. Muhammad Ali Jinnah tried to persuade the Khan but he denied, and after sometime the negotiations began. After some series of talks, on 27th march 1948, it was decided that Kalat would become a part of Pakistan[ii]. But on the contrary, the people of Balochistan believe that at that time , the leader of Kalat had two options. He chose to be independent after which the Khan was forced to sign the agreement. The Pakistani army marched in and illegally abducted the Khan. The separatist movement’s objective is to protect its customs, tradition and also their economic interest. There were 5 waves of insurgencies 1948, 1958, 1962, 1973, 2004 and one of the most sustained insurgency is which started in 2004. Large number of people are killed and kidnapped till now, also the representative of Balochistan Mehran Marri had stated in EU and UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) that the situation in Balochistan is at Grave as ever. Pakistan military operation has been continuing unabated. The army chief and Prime minister and the stooge minister have agreed on a national action plan to further isolate Baloch activist through certain other elimination process of genocide.”[iii]

Mainspring of Insurgencies

Alienation of Baloch People

Pakistan at the time of independence was a society of very diverse cultures but now it is evident that the minorities in Pakistan has suffered a lot. Baloch nationals is a minority group in Pakistan and they are basically Iranian people living in Balochistan region which is divided in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan and they mainly speak Northwestern Iranian Language. They are not equally represented in Politics and also there is very less participation from them in sports and armed forces. They are described as illiterate and uncivilized in the sociology textbook of Pakistan[iv] and the province of Balochistan is still very underdeveloped.

Underdevelopment and Exploitation of resources

Geo-strategically Balochistan is of very much importance to Pakistan because its very rich in natural resources but the level development in balochistan is the least. Even today, people do not have access to basic needs such as schools and hospitals because Pakistan doesn’t have any interest in welfare of the baloch people but only in its strategic importance and political and economic gains. Sui gas was discovered around 50 years back but still 70% of Balochistan’s population is deprived of  Sui gas, 78% of people are without electricity. Moreover Balochistan’s contribution of resources to rest of the country is 83% whereas its own consumption is only 17%.[v] Literacy rate of Balochistan was 24.8% in 2008[vi]. It is comparable with the poorest countries of the world. The economic gains from Balochistan is spent mainly on Punjab and then other states because the government of Pakistan is mainly concerned for the Punjab province. Large part of Land and mining contract is being given to chinese which have further angered the Balochis.

CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor)

CPEC was offered by china to connect the Gwadar port to the Chinese province Xinjiang with an estimated cost of $4 billion but this project may cause demographic changes in the region of balochistan which will lead to balochis becoming minority in their own region. This project is in the long term goal of china’s OBOR (one belt one road) initiative also this project includes, solar plants, expressway, motorway and many more. China wants to make this project a success as it has its own strategic and economic advantage in Pakistan. Gwadar port is leased to china for 40 years from which 50% of profit will be allocated to China, 48% to Pakistan and only 2% left for the province.[vii] Fishermen who are 80% of the population were displaced but still they haven’t received any compensation and also the technical position of the ports and the large part of the army are filled with Punjabis.

Military and Paramilitary abuses

The Pakistani army, The intelligence agency of Pakistan ISI (Inter services intelligence) and other governmental groups are accused for torturing, kidnapping and killing of innocent baloch people who try to raise their voice against the government. The ISI is accused of immense Human Rights Violations by Human Rights Watch for the sudden disappearances of Baloch Nationalists and Activists. 1102 (estimated) people were vanished from the region in the year 2008.[viii] The former chief minister of Balochistan Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal stated that the current civil disturbances in Balochistan were a direct result of “enforced disappearances”.[ix] However Pak Army denies all this allegations, Major Khan Niazi who is stationed in Balochistan said that the Baloch militants are using their fake uniforms to kidnap people with the main objective to harm their image.  

Recent Killings of Baloch Activists and attacks by Baloch separatist organization

Karima Baloch who was a chairperson of Baloch student organization- Azad, was found dead in Toronto on 20 December 2020. In Sweden, another Baloch  activist Sajid Hussain was found dead on 23rd April 2020. The Pashtun community which is a minority in Pakistan,  are also facing persecution same as the Balochis. A prominent activist of the Pashtun Tahufuz Movement , Arif Wazir was found dead on 7th October 2016. During the same time, laborers of gwadar port were killed by 2 gunmen on bike. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed the responsibility and also termed it as a reaction to the CPEC project. There was roadside bomb blast on 14th august 2017 which killed 8 Frontier corps men and responsibility of this attack was also claimed by BLA.

Downturn of Insurgency

In 2015 the separatist movement reached its peak with a sudden rise in number of attacks and fatalities but after which it started to decline. Baloch Insurgency is weakening due to number of factors. There is no unity among the separatists, the Baloch militants targets baloch politicians who talk about peace and often question their patriotism. Baloch militants also attack Non- baloch teachers who come there to teach the children in school. Serious leadership crisis developed after the death of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri (who was leading the Balochistan Movement). After his death the Baloch Movement was divided into many parts. Two of which was led by his two sons.[x] There were increased ideological differences as the whole insurgency was divided and different parts is headed by separate Individuals, where some were fighting for the separation and others for the greater autonomy within the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. As a result there is no unity in the movement which is leading towards the weakening of the Insurgency. Pakistan government introduced a scheme for baloch militants, it included incentives and rehabilitation of surrendered militants also money and government jobs. In 2017, the leader of the Balochistan Liberation Army Abdul Rasool with his group surrendered to the forces and many major figures surrendered to the forces.

It is to be noted that while the Baloch people have undoubtedly suffered a lot , at the same time they have been accused of persecuting minorities like shia and zikris. Shia community is a minority in Pakistan consisting of 20% of the Pakistan population, Shia are also targeted by Baloch Separatist Militants, the shia pilgrim which passes through a rigid terrain in Balochistan, is often targeted by the Baloch militants. [xi]


Since the last 72 years the people of balochistan are fighting for a separate statehood, to separate from Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Balochistan’s situation is exceedingly complex. There are two causes of baloch insurgency, one is the Historical Factor which includes the sense of belongingness problem and the other is the political factor which includes the lack of representation at the decision making. Exploitation of resources and lack of development is also an important factor in the separatist movement. The state should implement a peaceful solution, but the Pakistan Government is imposing a violent solution which is never ending.

Pakistan should revise its policy towards balochistan, Balochis are to be treated equally, ensure that there is enough economic development in the province and give the Baloch a guarantee that they will not be betrayed. Probably this will lead towards a solution that will be beneficial to both the sides. Keeping in mind that the UN charter recognize territorial integrity of the nation state.[xii] At the same time gives every nationality the right of self determination.













Advisory opinion of ICJ on Kosovo’s declaration of Independence is a case in point-

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