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Baloch separatists inching closer after years of infighting

The Baloch separatist groups that had been involved in a self-destructive infighting for the last four years are inching closer in the aftermath of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement to help highlight human rights abuses in Balochistan.

Two major separatist political parties, the Baloch National Movement and the Baloch Republication Party, issued a joint statement the other day claiming they were approaching towards an alliance.

The statement came after a telephonic conversation between the heads of both parties, Khalil Baloch and Brahmdagh Bugti, respectively. A source told the BT it was their first one-to-one talk in the last one-and-a-half years.

“Talks (for an alliance) will soon begin between the two parties. Both parties will form their respective committee for negotiations that will meet on a regular basis to help boost cooperation and mutual trust between the parties,” read the joint statement, released on the official website of the Baloch National Movement.

Mr Bugti and Mr Baloch also invited any third political group to join the talks for forming an alliance. They, however, categorically rejected any talks with individuals.

“Both the party chiefs agreed that only political parties could decide the fate of a nation. Therefore, personal and undemocratic politics should be discouraged, cooperation and unity should be promoted among the like-minded groups.”

Pinpointing Khan of Kalat Sulaiman Khan Daud, Muneer Mengal and Ms Naila Qadri, the statement said that these individuals should join political parties to contribute towards the Baloch cause.

“Individual activism can lead to unruliness,” the statement said.

Another important separatist leader, Hairbiyar Marri, has also formed a three-member committee to approach other like-minded groups for talks.

Without being part of any political party for years, Mr Marri seems to be in the process of forming his own party. His followers are now campaigning under the banner of shadowy Free Balochistan Movement, which sources say would soon be organized into a proper political party.

“We realized we are dying for the same cause. Yes, we all made mistakes but the last four or five years of infighting was not the solution. We could’ve stopped it a long time ago,” said a leader from Mr Marri’s camp on condition of anonymity.

Lack of international support and the wrangling between the separatists have helped Pakistan’s counter-insurgency operations weaken the already fragile insurgency. A number of key Baloch leaders were killed during the last four years while the military was able to retake control of several key militant strongholds.

Modi’s promise of support has given fresh impetus to the Baloch separatist movement. The Baloch leaders seem to have realized it’s high time to form unity among their ranks to gain from the Indian backing.

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