• Four heavily armed gunmen attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi. Pakistan’s Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) later claimed responsibility for the attack.
• The Balochistan region is divided almost evenly between Pakistan (where it’s called Balochistan) and Iran. A part of it lies in Afghanistan too. Politically, it comprises the Pakistani province of Balochistan, the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and the southern areas of Afghanistan.
• Formerly under British rule, Balochistan was declared independent on August 11, 1947 and it formed a parliament. But Pakistan illegally occupied (because people were never asked what they wanted) it on March 27, 1948.
• The land holds significant reserves of gas, gold, copper, oil and uranium, but is mostly untapped by Iran. The Pakistani area continues to be poor too, because the country is accused of allegedly siphoning the area’s resources away from its people and towards Punjab.
• Pakistan is accused of systematically repressing and marginalising Balochs. It’s said that over 1,40,000 have been displaced since 2004-2005. Balochs are denied jobs and even basic facilities like water and electricity.
Baloch Liberation Army (BLA):
• The BLA, the armed wing of the Baloch movement, has carried out several violent attacks in Pakistan. It has about 6,000 cadre spread across the Balochistan Province and in the bordering areas of Afghanistan. It has been banned by Pakistan since 2006.
• BLA rebels have claimed that they are aiming for both freedom from Pakistan and internal reform of the Baloch society. They are opposed to the traditional sardar or Kawailey system at home.
• The BLA has often been accused of launching attacks on Pakistan’s military targets and on Chinese-built infrastructure. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is passing through Balochistan.
Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: Baloch Liberation Army
Mains level: Details about Baloch Liberation Army and their key demands from the state of Pakistan