“The Secretary General of BNM (Baloch National Movement) and top Commander of BLF (Balochistan Liberation Front) Dr Manan Baloch are among five terrorists killed in Mastung,” said Sarfaraz Bugti, the Interior Minister of Balochistan.
Many Baloch political circles have depicted Dr Manan Baloch as a political leader who has been politically working for the rights and development of Balochistan, not as terrorist.
However, you scratch some political groups in Balochistan you will find militancy bubbling under the surface. Actually since 2006 the start of militancy in Balochistan, many political groups emerged who served as political cover for militancy providing foot soldiers and narrative to justify attack on state installations and minorities legitimising terrorism for the cause of “separate homeland”.
Even some political party members, students, doctors and tribal leaders were found to have their links to foreign agencies and terrorist activities.
Dr Manan Baloch’s BNM (Baloch National Party) has also a history of supporting militancy and providing narrative, effectively working as front cover for militancy.
In 2009, BNM’s President Ghulam Muhammad Baloch-I still remember he had a militant mindset from the start when he was BSO’s young leader from my student days in Balochistan University- along with two other activists Lala Munir and Sheer Muhammad, were killed in mysterious circumstances. Some reports suggested they were killed by some people over a dispute on ransom money for UNHCR’s Quetta Director, John Solecki’s release.
Many in Balochistan know that BNM and BSO (Azad) are actually umbrella for Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF)-the most active separatist militant outfit once led by Sheet Muhammad Marri and now by Dr Allah Nazar. Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) act as political platform but actually operates as Balochistan Republican Army (BRA). These organisations act as front for militants outfits.
Other moderate political forces like National Party of Hasil Bizenjo and BNP-Mengal of Sardar Akhtar Mengal may have all sympathy for the separatists’ “cause” but they do not agree with militants’ modus operandi of using violence against the state of Pakistan.
Dr Manan had crossed that thin line and transformed himself from a political leader to a militant leader as he believed in militancy as solution for “Independent” Balochistan. His tweets suggested his hardline militant mindset he had it, as he used even word “rogue” for the state of Pakistan.
In another tweet, he said: “Assurance & admiration by Gen Fan Chanlong in security of CPEC is another evidence of China-Pakistan alliance in war crimes in Balochistan”.
Mastung attack on FC Convey suggests that In the process of their overt public support for the idea of “Independent” Balochistan, the likes of Dr Manan can also end up participating in tactical operations.
However, what is obvious is that Insurgency in Balochistan is in its last throes:
Natural death of veteran separatist leader Khair Bakash Marry demoralised militants. Doubts and opposition by another veteran leader Sardar Attaullah Mengal-who also died of a natural cause- undermined the narrative of separatists when he said that after separating from Pakistan, they will be forced to join by Iran. Militancy swiftly precipitated its decline when over dozens various separatist groups indulged in infighting, killings and collaborating with foreign agencies.
The hope of CPEC and Gawadar becoming a regional trading hub gave more reasons to the people of Balochistan to see the end of militancy and becoming stake holders in regional transformation from militancy ironically underpinned by geo-political rivalry, to geo-economic contest.
The Author is Geo-Strategist and Expert on militancy.