Author: Yaran Diyar
Two Baloch “pro-independence” armed groups, Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and United Baloch Army (UBA) have announced their merger and formation of a new “resistance organisation,” the Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA).
A joint statement by BRA and UBA was released on January 11, 2022, saying a joint meeting of command councils of both groups was held in Balochistan, where Baloch politics and resistance war was discussed in detail. “In order to further expand the national resistance war and to unite the Baloch resistance forces against fascism of Pakistani military,” they announced to continue their resistance under the name ‘Baloch Nationalist Army’.
“The only spokespersons for the BNA, in the media will be Mureed Baloch, while the official channel of the organisation will be called ‘Baask’ whereas, BNA will continue to be part of umbrella organisation “Baloch Raji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS)” in continuation of BRA,” the statement quoted.
Baloch Republican Army (BRA)
BRA was formed after the military operation in Dera Bugti and murder of a renowned Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, by Pakistan Army in 2006. In the beginning, the group was mostly joined by Bugti tribesmen but later years it gained popularity among Baloch students and in urban areas of Balochistan to fight against the “Pakistani oppression”.
BRA never identified its head in media or to the public. However, Pakistani government have had claimed many times that Brahmdagh Bugti, grandson of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, is the alleged leader of Baloch Republican Army. Bugti is currently residing in exile in Switzerland and denies Pakistani accusations.
In October 2018, BRA went through a dissension when the membership of a prominent regional commander of the group Gulzar Imam alias Shambay was cancelled in a press release by the BRA spokesman, Sarbaz Baloch. According to analysts and local political circles, After the above mentioned internal dispute, BRA got divided in two factions, majority of the fighters stayed with Gulzar Imam.
Imam hails from Panjgur district of Balochistan and was the president of the Panjgur zone of BSO-Azad, a student organisation. Later he joined the BRA and became one of the renowned commanders. Imam reportedly has more control over the group in Makran region and in some other urban areas of Balochistan as compared to the faction loyal to Bugtis, which has strongholds in Dera Bugti and Naseerabad districts.
A statement came later in November 2018 from BRA spokesman Beebagr Baloch, who said that their regional commanders do not accept the decision of the spokesman Sarbaz Baloch, as it was taken without the consent of their senior commanders. In a statement on social media once Imam said that “not only the Pakistani government but the pro-independence tribal chiefs are also trying to weaken and break us.”
In his tweet, referring to the “anti-movement” attitudes of the tribal chiefs, he said that the leadership of pro-independence groups who belong to Chieftain families should abandon their tribal attitude with their comrades. And try to solve organisational problems through political means instead of tribal style, so that the atmosphere of mistrust may disappear and all entities play their role in restoring trust. Imam’s BRA faction later joined the BRAS, then an alliance of three other armed groups, which was initiated by the BLA chief Aslam Baloch and the prominent BLF leader Dr. Allah Nizar Baloch, subsequently it was joined by another Baloch armed group, Baloch Republican Guards.
United Baloch Army (UBA)
UBA is a scion of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), when in 2010 the then alleged leader of BLA, Hyrbyair Marri accused his brother Mehran Marri of corruption who was caretaker of BLA affairs in his absence and is currently the alleged head of the UBA. The accusations of corruption were never proved. Meanwhile the alleged leader of UBA Mehran Marri claimed that his differences with his brother were due to Hyrbyair’s authoritarian personality and his unequal and unjust behaviour towards organisational commanders. It is widely believed Mehran Marri also enjoyed support of his father late Nawab Khair Baksh Marri.
Furthermore, another dispute between UBA commander and spokesperson Sarfraz Bangulzai alias Mureed Baloch and UBA leadership created two factions of the group last year. In October 2021, UBA’s spokesperson Mazar Baloch said that their high command has annulled Mr. Bangulazi’s membership for not following through the organisational values. Hence Mazar Baloch will be the organisation’s sole spokesperson in the future.
In Mazar’s response, Mureed Baloch stated: “We want to make it clear to the nation that the commander of the organization [Mureed Baloch] was punished for his attempts for unity and solidarity, including his attempt to include UBA in the BRAS alliance—on which the so-called High Command Mehran Marri was terrified because he did not believe in unity.”
Subsequently, Mureed Baloch’s UBA merged with BRA, thus forming the Baloch Nationalist Army. Now the BNA will be a part of the BRAS alliance, of which the BRA was already an ally including 3 other Baloch armed groups.
Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS)
In 2017 Baloch Liberation Army had to go through another organisational dispute, which resulted in emergence of a new BLA head Aslam Baloch aka General. In August 2018, BLA spokesperson Jeeyand Baloch said in a media statement that it does not have any representatives in London, Europe or the US. “The BLA completely disassociates itself from a particular ‘egoistic person and his tiny group’ from today,” statement read.
Aslam Baloch was one of the most senior commanders of BLA and later the head of the organisation until his death in a suicide attack in December 2018. He was also the founder of the BLA’s Majeed Brigade, the deadliest group ever existed in Baloch movement. Majeed Brigade is known for its deadly self-sacrificing attacks. One of the Brigade’s member was Aslam Baloch’s 22-year-old son who carried out a suicide attack on August 11 2018 on the Chinese engineers in Balochistan.
Aslam Baloch is considered as the architect of the Baloch Raji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS), an umbrella organisation formed on November 10, 2018. It is comprised of Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Republican Guards (BRG), and recently joined by a pro-independence armed group from Sindh province, Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA).
BRAS is known for its massive attacks on Pakistan Army and other security forces. BRAS has claimed multiple deadly attacks on Pakistani forces across Balochistan. Since the coalition, a serge has been witnessed in armed attacks on Pakistani troops and government installations.
Baloch people in many areas of Balochistan are still living in a tribal society and due to having a massive influence, the tribal chieftains have always been the face of political movements, peace agreements and leaders of resistance groups as well. In the current insurgency, most of the rifts, dissensions and separations also point out one common factor of the chieftains trying to control the organisations while the other members are striving for unity.