Arrest of Gulzar Imam: Implications for the Baloch National Struggle – TBP Editorial

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According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of the Pakistani Army, security forces have arrested high-value target Gulzar Imam, also known as Shambay, in an intelligence operation. Gulzar Imam is the founder and supreme commander of the pro-independence armed organization, Baloch Nationalist Army. The Pakistani Army is presenting the arrest of Gulzar Imam as a great success, while his organization claims that he was in the custody of the Pakistan Army for a year and was arrested in Turkey on May 3, 2022.

The Baloch Nationalist Army has expressed concern in its statements that the state of Pakistan will torture Gulzar Imam and use it against the Baloch national movement, engaging in propaganda against the movement. Pakistan describes the arrest of Gulzar Imam as a major setback for the Baloch movement, and analysts also call the arrest of a high-profile guerrilla commander a success for Pakistan for the first time in two decades, predicting a negative impact on the Baloch independence struggle.

Pakistan’s defense analysts interpreting the arrest of Gulzar Imam as the weakening of the Baloch national struggle ignore the historical continuity of the movement and predict its weakening or end based on individual incidents. These predictions are not new but are frequently made since the revival of the Baloch movement in the 21st century. General Pervez Musharraf had said that there are only three chieftains and some fugitive camps that will be eliminated soon, but even after two decades, the Baloch National Freedom Movement continues its momentum.

Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik during the rule of the People’s Party, Chaudhry Nisar during the rule of the Muslim League, and the various generals of the Pakistan Army have talked about crushing the Baloch national struggle by force, but their efforts have failed. In recent years, armed organizations associated with the Baloch movement have directly targeted China’s interests in Pakistan, a sign of the movement’s organization and coordination.

The arrest of Gulzar Imam will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the Baloch movement, but it is premature to conclude that his arrest will weaken the movement. Predictions of the end of the Baloch movement have been made in the past after the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Balach Khan Marri, Chairman Ghulam Muhammad, and Aslam Baloch, but the Baloch national independence movement continues to this day in an organized form.

Observing the Baloch national struggleclosely, we know that the movement is organized institutionally, and until the Baloch problem is resolved, the movement will continue. The arrest or killing of leaders will undoubtedly have an impact, but the movement’s continuation will persist.

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