Pakistan arrests top leader of Baloch insurgent coalition
Islamabad, Apr 15 (EFE).- Security forces have arrested a key Baloch rebel commander who led a separatist coalition fighting the government in Pakistan’s restive western region.
The army said the capture of Gulzar Imam alias Shambay was a “serious blow” to the insurgency movement in the mineral- and gas-rich region.
The Pakistan Army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said the security forces captured Imam in an intelligence operation.
The army did not give details about the location and when the security forces carried out the operation.
“He (Imam) was apprehended after an innovatively conceived, carefully planned, and meticulously executed operation, spanning over months over various geographical locations,” an army statement said.
The military said Imam was a hardcore militant and the founder of the banned Baloch National Army (BNA), which came into being after the amalgamation of the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and United Baloch Army (UBA).
An unending insurgency movement has long plagued the volatile province. Baloch nationalists fight for greater autonomy and control of the province’s natural gas and mineral resources.
They say the federal government in Islamabad is exploiting the Baloch natural resources to benefit other parts of the country.
The army blames the BNA for militant attacks in the country, including strikes on law enforcement agencies and infrastructure.
Imam was once among the trusted lieutenants of Brahamdagh Bugti, the grandson of a Baloch rebel leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, killed in late 2006.
Bugti currently lives in self-exile in an unknown country. His previous known location was Switzerland before the European country turned down his asylum request.
ISPR said Imam was instrumental in allying three Baloch separatist groups that claimed several attacks on Pakistani security forces.
According to the annual Global Terrorism Index report, Pakistan recorded the second-largest increase in terrorism-related deaths worldwide in 2022, with the toll rising significantly to 643, a 120 percent rise from the 292 deaths in the previous year.
The report said BLA was responsible for more than a third of terror-related deaths in Pakistan, noting that the Baloch group had overtaken the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the deadliest terrorist outfit in the country. EFE