Sunday, March 6, 2016

Balochistan counter-insurgency enters new stage after Dr Mannan Baloch killed

BY Mian Abrar

With the killing of Baloch militant leader Dr Mannan Baloch, the civilian and army leadership in Balochistan believe they have neutralised a major network of terrorist attempting to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and successfully completed the current phase of the anti-terrorist operations in the province.

The killing of Mannan Baloch, the second-in-command of Baloch militant Dr Allah Nazar, in a security forces operation in Mastung on January 30, is being viewed as a major success in anti-terror campaign.

Dr Mannan who belonged to the banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) was killed along with his four other accomplices including Balochistan Liberation Army’s (BLA) notorious commander Ashraf.

While Baloch National Movement (BNM) has claimed Dr Mannan was a political worker and not a militant commander, the Balochistan government denies all such assertions.

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti says Dr Mannan Baloch was the second-in-command of BLF, and was running the banned separatist group after its previous head Dr Allah Nazar Baloch was killed by security forces last year.

“I confirm that Dr Mannan Baloch, who was also general secretary of the Balochistan National Movement (BNM), was killed during a shootout with the Frontier Corp (FC),” Bugti told a news briefing in Quetta. He said that both militants had masterminded the May 2015 massacre of 23 passengers of a Punjab-bound bus in Mastung district. The victims were all labourers and belonged to different districts of Punjab.


National Party (NP) President Senator Hasil Bizenjo told Pakistan Today that both claims about Dr Mannan Baloch were partially true.

“I’ve known Dr Mannan for a long time. When the Baloch National Movement (BNM) was formed after death of Ghulam Mohammad, Mr Khalil became the president of the new offshoot while Dr Mannan became its general-secretary,” Senator Bizenjo said.

“Later, Mannan became more actively involved in recruiting people for insurgency against the security forces. Gradually BNM was turned into an organisation to provide political cover to the BLF insurgency. So Mannan was the BNM leader and a militant working for the BLF. He was the operational commander for the BLF. When most of the Baloch militants fled the country, Mannan became the most active local operative for the BLF. Recently, he had become even more lethal than Dr Allah Nazar,” he added.

Asked whether there was any clue of Dr Allah Nazar’s whereabouts, Senator Hasil Bizenjo said his party had no idea where Dr Allah Nazar had been of late.


Well placed sources in the Balochistan government told Pakistan Today that the killing of separatist leader Mannan Baloch by the security forces in Mastung was been seen as a milestone for the establishment of peace in the restive province.

“Mannan was a militant commander who had appeared armed in numerous videos and photographs. In those videos, Mannan took responsibility for many attacks involving the killing of pro-government civilians and policemen. Mannan never took pride in his political struggle for the rights of Baloch people. Even in the aftermath of the September 2013 earthquake, Mannan was actively involved in targeting law enforcement agencies operating for relief activities in Awaran District,” an official source in the Balochistan government told Pakistan Today.

“On the directions of his handlers, Dr Mannan became a staunch critic of the CPEC. His effort was to show that ethnic Baloch people viewed the project as a colonising endeavor by the military and the Chinese government to ‘usurp the Baloch land and resources’,” the source added.

The official said that Dr Mannan was making efforts to create a perception among Baloch youth that the exiled Baloch leaders opposed these construction projects in Balochistan because of the fear that the Baloch will not be the primary recipient of the investment.

“Dr Mannan was spearheading a campaign on social media that the Baloch people who make only five per cent of Pakistan’s total population, will be converted into a minority on their own land with the influx of ‘outsiders’ in the port city of Gwadar once CPEC is completed,” the source said, quoting the evidence found at a militant hideout.

“But Mannan was also the secretary general of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) an intrepid political mobiliser whose party could successfully hold shutter down strikes in Khuzdar to propagate the separatist theme. He was also able to influence many educated youth and further the insurgents’ agenda,” the official said.

Asked how and where Dr Mannan was targeted, an official of the law enforcement agencies said Mannan, 48, was targeted in a hideout along with his four companions.

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions.

About Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. 

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