Following the U.S. ban on the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the militant organisation’s support base has widened within the political spectrum of Balochistan with even a prominent overground leader urging the U.S. to reconsider its decision. Hyrbyair Marri, one of the nationalist leaders living in exile, has come out with open support for the militant organisation.
“Taliban, the brainchild of Pakistan, has been complicit in bringing the Twin Towers down and now the U.S. has unfortunately bent its knees to appease Pakistan and Taliban by banning the Baloch organisation. The Trump administration should rethink their decision,” he said in a message on the social media. Mr. Marri is a son of the late Khair Bakhsh Marri and a political scion of the Marri clan. He is known as a leader for the Free Balochistan Movement and remains in exile but not in hiding.
Mr. Marri’s comment came days after the U.S. Treasury added the BLA in the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. His comment reflects the position taken by the head of the BLA Bashir Zeb Baloch who had called upon the U.S., the EU and others to find out the “real terrorists” in Balochistan. A spokesperson of the outfit, Jiyand Baloch, had also urged for a reconsideration of the U.S. ban.
The Marris are a family of traditional aristocrats of the Pakistani province whose hold on the movement is being challenged by the more aggressive BLA cadre. Mr. Marri had in the past said he was not associated with the BLA and the latest social media message is a sign of acceptance of its growing popularity among all sections of the Baloch movement. The BLA activists have indicated that they oppose the traditional feudal sardars like the Marris and the Bugtis and want a social reform in the province alongside freedom from Islamabad.
Baloch spokespersons claim that “death squads” are active in the province that assist the law and order operations of the Pakistani military against the rebels and have claimed of several operations that they have conducted against Pakistani forces in recent weeks.