balochi_280Balochistan extends over 350,000 square kms (approximately the size of Germany) and is the largest province in the Pakistan Federation. Around seven million people live in Balochistan and since the population comprises of Iranians, Pakistanis and Afghanis this vast desert territory is by and large divided along ethnic lines. Despite Balochistan being amongst the richest province in Pakistan, with valuable natural resources in gold, cobalt and gas, its people are the poorest, suffering for decades under the rule of the Punjabi government. Seeking to address this economic discrimination is one of the main driving forces behind the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), an armed group who’s resistance regularly makes headlines in the Pakistani national press.

Balochis cultivate a particular resentment towards centralised power, accusing the government of enslaving them and delaying provincial development whilst at the same time plundering Balochistan’s rich resources. The BLA became most active after 2006 when a number of Balochi political leaders were killed. The BLA continues to target the Pakistani army which they view as an occupying imperialist force.
Marc Wattrelot