Majeed Brigade (self-sacrificing brigade) of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) attacked Karachi Stock Exchange on June 29, 2020. This daring attack had a high symbolic significance as it catapulted Balochistan’s freedom struggle on prime time news across the world. Basheer Zeb Baloch, BLA Chief told News Intervention in this Exclusive Interview that Baloch pro-independence groups use violence in reply to Pakistani invasion and occupation. BLA’s Karachi attack was a message to the world that Pakistan has occupied Baloch land and had been plundering the resources of Balochistan with China’s help. The Karachi Exchange attack is BLA’s third high profile attack in recent years. In November 2018 the BLA had attacked Chinese consulate in Karachi. In May 2019 BLA attacked Pearl Continental Hotel at Gwadar. The Gwadar and Karachi Stock Exchange attacks have been carried under the leadership of Basheer Zeb who was anointed as BLA Chief, after the former Chief Aslam Baloch was martyred by an ISI attack in Afghanistan.
Vivek Sinha: Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) attacked the Karachi Stock Exchange on June 29. What was the basic objective of this attack?
Basheer Zeb: Every attack by BLA, whether small scale or big, is basically aimed at weakening the occupiers’ strength who has been ruling Baloch motherland by force. Every attack is a step towards achieving our ultimate objective of achieving Balochistan’s Freedom. Similarly, Karachi Stock Exchange attack was carried out with the same aim of targeting the enemy’s economy and the very symbol of the exploitation of Baloch national resources. The attack was also a message to the world that Pakistan has occupied Baloch land and plundering our resources with the help of China who provides military, economic and diplomatic support to Pakistan. Baloch will not accept the occupation of their land and will not tolerate the nexus of China and Pakistan that are involved in the plundering of Baloch resources.
Vivek Sinha: Karachi Police officials had told News Intervention that more than 30 people were killed in the BLA’s suicide attack on Karachi Stock Exchange. But the Karachi Stock Exchange was functional from the next day. Do you think BLA’s attack had attained its objective?
Basheer Zeb: The objectives of BLA Majeed Brigade’s attacks have never been to indiscriminately kill. Pakistani authorities never reveal the correct numbers of the casualties. Also, we do not measure the success of any mission with the number of casualties suffered by the enemy but we take the larger perspective and ultimate goal under consideration that what progression was achieved, how much were we able to highlight Balochistan’s issue to the world and what implications our enemy will suffer in long term. Undoubtedly, Baloch Fidayeen succeeded in reaching Pakistan’s red security zone and attacked one of the buildings which was very important for its economy. On one hand, it showed enemy that we can reach anywhere we intend to and on the other hand, the foreign investors will think twice before investing in PSX (Pakistan Stock Exchange). We consider this our success and for that Stock Exchange attack was a very successful mission.
Vivek Sinha: The four Karachi attackers of the Majeed Brigade have said in their video message that they will try their best to keep the loss of innocent human lives at minimum and yet more than 30 people were killed during the Karachi attack. How can the BLA justify its attacks?
Basheer Zeb: Baloch did not start this war but we are defending ourselves against foreign invaders. We are a peaceful nation and our violence is only in retaliation and self-defense. It is counter-violence against the violence we face every day at the hands of the enemy. Balochs did not ask for this but the war was imposed upon us by an enemy state that has occupied our motherland. Therefore, to end this war and achieve freedom and peace we have no options but to fight. War is the last thing anyone would want, war is a curse, wars make orphans, they bring death, mayhem, and destruction. That’s what you can expect when a war is waged, that’s why the world should condemn and act against warmongers like Pakistan that starts war against oppressed nations instead of condemning the oppressed nations who are fighting to defend themselves. People do lose their lives in attacks like Karachi Stock Exchange but one should look closely that who were the dead men? They were either uniformed personnel of Pakistan or those who help the state strengthen and prolong her occupation on Balochistan, only such facilitators have been targeted by BLA and Baloch nation to regain their national independence. However, if one compares the guerrilla movements across the world, the loss of innocent lives due to collateral damage has been the lowest in BLA or Majeed Brigade’s attacks.
Vivek Sinha: Several media groups call BLA revolutionaries as “terrorists”. Your comments.
Basheer Zeb: Who is a terrorist? It depends entirely on the subjective outlook of the definer. One man’s revolutionary is a terrorist to others. If we look closely at the basic difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist, the freedom fighter is forced to adopt counter-violence whereas the terrorist starts the violence and his violence is indiscriminate. Taking this under consideration, Baloch pro-independence groups are using violence in a reply to Pakistani invasion and occupation. Our counter-violence is not indiscriminate but targeted; the targets are Pakistani Army, military, and exploitative facilities and those who facilitate the enemy in its illegal occupation of Balochistan. On the other side, Pakistan began the violence by attacking Balochistan and to this date is killing common people in indiscriminate bombardments and military operations. So, who is the terrorist?
Vivek Sinha: How is BLA different from other armed groups in the South Asian region?
Basheer Zeb: South Asia has several ongoing indigenous movements with different armed groups active in the region. It is not possible to compare BLA against all collectively. However, there are a few movements that have a resemblance to ours, such as the freedom movement of the Sindhi nation. Other movements cannot be called indigenous as many are mere state-sponsored proxies to destabilize countries. Besides that, there are religious extremist groups. BLA is different than both, the proxies and religious extremists. BLA does not force its ideology on people and neither carries out attacks just to spread fear among masses. It is fighting to defend its motherland against foreign invaders and occupiers. It aims at regaining the freedom of secular and democratic Balochistan where everyone will have the right to practice its religion and spend a peaceful life. And unlike proxies in the region, BLA is the result of a homegrown resistance movement and it has a long history with roots deep in Baloch land. BLA never depended on foreign support and its power stems from Baloch people and Balochistan.