Pakistani Army kills 24 militants in southwestern Balochistan

In an official statement released on Friday, it was announced that the Pakistani army eliminated 24 militants during an anti-terrorism operation in Balochistan province’s southwest region. Over the past three days of the military campaign, four soldiers and two civilians lost their lives, as stated by ISPR.

Security forces initiated “clearance operations” against terrorists following attacks on the Mach and Kolpur Complexes earlier this week in Balochistan. Notable terrorists among those killed include Shehzad Baloch, Attaullah, Salah Uddin, Abdul Wadood, and Zeeshan, with the identification process of the remaining terrorists underway.

On Tuesday, outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) militants conducted assaults on various facilities, including the security forces complex, Mach railway station, and Mach jail, engaging in clashes with security forces for several hours. Balochistan’s caretaker Information Minister, Jan Achakzai, confirmed that security forces successfully thwarted the militant attack, resulting in the demise of five terrorists. 

Balochistan, constituting 43.6 percent of Pakistan’s total area, stands as the country’s largest province. It possesses abundant natural resources such as gold, copper, oil, and natural gas and features a strategic 770-km coastline, housing the significant Gwadar Port, a focal point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Despite its natural wealth, Balochistan remains Pakistan’s most impoverished province. The Baloch ethnic group, representing a third of the population, has faced long-standing marginalisation due to discriminatory policies by the Pakistani government. This marginalisation has sparked an enduring armed resistance.

The recent cycle of violence, originating in the 2000s, stems from demands for equitable resource distribution among the Baloch people. Over time, calls for independence have also surfaced. However, not all Baloch individuals endorse the armed factions; many believe that a political resolution is achievable if Islamabad acknowledges and addresses their grievances.

Historically, governments have responded to the issue with coercion, aiming to suppress armed groups while also stigmatising and instilling fear within the Baloch community. Even non-violent Baloch activists and politicians advocating for political and legal remedies have been labelled as “terrorists.”

Consequently, Islamabad has squandered numerous opportunities to engage with Baloch society and pursue a peaceful, political resolution.

Over the past three days of the military campaign, four soldiers and two civilians lost their lives, as stated by ISPR.