New Delhi/Washington, July 3 (IANS): The US has designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist group, evoking angry reaction from the group and an appeal to India, the EU and the US to take forward their freedom movement against the Pakistani rule in Balochistan province.
The US State Department on Tuseday said it was classifying the Balochistan Liberation Army as a global terrorist group, making it a crime for anyone in the United States to assist the militants and freezing any U.S. assets they may have.
The US’ move came ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s five-day visit to the US from July 20 during which he is to hold talks with President Donald Trump.
Jiyand Baloch, the official spokesperson of the Baloch Liberation Army, termed the US State Department’s ban as “beyond comprehension and unjustified”.
In a press statement, he said the US has become a “victim of Pakistani diplomatic blackmailing” even when the BLA has been “abiding by international laws while resisting Pakistani and Chinese expansionist designs” in resource-rich Balochistan region, where Beijing is constructing its multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“BLA is a moderate, secular and an armed defence organisation. BLA is resisting, on its motherland, against foreign intruders to protect its people. The international laws allow any person or nation to act in self-defence. The US State Department’s ban on BLA is beyond comprehension and unjustified,” Baloch said.
The Pakistan Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said: “BLA remains a proscribed entity in Pakistan since 2006 and in recent times has carried out several attacks in the country.”
In tweets, Allah Nizar, leader of the the Baloch Students Organisation, said their people were subject to “genocide” by the Pakistani authorities and urged the UN to send its peacekeeping mission to Balochistan.
“We the Baloch appeal to India, @EU_Commission and the USA to take the Baloch freedom movement as their policy agenda and cut diplomatic and trade ties with Pakistan as they have with various countries. @UN must send its peacekeeping mission to Balochistan,” Nizar tweeted.
The BLA is accused of targeting Chinese entities in Pakistan several times, including launching an attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi that killed four people in November last year.