Flag used by most Baloch nationalists and separatists, designed by Jumma Khan Marri in 2003.

Baloch nationalism (Balochi: بلۏچی راجدۏستی, romanized: Balòci ràjdòsti) is an ideology that asserts that the Baloch people, an Iranic ethnic group native to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, form a distinct nation. The origins of modern Baloch nationalism coupled with the insurgency in Balochistan involving various militant organizations, go back to the period of the partition of British India and subsequent independence of Pakistan, when Kalat, the largest Baloch princely state, acceded to the Dominion of Pakistan.[1]

Baloch ethnicity and nationalism

Baloch people are an Iranic ethnic group native to southeastern Iran, southwestern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan.

The Baloch nationalist movement's demands have ranged from greater cultural, economic and political rights, to political autonomy, to outright secession and the creation of an independent state of Balochistan. The movement is secular and heavily influenced by leftist Marxist ideology, like its other counterparts in other parts of Pakistan.

The movement claims to receive considerable support from the Baloch diaspora in Oman, the UAE, Sweden, Norway, and other countries. Pakistan has repeatedly made claims that the Baloch nationalists have received funding from India,[2] although these have been denied by India.[3] Similarly, Afghanistan has acknowledged providing covert support to the Baloch nationalist militants. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Republic of Afghanistan provided sanctuary to Baloch militants. The Republic of Afghanistan had established training camps in Kandahar to train Baloch militants and also to provide arms and ammunition.[4][5]

Modern Baloch nationalism

Baloch nationalism in its modern form began in the form of the Anjuman-e-Ittehad-e-Balochan (Organisation for Unity of the Baloch) based in Mastung in 1929, led by Yousaf Aziz Magsi, Abdul Aziz Kurd and others.[6] In November 1929, Yousaf Aziz Magsi published an article stating the aims of the group, namely:

  1. Unification and independence of Balochistan;
  2. A democratic, socialist system guided by Islamic universalism;
  3. Abolition of the sardari-jirga system;
  4. Free, compulsory education for the Baloch, and equality for Baloch women;
  5. Promotion of Baloch culture.[7][6]
    Flag of Balochistan, which was introduced and used by Baloch Liberation Army as the national flag of Balochistan. Currently it is one of the popular symbol of freedom movement in the region.

Simultaneously with the formation of the Anjuman, Baloch intellectuals in Karachi formed a nationalist organisation, called the Baloch League.[7]

In February 1937, the Anjuman reorganised and became the Kalat State National Party, carrying on the Anjuman's political agenda of an independent united state of Balochistan. They demanded the independence of the ancient Khanate of Kalat, which was later incorporated into Pakistan in 1955.[7] The party was dominated by more secular-minded, anti-imperialist and populist elements, such as Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Mir Gul Khan Naseer and Abdul Aziz Kurd. When parliamentary elections were held in the State of Kalat, the party was the largest winner with a considerable majority.[7]

In 2017, the World Baloch Organisation placed advertisements on taxis in London to say #FreeBalochistan along with slogans such as "Stop enforced disappearances" and "Save the Baloch people". These were initially allowed but later denied permission by Transport for London. The World Baloch Organisation claimed that this was a result of pressure from the Pakistani Government after the British High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned to appear before the Pakistani Foreign Secretary.[8]

Support for separatism in Pakistan's Balochistan

In 2012, Gallup conducted a survey for the United Kingdom's Department for International Development that revealed that the majority of Baloch do not support independence from Pakistan. About 37 percent of Baloch were in favour of independence. Amongst Balochistan's Pashtun population support for independence was even lower at 12 percent. However, a majority (67 percent) of Balochistan's population did favour greater provincial autonomy.[9][10]

A survey in 2009 by the Pew Research Center found that 58% of respondents in Balochistan chose "Pakistani" as their primary mode of identification, 32% chose their ethnicity and 10% chose both equally.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Sheikh, Salman Rafi (2018). The Genesis of Baloch Nationalism: Politics and Ethnicity in Pakistan, 1947–1977. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-351-02068-8.
  2. ^ "India supporting Baluchistan violence: Pak". Ia.refiff.com. 6 January 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  3. ^ "US bails out India from Balochistan wrangle". The Times of India. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  4. ^ Sirrs, Owen L. (2016). Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate: Covert Action and Internal Operations. Routledge. ISBN 9781317196082.
  5. ^ Newton, Michael (2014). Famous Assassination in World History:An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 106. ISBN 9781610692861. By 1976, while proxy guerilla war with Pakistan, Daoud faced rising Islamic fundamentalists movement led by exiled cleric aided openly by Pakistani prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
  6. ^ a b Khosa, Tariq (20 July 2020). "Baloch Nationalism". Dawn. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d Baloch Nationalism: Its Origin and Development, Taj Mohammad Breseeg, 2004
  8. ^ Mortimer, Caroline (6 November 2017). "TfL removes 'Free Balochistan' adverts from London black cabs after pressure from Pakistani government". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  9. ^ Grare, Frédéric (11 April 2013). "Balochistan: The State Versus the Nation". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Archived from the original on 19 August 2023. According to a July 2012 survey, only 37 percent of the Baloch favor independence, and a mere 12 percent of Balochistan's Pashtuns favor that option. However, 67 percent of the total population supports greater provincial autonomy.
  10. ^ "Only 37% Baloch favour independence: UK survey". Khaleej Times. 15 August 2012. Archived from the original on 19 August 2023.
  11. ^ "Pakistani Public Opinion – Chapter 2. Religion, Law, and Society". Pew Research Center. 13 August 2009. Archived from the original on 6 May 2024. In Baluchistan, the southwestern territory with rugged terrain and sparse population, 32% say they identify themselves first by their ethnicity and 58% say they identify themselves first as Pakistanis.