The purported founder of the banned Balochistan National Army (BNA), Gulzar Imam Baloch alias Shambay, on Tuesday said he is willing to negotiate between the government and security forces and Baloch militants to resolve all pending issues peacefully.
In a press conference arranged by security forces—and also attended by provincial ministers—at the Sikander Jamali Auditorium in Quetta, he stressed that he had now realized there was no benefit to fighting the state. He further alleged—without specifying anyone—that neighboring countries were using the people of Balochistan for “anti-national” activities.
“The path I had chosen for achieving the rights of the people of Balochistan was not the right decision,” he lamented, admitting that he had been involved in dozens of violent terrorist attacks on law enforcement agencies and installations, including assaults on law enforcement in Panjgur and Noshki. Urging peace, he said it was time for the government, establishment, and militants living in remote regions of Balochistan to “rectify their mistakes” and work together for the province’s development.
Explaining that he had reflected on his past actions while in detention, he stressed that he had realized that the rights of Baloch could only be achieved through constitutional and legal means. Noting he had met with Baloch elders during his captivity, he regretted that the Baloch insurgency had been started without understanding the state.
“Stop wasting your time fighting. Play your peaceful role in the province’s development,” he urged militants. “Some inimical forces have been using the disgruntled elements as a pressure group, causing harm to the Baloch people and resultantly Balochistan has become a victim of degradation and backwardness,” he lamented.
Baloch was arrested by security forces in a high-profile intelligence operation a few months ago—with authorities confirming his arrest earlier this year, though reports of the detention had been in circulation since last year. According to authorities, he founded the BNA after merging the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) with the United Baloch Army (UBA). He reportedly became a militant in 2009, joining the BRA, of which he was a deputy, before taking leadership of the BNA.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a Twitter post, hailed the arrest of Baloch, saying it would help Pakistan and Balochistan achieve peace and prosperity. “Congratulations to Pakistan for nabbing one of the most high-profile militant leaders, the founder and head of BNA Gulzar Imam Shambay. My appreciation to the security forces for their untiring efforts to restore peace,” he said, adding that the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) deserved the nation’s highest commendation for the “first of its kind and the most complex” intelligence operations that led to Baloch’s capture.