Map of Pakistan, with the province of Balochistan in red.
Baloch Terrorist groups
|Commanders and leaders|
Liaquat Ali Khan
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Karim Khan (POW)
Muhammad Dhahir Baluch
|Casualties and losses|
Pakistani security forces
154 killed (security forces and civilians)
~6,000 civilians killed in Pakistan (1973–1977)
1,628+ civilians killed in Pakistan (2004–2009)
The Balochistan conflict is an ongoing conflict between Baloch nationalists and the governments of Pakistan and Iran in the Balochistan region of South Asia, which includes Balochistan Province in southwestern Pakistan, Sistan and Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran, and the Balochistan region of southern Afghanistan.
Balochi demands include greater autonomy, increased royalties from natural resources and provincial revenue, and in some cases full independence. There have been many claims of human rights abuses. Recently, militants have clashed with the military operation in the region in 1973. Assisted by Iran, Pakistani forces inflicted heavy casualties on the separatists. The insurgency fell into decline after a return to the four-province structure and the abolishment of the Sardari system. In the 2000s, however, the insurgency gained strength in conjunction with the deteriorating law and order situation in neighboring afghanistan and instability at the Federal level.
Although it has vast natural resources, Balochistan is one of Pakistan’s poorest regions. Baloch separatists allege that the central government of Pakistan is systematically suppressing development in Balochistan in order to keep the Balochs weak, whilst their opponents argue that international business interests have been unwilling to invest in the region due to the continuing unrest.
- Area of dispute 1
- Class division 2
- Background 3.1
- First conflict 1948 3.2
- Second conflict 1958–59 3.3
- Third conflict 1963–69 3.4
- Fourth conflict 1973–77 3.5
Fifth conflict 2004–to date 3.6
- Attacks by Jundallah in Iran 3.6.1
Foreign support 4
- Afghanistan 4.1
- India 4.2
- Iraq 4.3
- Dissociation of Baloch Society of North America 4.4.1
- Baloch Council of North America 4.4.2
Human rights 5
- Sunni Extremism & Religious Persecution of Zikris 5.1
Development issues 6
- Multiculturalism and immigration 6.1
- Economic effects and shortage of skilled workers and goods 6.2
- MPA personal development budget 6.3
- Gadani Energy Corridor 6.4
- Farm subsidy 6.5
Education issue 7
- Army Education City at Sui 7.1
Supreme Court investigation 8
- Missing people found 8.1
- Supreme Court orders 8.2
- See also 9
- References 10
- External links 11
Area of dispute
Historical Balochistan covers the southern part of Sistan o Baluchestan Province, Iran, in the west, the Pakistani province of Balochistan in the east, and, in the northwest, Afghanistan's Helmand Province. The Gulf of Oman forms its southern border. Mountains and desert make up much of the region's terrain. Most Balochis live in Pakistan.
Although Balochistan Province is the largest region of Pakistan (44% of the country's total area), it is also the least inhabited (5% of total population), and the least developed. Sunni Islam is the predominant religion.
Stuart Notholt, in his Atlas of Ethnic Conflict, describes the unrest in Balochistan as a "nationalist/self-determination conflict".
A report published in Dawn, Pakistan's leading English-language news publication, highlighted the economic dimensions to the conflict. Noting that while Balochistan was considered a "neglected province where a majority of population lacks amenities", its ruling elite enjoyed glamorous lifestyles that provided a different perspective. The report observed that members of Balochistan's elite society, including provincial government ministers and officials, owned "pieces of land greater in size than some small towns of the country", and had luxury vehicles, properties, investments and businesses valued at millions of rupees.
First conflict 1948
Second conflict 1958–59
Nawab Nowroz Khan took up arms in resistance to the One Unit policy, which decreased government representation for tribal leaders. He and his followers started a guerrilla war against Pakistan, and were arrested, charged with treason, and imprisoned in Hyderabad. Five of his family members (sons and nephews) were subsequently hanged under charges of treason and aiding in the murder of Pakistani troops. Nawab Nowroz Khan later died in captivity.
Third conflict 1963–69
After the second conflict, the federal government tasked the Pakistan Army with building several new bases in key areas of Balochistan. Sher Muhammad Bijrani Marri led like-minded militants into guerrilla warfare by creating their own insurgent bases, spread out over 45,000 miles (72,000 km) of land, from the Mengal tribal area in the south to the Marri and Bugti tribal areas in the north. Their goal was to force Pakistan to share revenue generated from the Sui gas fields with the tribal leaders. The insurgents bombed railway tracks and ambushed convoys. The Army retaliated by destroying vast areas of the Marri tribe's land. This insurgency ended in 1969, with the Baloch separatists agreeing to a ceasefire. In 1970 Pakistani President Yahya Khan abolished the "One Unit" policy, which led to the recognition of Balochistan as the fourth province of West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan), including all the Balochistani princely states, the High Commissioners Province, and Gwadar, an 800 km2 coastal area purchased from Oman by the Pakistani government.
Fourth conflict 1973–77
In 1973, citing treason, President Bhutto dismissed the provincial governments of Balochistan and NWFP and imposed martial law in those areas, which led to armed insurgency. Khair Bakhsh Marri formed the Balochistan People’s Liberation Front (BPLF), which led large numbers of Marri and Mengal tribesmen into guerrilla warfare against the central government. According to some authors, the Pakistani military lost 300 to 400 soldiers during the conflict with the Balochi separatists, while between 7,300 and 9,000 Balochi militants and civilians were killed.
Fifth conflict 2004–to date
In 2005, the Baluch political leaders Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri presented a 15-point agenda to the Pakistan government. Their stated demands included greater control of the province's resources and a moratorium on the construction of military bases. On 15 December 2005 the inspector general of the Frontier Corps, Major General Shujaat Zamir Dar, and his deputy Brigadier Salim Nawaz (the current IGFC) were wounded after shots were fired at their helicopter in Balochistan Province. The provincial interior secretary later said that "both of them were wounded in the leg but both are in stable condition." The two men had been visiting Kohlu, about 220 km (140 mi) southeast of Quetta, when their aircraft came under fire. The helicopter landed safely.
In August 2006, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79 years old, was killed in fighting with the Pakistan Army, in which at least 60 Pakistani soldiers and 7 officers were also killed. Pakistan's government had charged him with responsibility of a series of deadly bomb blasts and a rocket attack on President Pervez Musharraf.
In April 2009, Baloch National Movement president Ghulam Mohammed Baloch and two other nationalist leaders (Lala Munir and Sher Muhammad) were seized from a small legal office and were allegedly "handcuffed, blindfolded and hustled into a waiting pickup truck which is in still [sic] use of intelligence forces in front of their lawyer and neighboring shopkeepers." The gunmen were allegedly speaking in Persian (a national language of neighbouring Afghanistan and Iran). Five days later, on 8 April, their bullet-riddled bodies were found in a commercial area. The BLA claimed Pakistani forces were behind the killings, though international experts have deemed it odd that the Pakistani forces would be careless enough to allow the bodies to be found so easily and "light Balochistan on fire" (Herald) if they were truly responsible. The discovery of the bodies sparked rioting and weeks of strikes, demonstrations, and civil resistance in cities and towns around Balochistan. (See Turbat killings).
On 12 August 2009, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood declared himself ruler of Balochistan and formally announced a Council for Independent Balochistan. The council's claimed domain includes Sistan and Baluchestan Province, as well as Pakistani Balochistan, but does not include Afghan Baloch regions. The council claimed the allegiance of "all separatist leaders including Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti." Suleiman Dawood stated that the UK had "a moral responsibility to raise the issue of Balochistan’s illegal occupation at international level."The Economist writes:
"[The Baloch separatists] are supported—with money, influence or sympathy—by some members of the powerful Bugti tribe and by parts of the Baloch middle class. This makes today’s insurgency stronger than previous ones, but the separatists will nevertheless struggle to prevail over Pakistan’s huge army."—The Economist, April2012
Attacks by Jundallah in Iran
In the early 2000s the radical Islamist group Jundallah became active in Balochistan. The al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization has branches in both Iran and Pakistan. It carried out a wave of attacks in Iran in the late 2000s, including:
- 2007 Zahedan bombings: 18 people were killed.
- 2009 Zahedan bombing: 20 people were killed.
- 2009 Pishin bombing: 43 people were killed.
- July 2010 Zahedan bombings: 27 people were killed.
- 2010 Chabahar suicide bombing: 38 people were killed.
Among the deaths in the Pishin bombings were two Iranian Revolutionary Guards generals: Noor Ali Shooshtari, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards' ground forces, and Rajab Ali Mhammadzadeh, the Revolutionary Guards' Sistan and Baluchistan provincial commander.
From 2006 to 2010, 254-346 people were killed in Jundullah-related violence in Iran.
Pakistan has repeatedly accused India, and occasionally the U.S., of supporting Baluch rebels. Both countries have denied the charge. Iran has accused America of supporting Jundallah "for years"; the US government, which officially recognizes Jundallah as a terrorist organization, has denied this charge also.
According to Robert Wirsing, Pakistan supported Islamist extremists, particularly Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his Hezb-e Islami, in their insurgency against the Afghan government of Mohammed Daoud Khan beginning in the early 1970s. R. T. Naylor states that Islamabad supported these groups in reaction to efforts by Daoud Khan to arm Pashtun rebels in Pakistan. Daoud also established militant training camps in Afghanistan for Baloch rebels. These were the first modern training camps in the country.The former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, wrote that in the 1970s training camps were set up in Afghanistan by Daoud to support Baloch separatists in Pakistan. According to a student paper, "Pakistan’s fear that a communist Afghanistan would embolden the Baloch and Pashtun Marxist separatists in the western Pakistani province of Balochistan was confirmed when Daoud began supporting Marxist Baloch and Pashtun groups in eastern Afghanistan".
|“||As president, Daoud started antagonising Pakistan [...] He set up a training camp outside Kandahar for Baluch rebels to foment trouble across the border in Pakistan...||”|
—Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011), p.103
Daoud Khan was removed from power in Afghanistan in 1978 by a communist coup.
In 2012, Pakistani interior minister  Baloch leaders such as Bugti left Afghanistan for Switzerland.
Against the backdrop of heavy criticism of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps over its alleged role in forced disappearances and human rights violations in Balochistan, the chief of FC troops in Balochistan, Major General Obaidullah Khan Khattak, said in June 2012 that "over 30 militant camps" had been established in Afghanistan and were being used "to launch terrorist and anti-state activities in Balochistan".
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency has been accused of working with the Afghan Taliban in Balochistan, with the Taliban's leadership council, Quetta Shura, named after the provincial capital Quetta. Some observers hope that the anti-Taliban Baloch separatists could act against the spread of Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces which are operating in Pakistani Balochistan and crossing into Afghanistan.
Brahamdagh Bugti stated in a 2008 interview that he would accept aid from India, Afghanistan, and Iran in defending Baluchistan. Pakistan has repeatedly accused India, and at times the U.S., of supporting Baluch rebels, but has failed to present clear evidence of a link. Wright-Neville writes that besides Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). In August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said Pakistan's fears over India's role in Afghanistan are “not groundless. Defence Secretary and former Senator Chuck Hagel said "India for some time has [...] used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border". However, former Af-Pak envoy Richard Holbrooke said in 2011 that while Pakistan had repeatedly shared its allegations with Washington, it had failed to provide any evidence to the United States that India was involved in separatist movements in Balochistan. He did not consider Pakistan's accusations against India credible. Holbrooke also strongly rejected the allegation that India was using its consulates in Afghanistan to facilitate Baloch rebel activity, saying he had "no reason to believe Islamabad's charges", and that "Pakistan would do well to examine its own internal problems". India has categorically denied the allegations, pointing to Pakistan's failure to provide evidence.
Wikileaks cables strongly suggest that British intelligence officials are convinced of India's covert support for insurgents in Baluchistan, and were concerned that this support would increase in response to alleged Pakistani support for Lashkar-e-Taiba, following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
On 10 February 1973, Pakistani police and paramilitary raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad, seizing a large cache of small arms, ammunition, grenades and other supplies, which were found in crates marked 'Foreign Ministry, Baghdad'. The ammunition and weaponry was believed to be destined for Baloch rebels. Pakistan responded by expelling and declaring persona non grata the Iraqi Ambassador Hikmat Sulaiman and other consular staff. In a letter to President Nixon on February 14, Bhutto blamed India and Afghanistan, along with Iraq and the Soviet Union, for involvement in a “conspiracy … [with] subversive and irredentist elements which seek to disrupt Pakistan’s integrity”
Syed F. Hasnat alleges that Russia, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), helped establish the Balochistan Liberation Army; David Wright-Neville, however, writes that the Balochistan Liberation Army wasn't established until 2000.
In February 2010 a Jundullah leader captured by Iran, Abdulmalek Rigi, alleged on Iranian TV "that the US had promised to provide" Jundullah "with military equipment and a base in Afghanistan, near the Iranian border" for its fight against Iran. Rigi did not mention assistance in fighting Pakistan (which Iran accuses of backing the Jundullah, according to the BBC). The US has denied links with Jundullah, and according to the BBC, "it is not possible" to determine whether Abdolmalek Rigi "made the statement freely or under duress."
In late 2011, the Balochistan conflict became the focus of dialogue on a new U.S. South Asia strategy brought up by some U.S. congressmen, who said they were frustrated over Pakistan's alleged continued support to the Afghan Taliban, which they said led to the continuation of the War in Afghanistan (2001-present). Although this alternative to the Obama Administration's Af-Pak policy has generated some interest, "its advocates clearly do not yet have broad support".
In the 1980s the CIA, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, Pakistani Sunni extremist group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, and the Mujahedin e-Kalq supported a Baluchi tribal uprising against Iran. A February 2011 article by Selig S. Harrison of the Center for International Policy called for supporting "anti-Islamist forces" along the southern Arabian Sea coast, including "Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan", as a means of weakening the “rising tide of anti-American passion” in Pakistan and heading off any alliance between Islamabad and Beijing — Pakistan having granted China access to a naval base at Gwadar.
Dissociation of Baloch Society of North America
The Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA) was a Baloch lobbying group founded in 2004 in Washington D.C. by Dr. Wahid Baloch, a graduate of Bolan Medical College who had gone into self-imposed exile in the United States in 1992. Between 2004 and 2014, his group had been trying to gain American (as well as Israeli) support for the independence of Balochistan. He held meetings with several American Congressmen and allegedly had meetings with several CIA officials. Dr. Baloch had long claimed that the Pakistani state was committing acts of genocide against the Baloch people, and that Islamabad's aim was to plunder the province's vast mineral resources. In January 2014 he released a letter appealing to the United States and Israel for direct assistance in preventing an alleged "killing spree of Baloch people" by the "Pakistani army".
In May 2014, Dr. Baloch surprisingly decided to disband the BSO-NA, claiming that the War of Independence of Balochistan was actually a "war of independence of Khans, Nawabs and Sardars". He has since formed the Baloch Council of North America (BCN), which has dedicated itself to working with all democratic and nationalist forces in Pakistan to secure Baloch rights through democratic, nonviolent means, within the federation of Pakistan.
Baloch Council of North America
Formerly the BSO-NA, the Baloch Council of North America (BCN), led by Dr. Wahid Baloch, is a Baloch human rights group which aims to secure the rights of the Baloch people within a united Pakistan federation. Dr. Baloch has vowed that the BCN will work "within the Pakistani federation with the elected Balohcistan provincial government and pro-federation democratic, secular and nationalist forces of Pakistan to fight for and ensure the rights of Baloch people within the federation".
In the period 2003 to 2012, it is estimated that 8000 people were abducted by Pakistani security forces in Balochistan. In 2008 alone, an estimated 1102 Baloch people disappeared. There have also been reports of torture. An increasing number of bodies "with burn marks, broken limbs, nails pulled out, and sometimes with holes drilled in their heads" are being found on roadsides as the result of a "kill and dump" campaign conducted by Pakistani security forces, particularly Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Frontier Corps (FC) — which, until the 9/11/01 World Trade Center attacks, had sided with the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. In July 2011, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report on illegal disappearances in Balochistan and identified ISI and Frontier Corps as the perpetrators. The Pakistan Rangers are also alleged to have committed a vast number of human rights violations in the region. No one has been held responsible for the crimes.
About 800 non-Baloch settlers (mostly Punjabis) and anti-BLA Balochis have been killed by Baloch militant groups since 2006.
Sunni Extremism & Religious Persecution of Zikris
According to the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Pakistani Taliban, have produced a surge in religious extremism in Balochistan. Hindus, Shias (including Hazaras) and Zikris have been targeted, resulting in the migration of over 300,000 of them from Baluchistan.
The government of Pakistan has repeatedly stated its intention to bring industrialisation to Balochistan, and continues to claim that progress has been made by way of the "Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan" package of political and economic reforms issued in 2009. This is challenged by Baloch nationalist groups, who argue the benefits of these policies have not accrued to native Baloch residents of the province. Baloch nationalist groups continue to highlight the extraction of natural resources, especially natural gas, from the province, without discernible economic benefit to the Baloch people. Nonetheless, the government of Pakistan continues to insist that industrial zones are planned along the new Gawadar-Karachi highway. According to the government, this development is envisaged to bring accelerated progress in the future for the Baloch.
In February 2006 three Chinese engineers assisting in the construction of a local cement factory were shot and killed in an attack on their automobile, while another 11 injured in a car bomb attack by BLA. China called back her engineers working on the project in Balochistan. The progress in the hydro-power sector has been slow since then.
The people of the region have largely maintained a nomadic lifestyle marked by poverty and illiteracy. The indigenous people are continuously threatened by war and other means of oppression, which have resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives over many years. Presently, according to Amnesty International, Baluch activists, politicians and student leaders are among those that are being targeted in forced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests and cases of torture and other ill-treatment.
Balochistan Province receives Rs32.71 per unit on gas revenues, including a royalty of Rs13.90, excise duty of Rs5.09, and gas development surcharge of Rs13.72. Many private individuals with gas deposits on their land also receive payments. Many Balochs argue that such royalties are too low. In response, in 2011 Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani announced an addition of Rs. 120 billion (US$2.5 billion) to the gas development surcharge and royalty portion of the "Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan" package. However, royalties often do not trickle down to the common people in Balochistan due to the corruption and wealth-hoarding of Baloch tribal chiefs. This has hindered the growth of infrastructure.
Multiculturalism and immigration
Skill is imported from other regions, due to the historical shortage of skilled workers in the sparsely populated and inaccessible terrain. The arrival of skilled workers means new industries can develop and boost the local economy; nationalists argue that this creates resentment amongst the local inhabitants. Like Karachi, which after migration from Balouchistan, Central Asia, Iran, East Asia and especially a large number of people arriving from other areas of Pakistan in search of daily living settled there, it has been a national financial hub in Pakistan. thus the local inhabitants (Sindhis) became a minority in the largest city of their province. Nationalists argue against multiculturalism and non-Baloch immigration. Karachi city has been playing a key role as a financial hub for Pakistan and its economy has exploded to become on the major cities in Asia as a 
Economic effects and shortage of skilled workers and goods
The chief minister of the province has said
"A large number of professors, teachers, engineers, barbers and masons are leaving the province for fear of attacks, This inhuman act will push the Baloch nation at least one century back. The Baloch nation will never forgive whoever is involved in target killings... He said the government has approved three university campuses, three medical colleges and hospitals for Turbat, Mastung, Naseerabad and Loralai districts but there was shortage of teachers in the area".Rice traders from Punjab have also been killed in target killing, this has resulting in higher prices of foods items in Balochistan. Almost 40 people of non-Balochi ethnic groups were killed in 2009.
MPA personal development budget
Balochistan’s annual development programme for 2010–11 was Rs27bn as compared to Rs13bn in 2007–08. This allowed each Member of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan to have a personal development budget for his or her consistency of Rs 180 million which will be increased to Rs 250 million in 2011–2012. However, critics argue development funding is not a substitute for deep political issues, and MPA have no incentive to find a political solution with the insurgents as they believe as long as the insurgency continues they will get more funds. There have also been allegations that MPAs are exploiting the PSDP programme to get kickbacks and engage in corruption.
Gadani Energy Corridor
Four coal-fired power plants will be built Gadani, creating a power corridor in Balochistan based on Houston Energy Corridor. This was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during to the region, the project will be called Gadani Power Park and it is expected to generate 5200 MW. Some nationalist groups objected to the project, saying they had not been consulted and instead favoured expanding access to electricity in the province rather than increasing capacity. However, Nawaz Sharif's PMLN party is the largest party in the Provincial Assembly.
The Federal government announced it would transfer Rs4 billion subsidy to Provincial Government to be passed onto farmers in Balochistan to promote for tube-wells. The Provincial Government announced it would spend further Rs 3 billion to support the Federal Programme. However, high levels of corruption amongst civil servants and senior ministers may mean the common man only gets partial benefit.
Education is a major factor in the Balouchistan conflict, which nationalist feeling as sense of being neglected. The government of Pakistan recognises that importing skilled labour from other regions causing tensions in the region, so it has sought to encourage scholarships for Balochistan students so they can go home and lead development programmes. The quota for Baloch students in Punjab university was doubled in 2010 under the Cheema Long Scheme on the order of CM Shabaz Sharif. The provincial governments of Sindh, Punjab and KP said they would take steps to encourage Balochistan students to enroll and benefits from 100% scholarships. However, nationalists argue that not enough education development is taking place, and the government has neglected its duty.
Army Education City at Sui
The Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in January 2011 announced the establishment of Education City in Sui. The military said it had built colleges in Balouchistan to promote education levels such as Balochistan Institute of Technical Education (BITE) and the Gwadar Institute of Technical Education (GITE), approximately 1,673 individuals had graduated from the technical colleges. Historically, the military administrated institutions are less corrupted than civilian managed ones. Presently, around 22,786 Baloch students are studying in military-run educational institutions.
Supreme Court investigation
There are more than 5,000 cases of ‘forced disappearances’ in Balochistan. Many are innocent and stuck in Pakistan's slow court system whilst other are in prison awaiting charges on a range of things such as gun smuggling and robbery. The chief justice of an apex court of Pakistan asked about the situation and said it was going out of control in Balochistan. The Supreme Court is currently investigating the "missing persons" and issued an arrest warrant for the former Military Dictator Pervez Musharaff. Furthermore, the Chief Justice of the court said the military must act under the government's direction and follow well-defined parameters set by the Constitution.
Missing people found
In June 2011, the prime minister was informed that 41 missing people had returned to their homes, false cases against 38 had been withdrawn and several others had been traced. The PM urged police to trace the missing people and help them to return to their homes.
Supreme Court orders
The Supreme Court apex court headed by Justice Iqbal decided ordered the government to the grant of subsistence allowance to the affected families. Justice Iqbal advised families not to lose hope. He said the issue of missing persons had become a chronic problem and, therefore, the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, constituted on the orders of the apex court, should be made permanent.
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the ISI wants us to kill everyone—policemen, soldiers, engineers, teachers, civilians—just to intimidate people
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- Baloch Society of North America
- Unrest simmers in Pakistan province
- Turbat killings
- Interview of Balochistan National Party's Sanaullah Baloch
- The real Balochistan by Sana Baloch
- Balochistan in focus by Rahimullah Yusufzai