As many as a dozen unarmed civilians have been killed by two thieves-turned-freedom fighters of a militant outfit called Baloch Republican Army (BRA), whose leadership is now based in Switzerland, local sources in Balochistan told this correspondent Monday.
It is an open secret in Balochistan that the BRA is led by Switzerland-based Brahumdagh Bugti, 33. The operations are being directed by Bugti, his right-hand man Sher Mohammed Bugti and a handful of their comrades from Switzerland, Baloch sources in Europe told this correspondent.
The two BRA commanders have been identified as Abdul Malik alias Daki, son of Mohammed Anwar and Mohammed Ayub, son of Faqir Mohammed. Both are natives of Buleda and are in their early twenties.
According to well-informed sources in Buleda, the duo acting as a team were once thieves involved in breaking in shops and homes and looting of vehicles at gunpoint.
The two commanders, who are also called sarmachars in Balochi, were arrested at least twice before they officially joined the BRA.
Sources in Buleda guesstimate that the two get sixty thousand rupees ($580) a piece per month, motorbikes and weapons from the BRA.
Pakistani intelligence sources insist that the BRA is getting money from India, with Arjan Das Bugti, a former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly, acting as a go-between. The Indian consulates in Zahidan and Kandahar facilitate the money transfers, these intelligence sources say, without providing any proof to the media.
The victims of the two BRA “commanders” operations include Chirag Buledi, 23, son of Khair Mohammed Buledi. The victim was also a nephew of Jan Buledi, spokesperson for Balochistan chief minister Dr. Malik Baloch. A second victim was Noor Ahmad, 20, son of Manzoor Buledi. He was a younger brother of former Balochistan minister Zahoor Buledi.
“The two boys were socially active,” said Mir Aslam Buledi, central deputy secretary general of the National Party, who knew the victims. “They are killing political and social workers.”
Induction of criminals is not limited to BRA, but the other competing militant groups also depend on fugitives from justice.
This correspondent asked a a native of Buleda that if the Frontier Corps, which has faced censors from the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for employing brutal tactics in Balochistan, gets hold of these two criminals and kills and dumps their bodies, would he feel sorry.
“Why should we feel sorry?” he quipped. “They are criminals.”
Jan Buledi, spokesperson for the Balochistan chief minister gets emotional when he is asked about the killing of his nephew and Zahoor Buledi's brother, who was also his close relative.
“There was absolutely no ground for the killing of Chiragh Buledi and Noor Ahmed Buledi. The only reason why these two boys were mercilessly put to death was they were our relatives and had connections with the National Party,” Buledi said Monday by phone from Quetta.
The BRA also carried out two unsuccessful bomb attacks on the life of Balochistan chief minister Dr. Malik Baloch during the last election campaign.
Jan Buledi said the BRA was recruiting criminals in Mekran to use them against political workers and decent, respectable citizens.
It could be this criminal factor that when a militant is killed, barely a few people attend their last rites. In April 2009 when Baloch political workers Sher Mohammed Baloch, Ghulam Mohammed Baloch and Lala Munir Baloch were abducted by the Pakistani intelligence services and killed and dumped, entire Balochistan came to a grinding halt.
There was Balochistan-wide support for Brahumdagh Bugti when his grandfather Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79, was killed on the orders of Pakistan military dictator and coup leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf in fall 2006.
Likewise, many Baloch sympathized with him when his sister and niece were killed under mysterious circumstances in February last year.
However, sources in Balochistan say that support for Bugti is now turning into anger against him because of the wrong tactics of the BRA. The Swiss authorities are also said to be wary of the BRA operations as Swiss laws prohibit asylum for anyone who incites violence.
London-based Balochistan notable Abdul Haleem Tareen, whose grandfather had played a role in getting a reprieve for late Nawab Bugti after his arrest in a murder case, has been in touch with Brahumdagh Bugti, in an effort to convince him to take a different track through negotiations with the government.
"Brahumdagh Bugti may get under the cloud if someone pursues the case," Tareen said.
Last week Mehran Baluch, Bugti’s brother-in-law, who has been involved in Baloch advocacy at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels, told this correspondent that he never discusses the BRA terrorism with him. “Every adult knows the consequences of his own actions,” Mr. Baluch quipped, while denouncing terrorism.
However, Brahumdagh Bugti in one interview publicly disassociated himself from the BRA and said he only heads the political arm, Balochistan Republican Party. Balochistan observers say this was a new trend in tribal Balochistan as in the past Baloch chieftains and their close family members were never afraid of publicly owning their actions.
At least 14 different militant outfits are operating in Balochistan, including half a dozen that claim they are working for freedom.