Region of Concern: Pakistan
Written By Gabriela Peregrino; Edited by Cameron Munoz and Jennifer Loy
Date: April 7, 2023
Event: On April 7, Pakistan's top intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), arrested Gulzar Imam, aka Shambay, founder and leader of the banned insurgent group Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA). It was formed after the merger of insurgent groups The Baloch Republican Army and the United Baloch Army. BNA has reportedly been involved in dozens of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including those targeting security forces. The military’s media wing stated it has a record of Imam’s visits to India and Afghanistan, and his suspected links with hostile intelligence agencies are being investigated. Balochistan Province at the Afghanistan-Iran border has been experiencing low-level insurgency by Baloch nationalists for over two decades.
Significance: It is unlikely BNA will organize a counterattack as they will likely be preoccupied with restructuring their hierarchy and strategizing against security weaknesses within their organization. The capture of the BNA leader threatens the exposure of their operations such as hideouts and financing, likely resulting in their temporary decommissioning to revise their infrastructure. BNA will likely merge with similar insurgent groups such as the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which share similar objectives. The re-emergence of these two allied groups will likely aim to overtake the Balochistan Province providing accessibility to regional resources and Pakistan’s shared borders with Iran and Afghanistan. This will likely result in an increased insurgency in Pakistan and Iran as BLA currently operates across the border. A rise in Pakistan’s internal conflict will very likely deepen domestic polarization further weakening their governance. A fractured government coupled with rising terrorism will likely expand the country's current debt placing them closer to the verge of economic crisis.
Recommendations: ISI should collaborate with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security to gather and exchange data concerning insurgent nationalist groups of each country. Online activities of insurgent groups should be monitored closely for the spread of terrorist content, communication, financing, and anticipated attacks. Due to Pakistan’s poor relations with India and Afghanistan, Pakistan should consult the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) to mediate peace talks to gather information about Imam’s visit to each country to establish diplomatic counterterror measures. The General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army and subsequent military installations should heighten security measures in preparation for targeted attacks. Pakistan government buildings such as the High Court Building, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and Parliament should strengthen security details and checkpoints in anticipation of growing insurgency. Pakistan's local police forces should warn citizens of anticipated insurgent uprisings to decrease the likelihood of casualties and improve police-community relations.
 Pakistan’s army says it has arrested Baluch insurgency chief, AP News, April 2023, https://apnews.com/article/pakistan-baluch-nationalists-gulzar-imam-shambay-intelligence-5765396c9b864739f5ded25a2de15ec1?utm_source=ground.news&utm_medium=referral