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Founder of banned Baloch group arrested in ‘carefully planned’ intelligence operation: ISPR

QUETTA, APR 7: A “hardcore militant” and founder of the banned militant group Baloch National Army (BNA) was captured, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), who described the detainee as a “high-value target” with suspected links to hostile intelligence agencies operating against Pakistan.

“Gulzar Imam alias Shambay was apprehended after an innovatively conceived, carefully planned and meticulously executed operation, spanned over months over various geographical locations,” the military’s media wing said in a statement today.

The statement, however, did not disclose the exact location where the militant was apprehended.

The report of the apprehension of a wanted terrorist surfaces on the same day as a high-profile National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank, January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, as 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

According to the ISPR statement, Imam was apprehended in “a high profile and successful intelligence operation”.

The military said the captured terrorist was a hardcore militant, as well as the founder and leader of the banned BNA outfit, which was formed after the merger of the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and the United Baloch Army (UBA).

It stated that the BNA had perpetrated numerous violent terrorist attacks in the country, including targeting the installations of law enforcement agencies in Panjgur and Noshki.

“Imam also remained as deputy to Brahamdagh Bugti in the BRA till 2018.”

The military’s statement added that the apprehended militant was pivotal in creating the Baloch Raji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS) and served as its operational chief.

“His visits to Afghanistan and India are also on the record, while his linkages with hostile intelligence agencies are being investigated,” it said.

It further said the hostile agencies also tried to exploit the militant to work against the state of Pakistan and its national interests.

“The arrest of Gulzar Imam is a serious blow to the BNA as well as other militant groups, which have been attempting to destabilise the hard-earned peace in Balochistan.”

The statement said the arrest of the militant leader of such a stature demonstrated “the capability and resolve of the LEAs to uproot the menace of terrorism as well as speaks volumes about the successes garnered through supreme sacrifices of unsung heroes”.

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