Separatist factions in southwestern Pakistan’s restive province of Balochistan are claiming government forces have detained the family of a key separatist guerrilla commander.
Statements by the Baloch National Movement and the Baloch Students Organization (Azad) say government forces detained relatives of Allah Nazar Baloch on October 30.
The former physician, believed to be in his 40s, is the leader of the Baluch Liberation Front, a militant group claiming to be fighting for Balochistan’s secession from Pakistan.
Statements issued by the organizations and international media suggest that Allah Nazar’s wife was detained along two more women and three children near the provincial capital, Quetta.
Kachkol Ali Baloch, an exiled leader of the Baloch National Movement, said Allah Nazar’s wife was seeking treatment in Quetta.
While authorities have confirmed detaining three women, they have not revealed their identities.
Baloch separatist leaders in exile and nationalist leaders are condemning the detention.
“[I] highly condemn the abduction of Dr. Allah Nazar’s family,” Akhtar Mengal, president of the Balochistan National Party, wrote on Twitter. “No culture in the world permits disgraceful acts of targeting women and children.”
Anwarul Haq Kakar, a spokesman for the Balochistan provincial government, confirmed to BBC’s Urdu Service that authorities detained three women in Chaman, a border town some 120 kilometers west of Quetta.
He said the government will announce the identities of the women after an investigation but that they are suspected of having links with banned factions.
The Baluch Liberation Front is one of the major Baloch nationalist groups banned by Islamabad for armed insurrection. Since 2004, thousands of civilians, soldiers, and rebels have been killed and hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by unrest in Balochistan.
While supporters of the separatist factions accuse government forces of illegal abductions and executions, authorities blame the rebels for targeting government forces and pro-government politicians and attacking infrastructure.
In an interview with Reuters last year, Nazar vowed to continue attacking the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). More than $50 billion in Chinese investments in infrastructure and energy projects under the umbrella of CPEC are aimed at connecting western China to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.
"We are attacking CPEC every day because it aims to turn the Baloch population into a minority,” he told Reuters. “It is looting, plundering, and taking away our resources."
Islamabad, however, says CPEC is a game changer and will boost the Pakistani economy reeling from rising debts, a low taxation base, and a rapidly growing population.