Khalil Baloch is chairman of the Baloch National Movement, one of the biggest Baloch nationalist political organisations. In this interview with Manish Rai, conducted over email and telephone from Quetta, he discusses the current status of the Baloch freedom struggle and the role of the Imran Khan government:

Recently there has been an increase in attacks carried out by Baloch armed groups. Why?

The recent escalation in militant attacks is a direct reaction to the Pakistan army’s growing atrocities in Balochistan and China’s relentless plunder of Baloch resources. The world is vocal in their criticism of the resistance of the helpless Baloch, but they are totally oblivious of China’s economic plunder and Pakistan’s military aggression on Baloch land.

How you see the future of the Baloch struggle?

The future of the Baloch struggle first depends on our own determination and strategy, and then on the direction of regional and global politics.

Our determination is manifested in our decades-long struggle without any outside help. During the last 20 years, thousands of our men and women and children have been forcibly disappeared, tortured and killed by the army. Our homes and villages have been set on fire.

Yet we have not abandoned our struggle. And I see a bright future for it when I see our youth’s determination and willpower.

However, the regional and global powers should now break their silence and extend a helping hand towards the Baloch. Even some sort of moral support would be a great boost to our cause.

If they remain as oblivious as they are now, China with the help of Pakistan will plunge the entire region into great darkness.

Pakistani authorities regularly accuse the Baloch nationalist movement of working on behalf of foreign intelligence agencies. How you respond to that?

As I said earlier, we wish we had some sort of help form the international community. As far as Pakistan’s allegations are concerned, our freedom fighter is always a terrorist for them.

What is your opinion of Baloch armed groups waging an insurgency campaign against Pakistan security forces?

The Baloch nation launched guerrilla warfare just after Pakistan’s forcible occupation of Balochistan in 1948. Since then the Baloch nation has been resisting against this forced accession. This insurgency is the continuation of that.

It has many factors. First, Balochistan is rich in natural resources, in spite of which the Baloch people are living in the Stone Age deprived of every facility of life.

The second most important thing about Baloch as a nation is it has its own language, culture, geography and identity.

Pakistan is trying to crush the secular values of the Baloch people and perpetrating genocide upon the Baloch. Now it’s a matter of Baloch identity, which is why the Baloch are conducting guerrilla warfare for survival.

They are doing nothing illegal or wrong.

Are you still ready to negotiate greater autonomy for Baluchistan rather than full-fledged independence?

No, we are not going to negotiate for autonomy. Pakistan’s word or constitution is no guarantee for us. The autonomy which Pakistan claims the Baloch currently have, according to Pakistan’s constitution, is nowhere to be seen in practice.

We just want to be left alone in our own homeland.

Do you have hopes that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government will put in some sincere efforts to resolve the Baluchistan issue?

Imran Khan has proved to be the ultimate failure even for mainstream Pakistan. His jingoism has compounded Pakistan’s own worries, so how can we expect from him to help resolve the Baloch grievances?

He is a military puppet, and everyone other than his party members call him that.

How is your party the Baluchistan National Movement approaching the common people of Baluchistan, given that it's based overseas?

The BNM is not based overseas. It’s still well rooted in Balochistan. It’s still in touch with the Baloch people. However, we have shifted some of our media relations and diplomacy works overseas due to censorship and state persecution inside Balochistan.

Manish Rai is editor of Viewsaround.