In a press conference, Gulzar Imam Shambay, the founder and head of the banned Baloch National Army (BNA), made a plea for mercy and urged his followers to surrender to the state during a press conference. The Balochistan Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs, Ziaullah Langu, presented Shambay to the media and provided a brief account of how security agencies apprehended him. The arrest of Shambay, a high-profile militant leader, resulted from a complex intelligence operation involving multiple locations. He called upon the disenchanted Baloch people to abandon their armed rebellion and join the national mainstream, working towards the development and prosperity of Balochistan and the country as a whole.
According to security force sources, Shambay was born in Paroom, District Panjgur, in 1978. He worked as a contractor and a correspondent for a local newspaper before joining a terrorist group in 2009. He served as the deputy to Brahamdagh Bugti in the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) until 2018. After the formation of the Baloch Raj Aajoi Sangar (BRAS), he established his own militant outfit, the Baloch National Army (BNA). Shambay, as an ideologue and operational head, played a significant role in orchestrating militant activities in Balochistan, particularly in the southern region. He also maintained contact with hostile intelligence agencies, advocating for the so-called independence of the province. In December 2017, he visited India using fake documents.
Shambay expressed his refusal to be a pawn for hostile agencies, emphasizing that the state, like a caring mother, would offer him and other militants a chance to reform and become responsible citizens instead of continuing their so-called fight for rights. Admitting his involvement in militancy for the past 15 years, Shambay acknowledged that he had wrongly believed that it was a means of protecting the Baloch people. However, he now recognized that taking up arms was a grave mistake and that the goals could only be achieved through constitutional and political means. He regretted that the armed rebellion had exacerbated the problems faced by the people of Balochistan, leading to their further degradation and backwardness.
Shambay acknowledged the existence of inimical forces that exploited disenchanted elements as a pressure group, causing harm to the Baloch people. He stated that those engaged in anti-state activities received support from hostile agencies, highlighting the geographical importance of Balochistan which made it a target for such activities.
Shambay rose to prominence within BRAS due to his connections with hostile agencies and served as its operational head before his arrest. The operation to apprehend this high-profile militant leader spanned several months but culminated in a professional and calculated manner within 12 hours. Intelligence agencies initially gathered leads about the hierarchy and leadership of militant groups through ongoing investigations and the placement of informants within various organizations. The leads were then verified and cross-checked using advanced digital technologies and software, enabling access to secure networks used by hostile actors. Trained intelligence operators were deployed in different locations to authenticate the digital information. After positive confirmation of Shambay’s identity, undercover agents posing as members of hostile intelligence agencies gradually gained his trust by offering financial and technical assistance.
Given the diverse geographical challenges, this complex intelligence operation involved the creation of fictitious characters, the preparation of supporting documents, and the secure transfer of funds through unidentifiable means. These measures ultimately facilitated engagement with and the strengthening of ties with Shambay. The sources further emphasized that Shambay’s arrest signifies the state’s and intelligence agencies’ awareness of the challenges posed by the militant landscape and their ability to effectively respond to them, with the ISI playing a crucial role.
Moreover, the state and the security forces had been criticized for their negligence towards the Baloch people, which was actually to counter these terrorist forces. Policy analysts had been suggesting that government should adopt a conciliatory approach to resolve the Balochistan problem. When Shambay apologized and laid down his arms, the state has shown that it can act like a mother, forgiving the rebel child and giving him a chance to be responsible again. It shows that this is not the government but these terrorist forces that are hurting Baloch’s interests, being used in the hands of foreign proxies. The future of Balochistan would come through peaceful reconciliations. The state is expanding its arms for the sake of Baloch’s good. It’s time for the Baloch people to raise and support the state and show these terrorist groups to drop their arms and better act responsibly for the development of Balochistan.