More than 100 Baluch militants surrender in Pakistan

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers take position in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, on June 15, 2013 (AFP Photo/Banaras Khan)

Over a hundred Baluch militants fighting against Pakistani forces in the separatist-insurgency wracked southwestern Baluchistan province have surrendered and pledged their allegiance to the country, officials said on Sunday. A group of 59 militants including two key commanders appeared before the media, along with senior politicians and government officials from the province, to announce they would end militant activities and become a "useful part" of society. They followed a group of 47 militants on Saturday. All were given amnesty by the government. "These people were in fact misled by the anti-state elements who are being funded by foreign spy agencies," said Sanaullah Zehri, senior minister in Baluchistan. "They have now pledged to lead a good life as true Pakistanis," he said. The militants who surrendered were from groups such as Baluch Republican Army (BRA), Baluch National Movement (BNM), and Lashkare-e-Baluchistan (Army of Baluchistan). "We were trapped by our leaders who said they are fighting for the rights of Baluchs, but later we realised that they were enjoying their lives abroad and had pushed us and our families to a war here," Obaidullah alias Babrak, a Lashkar-e-Baluchistan commander, told reporters. Baluch separatists demanding more autonomy and control over gas and mineral resources have frequently targeted security forces and police for years. Pakistan's largest province -- which borders Iran and Afghanistan -- is also riven by sectarian strife and Islamist violence. Its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.