November 20, 2017

Balochistan: One Province, Five Actors, Multiple Issues

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The contemporary problem within Balochistan has to be viewed outside tribal insurgency and the Sardars. One could count five actors; some of them are old and others are recent. Some are losing ground, and others are gaining. Some are bulldozed by the State; others, being silently supported.

✔*The first actor – the Sardars*, are the oldest and is fast fading within Balochistan. Known for their leadership during the British period and immediately after the partition, the new generation was certainly looking at the Sardar as a political actor. No more. The middle-class Baloch are expanding; as there are more Baloch ventures outside the province, *one should expect a further decline in Sardar’s hold over the society.*

✔*Second actor – the Baloch militant* – is also facing a tough environment. The Establishment has successfully flattened the militant movement with its heavy use of force, with or no care for human rights. The State is using violence against the Baloch militants as a primary strategy. _Given the domestic and external support, or the lack of it, Baloch militancy has little future._

✔The third actor – is the new one within Balochistan – the sectarian militants, with their base in Punjab*. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its affiliates have been making inroads within Balochistan that is lesser known for sectarian violence. Now, Quetta has become a sectarian ground, especially for the militants to go after the Hazara community. Since 2012, one could trace an increase in attacks against the Hazaras in Balochistan. And also on the Shia pilgrims on their way to or from Iran. The perpetrators are not locals.

✔*The fourth actor is the Taliban* – both the Afghan and Pakistani. Since the days of Mullah Omar, the Afghan Taliban has shifted it headquarters to Quetta – thereby the name – the Quetta Shura. While the Quetta Shura has been concentrating more on Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban has been expanding its activities into Balochistan as well. Some of the recent attacks on the State include high profile suicide attacks on police officers and the para-militaries.

*✔Finally*, the latest entrant – the ISIS. Though the ISIS is not as powerful as the other actors, it is trying to establish a base.  It has claimed few recent attacks in Balochistan, including the suicide bombing of Sufi shrine in the province

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