Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Summer for Baloch Insurgents

So I mentioned Balochistan in the first ever post I ever wrote for this blog. There was an obvious reason. Balochistan is the shortest natural gateway to Central Asia from the sea. The Baloch though have a serious problem. There are only about fifteen million of them, and on all sides, aside from maybe immediately East, they're surrounded by seriously dangerous ethnicities. North East of the Baluch, are the Punjabi Muslims of Pakistan, numbering 85,000,000. Directly North of the Baloch, are the 40,000,000 Pathan, 25,000,000 of whom are in Pakistan, the remaining 15,000,000 in Afghanistan. And to the West, the Persians, with 35,000,000 all concentrated in Iran. South of the Baloch is the Straits of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf, and it's sharks. Just across the Gulf are the myriad micro petro emirates of the gulf where a sizable Baloch diaspora works and remits money back to their family homelands.

Living/Caught between the Punjabis, Pathans, Persians and Arabs, and living on land that has seen invasions from Alexander the Great's time onwards the Baloch have developed a well deserved reputation for toughness.

You know the Gadsden Flag? The one that says "Don't Tread on Me"? The Baloch live that. In fact they're living that right now.

The Baloch are waging two independently fighting insurgencies in two different countries, that up till this moment are not bothering to co-ordinate (as far as Pakistani and Iranian intelligence can determine and then leak to their respective presses for propaganda purposes) for their rights. Some within and without these insurgencies can call them secessionist, but their real purpose is fighting for simple rights in Iran and in Pakistan trying to control their own natural resources whilst dealing with a demographic problem in their own home provinces. There is a lot of background, but the arrest (and subsequent execution) of the purported leader of the Iranian Baloch insurgency has bought up some really quirky questions.

Like who the hell started him out?

Why does he have so little co-ordination with the Pakistani Baloch insurgents across the border in Pakistan, who are heavily active?

Is it because Pakistani Baloch pursue an avowedly secular nationalism, whereas Rigi's Baloch outfit mixed Baloch nationalism with sectarian ultra-Sunnism/anti-Shiaism?

Did his ideological brew make him attractive to various Taliban factions and even Al Qaeda, and possibly Pakistani sectarian organisatons?

Did the fact that he was opposing Tehran give him allies in the form of the United States and possibly Saudi Arabia as well?

He may be dead, but the Baloch sense of deprivation lives on in both Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan.


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