Friday, October 28, 2011

PAKISTAN: Re-reading the conflict in Balochistan

Amid ominous talk of separatism, Balochistanhas been described by human rights organizations as “an active volcano that may erupt anytime”. The description is drawn from the examination of a history of grievances harbored by the province against the central government; festering wounds that are renewed by an increasing number of missing persons whose absence is attributed to state agencies.The strong presence of the army and the ISI in the region aims to stamp out separatist forces, only to stoke Baloch nationalism. As a result, the young Baloch nationalist views his (or her) interests to be diametrically opposed to those of Pakistan as a nation and will not concede that secession is not a viable option; that an independent Baloch state cannot be sustained by untapped natural resources and underdeveloped human resources. This mindset makes the youth of the province susceptible to the kind of violent prejudice that has triggered a rise in brutal targeted attacks against non-Baloch teachers and laborers, as well as minority communities like the Shi’ite Hazaras.

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