Friday, May 25, 2012

Hidden war embodies Pakistan’s struggle

Yet the real reason Baluchistan matters is not resources. A trail of hundreds of bullet-riddled bodies of Baluch activists, students and even poets, provides a clue to the biggest question hanging over Pakistan’s future. Can the fragile state garner the legitimacy needed to beat its many challengers, or is the nuclear-armed country locked in a spiral of violent decline?
The Baluchistan conflict is both distinct from the tensions gripping other parts of Pakistan, and emblematic of them. Imbued with a national identity forged over centuries, the region has felt like it has been treated as a virtual colony by Punjab, the most populous province, since Pakistan’s creation in 1947. Successive revolts have been followed by crackdowns, but little headway has been made in tackling the roots of Baluch marginalisation.
While Baluchistan’s history is unique, the belief among separatist fighters that the Pakistani state has lost legitimacy is shared by the country’s diverse purveyors of violence, from Taliban insurgents in the mountains on the Afghan frontier, to warring political parties carving up territory in the back streets of Karachi. In Baluchistan, though, the sense of alienation is so strong that some reject the Pakistani project altogether.

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