Until recently, not much was known about the historical roots of the Baloch "problem" outside of Pakistan, although Baloch activists had long attempted to draw attention to the 1970s rebellion, and the Pakistani military's brutal suppression of the leftist guerilla movement there (replete with napalm bombs and other weapons readily supplied by the USA, eager to forestall real or imagined Communists everywhere). That began to change when Baloch fighters took up arms a year or two ago, ostensibly to protest their province's longstanding marginalization -- both economic and political -- within Pakistan. The government's reaction (heavy handed, and overwhelmingly military) demonstrates that it has learned nothing from India's own misadventures in Kashmir and elsewhere. The result is a full-blown movement, though to what end -- secession? autonomy? -- remains unclear, at least to me.
Over the weekend, in an action that may politely be called "dumb", the Pakistani military killed Nawab Aftab Bugti, according to many accounts the guiding light of Baloch nationalism. The result was more violence, and the unshakable feeling that the movement now has its martyr par excellence. The Pakistani news media is not amused (and is right on not to be so, in my view).
. . . though perhaps Musharraf and co. need to speak to some within the PML(Q) first.
If you haven't been paying attention to this area, you'd be well-advised to start.
The government must abandon the attitude of arrogance and impatience that led to the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and adopt a more patient and conciliatory approach in dealing with the highly sensitive Balochistan situation. As in Waziristan, so also in Balochistan, it is politics, not force, that must be put in command.
From my own experience, sadly, whether Waziristan or Balochistan, far too many have internalized the Raj-era stereotype of the "feudal", the "tribal", as one who is resistant only secondarily to the state, and principally to modernity itself, and to its rationalizing discourses. So total is this resistance imagined to be that this pre-modern "other" is deemed insensible to anything except the language of force. It shouldn't surprise us if "they" have come to the same conclusion about "us".