Winning: Battered Baluchis Battle On


May 16,2008: While the Pakistani government is locked in a tense stand-off with the pro-Taliban Pushtun tribes, it has had more success in pacifying the Baluchi tribes of the southwest. While there are nearly 20 million Pushtuns, there are only about six million Baluchis. Moreover, the Baluchis, although ethnically related to the Pushtuns, are not as troublesome. In fact, the Baluchis have a long history of serving as disciplined mercenaries. But the Baluchis do want a larger share of the oil and gas being pumped from their territory, and have been waging a low level rebellion over the issue for some five years. But two years ago, the government killed or bought off several key rebel leaders. This caused a sharp reduction in violence. In 2006, there were 772 violent incidents, which left 450 people dead. That declined to 540 incidents in 2007. So far this year, there have been more bombs set off (three times the rate of 2007), but fewer deaths (about a third the rate of last year). There's still a lot of anger, but it is disorganized. The more frequent use of bombs, and fewer attacks by armed men, is indicative of this.

On the negative side, the Baluchis are willing to support the Taliban. Not as energetically as the Pushtuns. Few Baluchis are found among the Taliban operating inside Afghanistan. But, the Baluchis are willing to be bought. Combine that with widespread pro-Taliban attitudes among Baluchis, and it's no surprise that many suspect Osama bin Laden is hiding out in the Baluchi backcountry along the Afghan border.




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