Akhbar Khan, a nationalist/independence leader in
Baluchistan has recently been killed by the Pakistani military, in a massive
operation that is seriously destabilizing military dictator Pervez Musharraf's
Why should the news
from Baluchistan interest us? I'll let you connect the dots by presenting a bit
of context and concluding with an article from the Carnegie Endowment ,
which, I think, will
significance of the event for the prospected US attack on Iran.
dictator's regime is very unpopular in Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf, as
Bush's ally on the "war on terror," has had to do unpopular things,
like deploying 70,000 troops to the North-West autonomous tribal regions (among
them Waziristan) to hunt down "terrorists" and such.
He hasn't been
successful, but American aerial attacks from nearby Afghanistan have killed
alleged "leaders" and sundry civilians, causing a flood of refuges
and displacements. Serious Pakistani military casualties have not increased his
popularity and neither has the charge that he's allowing American forces to
violate Pakistan's sovereignty. Musharraf's campaign in Waziristan has failed
so thoroughly that the region is now virtually off limits to government forces.
contiguous with the Waziristan region. Baluchistan is a western province of
Pakistan, constituting about 40 percent of Pakistan's national surface. Its
capital is Quetta, accused by Afghanistan's Karzai (which really means
Washington) of being a Taliban stronghold supplying and fueling the Taliban
armed resurgence in southern Afghanistan. Musharraf's regime denies it.
Musharraf has reopened hostility in Baluchistan against the decades-long
separatist forces, which he's accused of provoking into taking up arms again.
Musharraf has come under intense criticism by British, American, and Afghan
officials for not doing enough for the "war on terror." The trouble
is that if he complies with his allies in the "war on terror," he
comes under attack from domestic critics, of which he has legions, including
the majority of the people.
developments in the murder of the Baluch leader, Bugti, is a case in point:
Pakistan is in an uproar and calling for his resignation.
Why would the
axis-of-evil crusaders want to destabilize a crucial ally? They don't
"want" to, but they have bigger plans.
The US has three
military bases in Baluchistan. They say they are fighting Al Qaeda and Taliban
forces in the region. Perhaps. But, Baluchistan borders with Iran to the west.
Baluchistan, too, is rich in natural gas and minerals. China is helping the
Pakistani government to build a natural gas pipeline from Baluchistan's port of
Gwadar to China, a project the Bush administration opposes. The port of Gwadar
just happens to be geographically located to overlook the Straits of Hormuz,
which the Iranians intend to block if they are attacked. Hormuz is the crucial
sea route for internatinal oil distribution.
the US should be interested in "terrorism" in Baluchistan and urging
Musharraf to be more zealous at the same time that it is planning an attack on
An article by the
Carnegie Endowment entertains the same thought, albeit to deny it: "The
Baluch and the Pakistani think that Washington would like to use Baluchistan as
a rear-guard base for an attack on Iran, and Iran is suspected of supporting
Baluch [independence] activists in order to counter such a Pakistani-US plot. .
. . Some Pakistanis perceive the US using its Greater Middle East initiative to
dismantle the major Muslim states and redefine the borders of the region. Some
Baluch nationalists charge the US with conspiring with the Pakistani government
to put an end to Baluch claims. So far nobody has been able to prove any of
No? No matter, the
Iranians have been mining their side of the Baluch borders, just in case, and
Bugti, Baluch independence leader, has been killed by the diplomatically
besieged Musharraf, catapulting the country into a political crisis.
Coincidence? Or are
plans for an Iranian attack well on the way?
I remind you that
Seymour Hersh, in The New Yorker, has confirmed that US commandos have launched
penetration initiatives across Pakistani Baluchistan into Iran.
blast damages Pakistani government build amid protests over tribal chief's
killing, International Herald Tribune, 27 Aug. 2006
killing is like the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, New Kerala, 27 Aug.
Pak Oppn slams
govt. for Bugti killing, The Hindu, 29 Aug. 2006
afterlight of the Bugti episode, Dawn, 29 Aug. 2006
The Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism, Carnegie Endowment, 26 Jan. 2006
Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.