Waiting for the Worst: Baluchistan

Nicholas Schmidle in the Virginia Quarterly Review:


In some parts of Baluchistan, a rebellion is already underway. The Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), a shadowy but well-armed organization that most believe is led a member of the Baluchistan Provincial Assembly, regularly attacks railways, oil and gas installations, and Pakistani Army garrisons. The Pakistani Army has responded to the insurgency by deploying tens of thousands of troops, along with some sophisticated weaponry, to the mountain areas where the BLA is strongest. The low-level civil war has already killed hundreds of people and is straining the resources and attention of one of the United States’ most valued allies in the “war on terror.” But more than that, it is threatening the cohesion and integrity of the Pakistani state.

Some months back, a Baluchi friend and I were dining at a Chinese restaurant in Islamabad, discussing my plans my visit Quetta. He encouraged me to come soon. Violence was getting worse by the day and no one knew who was really responsible; the BLA, the Taliban, and even the Pakistani intelligence services were all suspect, he said.

“Plus, if you wait too long,” he began, before scanning the room and cracking a devilish smile, “you might need a visa.”

More here.