Balochistan Looks Ready To Blow. When It Does, It Likely Will Spill Over

Commentary | February 24, 2017


In the ungoverned corners of the world, conflicts simmering under the surface will almost inevitably boil over every now and again. Given the variables involved, the conflict in Pakistan’s Balochistan province looks ready to do just that — and it will almost certainly spill over Pakistan’s borders.

Pakistan strategists will often talk about the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Pakistan-Afghan border as security considerations, but rarely examine Balochistan, the largest and most resource-rich province in Pakistan, in detail. This can be misleading: The FATA make an ideal backdrop against which to praise the Pakistani Army’s relatively successful Zarb-e-Azb counterterrorism offensive, yet in Balochistan, the main stage for China’s $46 billion infrastructure investment, security forces falter.
The active Baloch separatist movement dates from the time of Pakistan’s partition from India, and militants have complicated the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s centerpiece, a highway connecting China’s western provinces with the new deep-water port in Gwadar (allowing China overland access to the Persian Gulf). Increased attacks by militants on CPEC construction sites in the past year pushed project leaders to reroute the highway largely through Sindh province, rather than directly through Balochistan.

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