Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has accused rival India of fueling the separatist sentiment in the Balochistan Province, the largest province in Pakistan, by backing the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Malik said it was part of a conspiracy of destabilize Pakistan.
And surely, while India dismissed the allegations as baseless, Pakistan has hardly required external pressure to destabilize it in recent months. Though there are no current military operations ongoing in Balochistan, the always simmering separatist sentiment is a perennial concern for Pakistan, and moreso at a time when even regions close to their capital are difficult to firmly control.
Unrest in Balochistan has been growing recently, with three top leaders being detained by security forces and then being announced to have been killed by “anti-state elements,” sparking riots and general strikes across the massive province. The BLA’s ambition is to establish an independent Baloch state, including both the Pakistani provinces and Baloch regions of Iran.
Also at issue are reports that President Obama is under pressure to widen America’s drone strikes, which until now have been almost exclusively in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, into Balochistan. A top cleric in the Provincial capital of Quetta has threatened jihad against the United States if it launches such attacks.