Just saw this interesting Blog on Balochistan. I was indeed surprised to learn the complex history of Balochistan, including the forced annexation in 1948.
Killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, as reported in BBC has definitely made the issue very complex. It appears that Pakistan has lost the moral upper ground in its battle over Balochistan.
History and Background
Balochistan (also Baluchistan) is an area located over Iran and Pakistan. Named after the numerous Baloch (or Baluch, Balouch, Balooch, Balush, Balosh, Baloosh, Baloush) tribes, who moved into the area from the west around 1000 A.D., Balochistan existed as largely an independent entity for most of its history.
Accession Problem 1948
When the British eventually gave India (and the newly-created Pakistan) independence in August 1947 Mir Ahmed Yar Khan declared Kalat’s independence. Baloch chiefs and people sympathised with the idea. In April 1948 the Pakistani army was brought in, and Mir Ahmed Yar Khan signed an accession agreement ending Kalat’s de facto independence. His brother, Prince Abdul Karim, decided to carry on the struggle. Basing himself in Afghanistan he conducted a guerrilla war against the Pakistani army.
The 1973 war of independence
A long-dormant crisis erupted in Balochistan in 1973 into an insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter. The insurgency was put down by the Pakistan Army, which employed brutal methods and equipment, including Huey-Cobra helicopter gunships, provided by Iran and flown by Iranian pilots. It is possible that Iran was concerned with Balochistan independence movement, as it may have affected the Balochistan region in Iran as well.
Continued Excesses and Killings of Civilians
As quoted in Wikipedia (accessed on September 3rd, 2006):
“In January 2006, Indymedia released on its website a 14 minute long amateur video purportedly recorded on March 17 2005 in the town of Dera Bugti, that shows a number of dead bodies including children and signs of mortar shelling. In the video it is alleged that 60 people were killed in the fighting between Baloch nationalists and Pakistani army/security forces that took place that day. A human rights report from the U.S. State Department, states that 10 civilians were killed and more than 80 wounded in security force attacks on militants over two days at the end of December 2005.”
Forcefully annexed by nascent Pakistan in 1948, Balochistan has had a difficult past, never really assimilating with Pakistan, and always maintaining its own identity. Killing of Nawab Bugti (who is widely known as a leader of Baloch independent movement, and a tyrant as well), marks a momentum shift in this struggle.