While the Pakistani government is
locked in a tense stand-off with the pro-Taliban Pushtun tribes, it has had
more success in pacifying the Baluchi tribes of the southwest. While there are
nearly 20 million Pushtuns, there are only about six million Baluchis.
Moreover, the Baluchis, although ethnically related to the Pushtuns, are not as
troublesome. In fact, the Baluchis have a long history of serving as
disciplined mercenaries. But the Baluchis do want a larger share of the oil and
gas being pumped from their territory, and have been waging a low level
rebellion over the issue for some five years. But two years ago, the government
killed or bought off several key rebel leaders. This caused a sharp reduction
in violence. In 2006, there were 772 violent incidents, which left 450 people
dead. That declined to 540 incidents in
2007. So far this year, there have been more bombs set off (three times the
rate of 2007), but fewer deaths (about a third the rate of last year). There's
still a lot of anger, but it is disorganized. The more frequent use of bombs,
and fewer attacks by armed men, is indicative of this.
negative side, the Baluchis are willing to support the Taliban. Not as
energetically as the Pushtuns. Few Baluchis are found among the Taliban
operating inside Afghanistan. But, the Baluchis are willing to be bought.
Combine that with widespread pro-Taliban attitudes among Baluchis, and it's no
surprise that many suspect Osama bin Laden is hiding out in the Baluchi backcountry
along the Afghan border.