Monday, February 14, 2005

South Asia | The world according to the Baloch

BBC NEWS | South Asia | The world according to the Baloch:

Marri tribesmen undergoing military training in a rebel camp
Baloch tribesmen still fight with antiquated Soviet weaponry
Violence by tribal insurgents in the province of Balochistan has been setting alarm bells ringing in Pakistan.

The son of one of Balochistan's tribal leaders here sets out his fears for the future of the province.

Violence in Balochistan recently prompted tough-talking President Pervez Musharraf to warn Baloch tribesmen to stop fighting or 'they will not know what hit them'.

He was probably referring to his army's newly acquired hi-tech weaponry - such as night vision attack helicopters - given by the US to help eliminate Islamist militants on Pakistan's western border.

Gen Musharraf's threatening tirade, however, has had the opposite effect. Almost overnight, even the few pro-military urbanized Baloch have turned against the general's jingoistic philosophy.

The reason for this transformation lies deep within Baloch culture.

Resisting domination

The Baloch speak a Western Iranian language related to Kurdish. Nomadic and warlike, they migrated from southern Iran to escape the depredations of Genghis Khan's Mongols sometime in the 13th century.

Their preference for mountainous terrains and the resulting geographic isolation allowed them to maintain a distinct cultural identity and resist domination by a long succession of neighbouring rulers."

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