Pakistan: unstable, nuclear

More violence in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous Northwest Tribal Areas. This time rival clans in a land dispute in Miranshah, North Waziristan, decided to settle scores with live fire in the middle of a crowded market, leaving seven dead. (Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News, Jan. 27)

Meanwhile, Reuters warned Jan 26 that Pakistan may face a "protracted" war in Baluchistan, just to the south of the Tribal Areas and also bordering Afghanistan, where bomb and rocket attacks on government targets by a separatist guerilla movement are mounting. "The militants are heavily armed and operate training camps in areas inhabited mostly by the powerful Marri and Bugti tribes," a military official said on condition of anonymity. "The situation is grave and the violence could escalate." Train service in Baluchistan has been suspended fearing further attacks.

Pakistan’s military is already spread thin by the hunt for Taliban/al-Qaeda fugitives in the Tribal Areas, a dirty war on Islamic militants nearly throughout the country, and the ongoing stand-off with Indian troops across the disputed Kashmir border.

Meanwhile, for all the official paranoia over Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, US ally Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities (and simmering conflict with India) seem to arouse little concern these days. Speaking before the Belgian Royal Institute for International Relations Jan. 26, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz assured European leaders "Pakistan does not want to enter into an arms race with any country, including India, whether nuclear or conventional." But speaking out of the other side of his mouth in typical politican fashion, he groused that India’s conventional forces "vastly outnumber" those of Pakistan and that the gap is getting larger. (Reuters, Jan. 26)

See our last post on Baluchistan.