On 18 October, a truck carrying police officials was targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in a suicide attack, killing seven.
Balochistan has been witnessing violence and insurgency in waves since independence. The present phase of insurgency has been going for the last fifteen years, led by Baloch insurgents for a secular ethnic cause. The above attack was not a part of the Baloch insurgency.
In the recent years, there have been two new actors – the Pakistani Taliban and the sectarian militants – especially the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The latter primarily target the Hazara community in Balochistan, especially around Quetta. The Hazaras are Shias and have their links to Afghanistan. While they have been living in Quetta peacefully with the local communities for more than a century, in the recent years (since 2012), they have been targeted by the LeJ. The latest attack on the Hazaras took place few days earlier, when two militants in bike opened fire on Hazara vegetable vendors. The LeJ has its base in Punjab.
The Pakistani Taliban has been targetting the security forces, as a part of their anti-State campaign all over Pakistan. In the recent years, they have increased their activities within Balochistan. The TTP has its base primarily in the KP and FATA. Most of the suicide attacks in Balochistan were carried out by the TTP.
How do the TTP and LeJ who do not have their bases in Balochistan succeed in carrying out attacks in Quetta, the provincial capital?
It is no coincidence that the violence led by non-Balochi groups have increased since Afghan Taliban moved into Balochistan and the Quetta Shura became a force. Quetta Shura is bound to encourage and provide space to other militant groups.
Also the State, especially the Establishment in its myopic view, decided to ignore the sectarian ingress and overlook the violence against the Shia communities in Balochistan, and also the Shia pilgrims from Gilgit Baltistan who travel to Iran via Balochistan. The blowback is bound to happen. And grow bigger.
ISIS should be considered as the fourth non-State actor in Balochistan, besides the Baloch militants, TTP and LeJ. Some of the recent suicide attacks in Balochistan have been claimed by them.
Recent statistics would reveal, the violence in Balochistan is shifting from tribal to urban regions, and from the Baloch to non-Baloch perpetrators. What does this mean? Is the new violence and the perpetrators likely to deflect the original question in Balochistan? Is there an orchestration? Or, do groups play their own little games and wage small wars under the larger violence in Balochistan?