Pakistan's other problem: narratives, enduring injustice and ethnopolitical conflict in Balochistan

Rizwan Zeb

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated] After an interval of more than two decades during which Baloch nationalist leadership actively participated in the mainstream politics, contested elections and was striving to achieve its objectives through parliamentary politics, insurgent violence returned to Balochistan in 2002.
The emergence of conflict in Balochistan occurred when the local elite, who were benefiting from the developments during the 1990s, argued that they felt left out from what the Centre was planning. The construction of mega projects especially the Gwadar port without consulting the Baloch political leadership, construction of military cantonments, devolution of power plan and the victory of Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) (United Council for Action) in 2002 elections created a rift between the Centre and the province. After Abkar Bugti’s death in 2006, the insurgent violence intensified. The Baloch (periphery) claims to be fighting for its tribal honor whereas Islamabad (center) claims to be fighting to ensure national security.
This thesis explores the causes of the resurgence of insurgent violence within an historical context.
Drawing upon the literature on ethnopolitical conflicts, the thesis is based on the premise that ethnopolitical conflicts occur due to the politicization of ethnicity. In the process of politicization of ethnicity, the elite or leadership of that ethnicity and ethnic group plays the most important role. Once ethnicity is politicized, again, it is the ethnic elite / leadership which decides whether the politically active ethnicity will turn violent or not. When it turns violent, government symbols and installations are targeted, as are other ethnic groups. This is done for two reasons; one, to signal resolve, second, to achieve a stronger bargaining position vis-a-vis the central government. In the process of the politicization of ethnicity, the elite employ the tool of narrative(s) based on the collective memory of an actual or perceived injustice to the ethnic group. However, the presence of a memory of a past injustice could only be used to politicize an ethnic group when an actual or perceived injustice is happening to the ethnic group at the time.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


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