US turns its eye to Baluchistan

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Quetta Front & the Baluchi Factor

As fighting in Afghanistan, particularly the south, intensifies U.S. policy-makers are beginning to shift their gaze to Afghanistan’s southern border with Pakistan and wondering if the northern regions of Baluchistan are – like the FATA on Afghanistan’s eastern border – serving as a Taliban haven. U.S. officials have even claimed that Taliban head Mullah Omar and his top leaders are living in Baluchistan’s capital Quetta.

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One of our friends here on NowPublic has been bemoaning the lack of concern for his countrymen for awhile, and the presence of the Taliban in his country along with their partnership with Pakistan forces in oppressing them.

From 2003:

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The border regions of Pakistan, and Quetta in particular, are emerging as the main center of Taliban support in the region, and a breeding ground for opposition sentiment to the American campaign in Afghanistan and Mr. Karzai's government. Senior Taliban officials and commanders are taking refuge here, too, Afghan and American officials say. Members of the political opposition in Pakistan confirm that Taliban leaders are active and are recruiting young men to fight.

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Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan, and reports have confirmed a major training camp for Taliban is located there.

Some bits of advice from in-country:

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"America is in for big trouble in Afghanistan unless you remove the source," warned one influential editor, who declined to give his name.

Habib Jalib Baloch, a former senator and leader of the Baloch National Party, said, "America should have selected to crush Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan, rather than go to war in Iraq."

He said he was sure that the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, and his top commanders were all in Pakistan, protected by their links to the Pakistani establishment.

"You need to cut the funding," he said. "You will not kill them with a hammer. You must cut the funding and the connection."

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