Musharaff has delivered on his promise of "you'll not know what has hit you!" made to Nawab Bugti, the Baluch tribal leader who was killed by Pakistan Army on Sunday. It remains to be seen whether the Bugti and the Marri tribesmen are going to deliver on Nawab Bugti's promise to Musharaff of "I'll give you a war you'll never forget and send you to the barracks where you belong!".
At the outset, it might look bizarre to the outside world that a former chief minister/governor of a Pakistani province is killed using helicopter gunships more like chasing Al-Qaida rats out of their caves. But if you understand the complex security/sovereignty arrangement in Pakistan, where Musharaff for all practical purposes is only the head of the most powerful militia (aka Pakistan Army!), then its possible to accept Bugti's killing as 'chalta hai!'.
For the uninitiated, Pakistan has always placed the interests of Punjab and to some extent Sindh above those of all other provinces. So its no surprise that NWFP looks more like Afghan/Jehadi territory than a Pakistani province, tribal regions of North and South Waziristhan have only recently seen a Pakistani soldier for the first time ever! and Azad Jammu Kashmir and Northern Areas have remained what they always were, stolen territories! Baluch nationalism has flared up time and again only to be cooled down by Islamabad with ad-hoc agreements. Bugti becoming Baluchistan governor was not very different from Sheikh Abdullah being made Kashmir Chief Minister by India.
I believe, all the gleeful predictions by Asian media of doomsday scenario for Musharaff because of a Baluch backlash may be too optimistic! Musharaff has come out of far more complex situations with flying colors and this assassination of Nawab Bugti may well be a feather in his crown! Come to think of it, several decades from now when Indian prime ministers like Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh would have been long forgotten (even in India), Musharaff may still be remembered in the Marshall Tito, Colonel Nasser and Anwar Sadat league! By his actions this Sunday going against the more popular dialogue approach of the PMLQ government, Musharaff has reminded everyone that he will be a force to reckon with for a long time to come!
India for its part has indicated that the gloves are off in its support for Baluch nationalism and the yearning to see the balkanization of Pakistan! It remains to be seen whether India can take its Baluch involvement to the levels of engagement it had with Ahmed Shah Mazood of the Afghan Northern alliance. However I would be far more happy, if India stirred up something in POK/NA than in Baluchistan!
If India was indeed behind the recent year long flair up in Baluchistan, it was perhaps a tactical mistake. It has provided Musharaff with enough reasons to dodge US criticism of not doing enough against Al-Qaida/Taliban and divert resources (most of which were provided by US) to his macho adventures in Baluchistan. But then since when were we known to be smart on Geopolitics? Ours is an unparalleled history of spectacular screw ups in Kashmir, Northeast, China, Srilanka and more!