The distant shores of Bengal broke away from Pakistan to earn sovereignty and acceptance that they could never have secured under the East Pakistan label. In all these years, with some help from our neighbours, Pakistan has nurtured Balochistan into another Bangladesh.

Political tensions and separatist movements have existed in the region since the creation of Pakistan. The comparisons between Bangladesh and Balochistan, and the reasons that led to a war for independence in 1971 are alarmingly similar.

Balochistan is a source of natural gas and coal, and provides the mineral resources in abundance to the rest of the country, yet statistics have revealed that Balochistan tops the chart in infant and maternal mortality rate, worst level of rural poverty and low literacy rates that further confirm the notion of Balochistan being a deprived province. Adding fuel to fire, religious extremism has seeped into the roots of the province. Terrorist organisations, Sipah-e-Sahaba and LeJ, openly conduct events and hold mass gatherings, publicly threatening the Shi'a Hazara community in Quetta. Day-light murders and mutilated bodies have become a common sight in Balochistan further indicating that, perhaps, it is time to shift our focus from Islamabad to Quetta.

Gwadar Port located at the border of Balochistan opens a door of economic opportunities for Pakistan by establishing a trade route with Central Asian States and the Gulf. Balochistan itself is an area of undiscovered potential which creates a conflict of interest between countries that might be affected by any development in the region.

Gwadar Port offers Pakistan with a strategic advantage in case of any future armed conflict with India. Gwadar agreement with China threatens the naval security of India as it allows the Chinese to encircle India in the sea.

Hopes pinned to the present provincial government consisting of Baloch and Pashtun nationalists for a breakthrough in political negotiations with the staunch opponents of the government, are met with obstacles in any reconciliation process. Lack of ideological co-operation between nationalist militants and federal security agencies over provincial administration has added to the already chaotic situation of Balochistan.

Despite hardcore military operations carried out by the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence, Baloch freedom-fighters operating in different groups have successfully managed to steadily weaken the hold of the Pakistani security forces and intelligence in their homeland. Meanwhile, Pakistani governments have further instigated Baloch nationalists by adopting a provocative approach towards the region. Authorities have long tried to deprive the people of Balochistan of the natural resources that originate from the province. The name of Sui sub-district has become synonymous with natural gas in Pakistan due to the location of the Sui gas field. However, most of the Balochistan province is still deprived of natural gas and those who do have it suffer from irregular supply routines due to shortages, gas loadshedding and pipeline disruptions.

Balochistan has drawn sympathy from the international world for purely strategic motives and economic interests. Neighboring countries see Balochistan as a gateway through which resources transferred at much cheaper rates and with greater efficiency, highlighting the fact that there is immense investment potential within the province that countries such as China and Russia are keen on exploiting.

Radical militant groups such as LeJ carry out target killings that are central to the Hazara Shi’ite population. The religious sentiment could also attract sympathy from Iran. Balochistan could well become the next battleground for proxy wars between separatist movements and the state, and possibly Iran and Pakistan.

The common man of Pakistan is completely unaware of the situation in Balochistan, much like people of West Pakistan had turned a blind eye towards East Pakistan. The only news we get from Balochistan is bad news.

But what really has gone wrong in Balochistan? General Musharraf started a military operation against the Baloch nationalists who wanted control over Balochistan and its resources. The martyrdom of Nawab Akbar Bugti, rather than putting an end Baloch nationalism, began a new chapter for Balochistan. Bugti became a symbol of conviction and pride for Baloch tribes, coaxing them to take up arms for the protection of their homeland.

Towards the end of his military regime, Musharraf had set free a roaring lion that wanted nothing to do with Pakistan and barely considered itself to be a part of it. The tenure of President Zardari was filled with false promises of reconciliation that allowed the disgruntled Baloch separitists to further strengthen their beliefs of rebellion and independence.

The British, before leaving, blessed Pakistan with a separate identity and traditional enemy in the face of India. India was a large contributor in the Bangladesh Liberation War – playing the role of an opportunist with plenty to gain. India gave refuge to exiled Bangladeshi army officers, voluntary workers and the masses suffering from financial hardships and political instability. India provided Mukti Bahini guerrillas with military assistance and set up camps for their recruitment and training. India successfully played the role of a facilitator and it was a war jointly won by India and the people of East Pakistan.

It is indeed evident that India has not come to terms with the existence of Pakistan and finds peace in destabilizing Pakistan through strategically planned acts of terrorism.

India became the first South-Asian nation to introduce cross-border firing. The intelligence services are used as tools to promote state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan and separatist ideas among the people of Pakistan. India has developed diplomatic establishments in Afghanistan and provides funding to anti-Pakistan forces working in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A destabilized Balochistan is equivalent to a destabilized Pakistan, but nobody among us is willing to accept it just yet.

The Balochistan war is not against Baloch separatists, nationalist movements or India, but against federal policies, deliberate alienation and the leopard who can't change its spots.