There has been something of a tremor in Balochistan because Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti said that the armed struggle could be converted into talks now that the government was more amenable. Does that mean that the separatist movement will lose a paladin? It should be noted that Brahamdagh is not naturally a separatist, not judging by his pedigree. His grandfather, to whom he claims to be heir, Nawab Akbar Bugti, was hardly a separatist. He was accounted a supporter of Pakistan in his native province, and opposed the insurrection there of the 1970s, when he became Governor when Sher Muhammad Marri began his insurrection. Nawab Akbar himself took to the hills just before he was killed in 2006. It has a certain appropriateness that his grandson chose his death anniversary to drop this particular bombshell.

Of course, Balochistan is multiply troubled. Brahamdagh might be responsible for some of the mayhem, but not all. That was shown by the killing of 12 militants, belonging to a militant party, in Quetta and Sui. Though Sui is Bugti territory, Quetta is not. It is less known for Baloch separatism than for the repeated massacres of Hazaras. Sectarianism and separatism are not the only problems. India has a hand in stirring the pot. There is no pro-Indian party in Balochistan, but separatism and sectarianism have an Indian component, and India wants to avoid talks with Pakistan not just because of the Kashmir issue, but because it does not want its role in Balochistan unveiled.

Anyhow, India was clearly busier paying attention to Kashmir. It was busy killing Sialkoti villagers by firing across the Working Boundary, as it has been doing before, thereby causing the USA to worry about a nuclear war in the region. While India is well aware that any war, let alone nuclear, would upset the USA, its apparent blithe assumption that there will be no war is over-optimistic. Sabre-rattling is carried out on the assumption that there will be a fight. India should not assume that the worm will not turn.

Of course, Brahamdagh was not the only Baloch in the news. So was Siddiq Baloch, the MNA from Lodhran. Elected an independent, he joined the PML(N). Only to be unseated last week, just after National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq. Separate election tribunals arrived at these decisions, which will result in by-elections. Both decisions were made on election petitions by the Pakistan Tehrik Insaf. Both unseatings were celebrated, and the unseated MNAs were told not to seek a stay order from the Supreme Court. One sympathises with Sardar Ayaz, who has not had the courts give him any quarter. Apart from the decision unseating him, the Lahore High Court reinstated the Aitchison College Principal who refused his grandson admission. It will be inconvenient, but Sardar Ayaz should not have much to worry about. By-elections are not lost by ruling parties.

The problem has been that the seats, even if won by the PTI, will not give it a majority. The Election Tribunals, as well as the Election Commission, have failed to declare that Mian Nawaz Sharif is unseated, and replaced by Imran Khan. That is why the PTI is demanding the resignation of the ECP’s members. Or else Imran will begin a dharna outside its office on October 4. Three members, put off by the prospect of facing PTI workers invading their offices, desperate to get to a john, like the PTV attack, have decided to resign.

So far, PPP workers have not had to get into the action. That has been put on the table though, with Syed Khurshid Shah threatening ‘war’ if ex-President Asif Zardari is arrested. It would be a real shame if an ex-President was to be arrested, but what can you do if the Chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission is arrested? Yes, Dr Asim Hussain has been put in jail, allegedly for funding terrorists. No, not religious militants, but target killers. Wonder if he is in any way involved in the plan by terrorists to target an imambargah in Karachi this Muharram. A RAW plan, by the way. Cases have been registered against Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Yusuf Reza Gilani too. Funny, they seem to have such honest faces.

Presumably, they are not militants, nor have helped militants, like the Ikhwanul Muslimeen, which appears why three Al-Jazeera journalists got three years from an Egyptian court. Nor are they in any way involved in the killing of a TV reporter and a cameraman in Virginia, during an interview. The killer was another TV reporter, just fired. He shot himself after a car chase, proving once again the truth of the old newsman’s adage that you should never be anyone in a news story. I’m surprised that they haven’t accused the shooter, Vester Flanagan, of being a militant.

There’s a flood of refugees in Europe. No less than 71, Syrians, were found dead in Austria, in a refrigerator van, abandoned near the Hungarian border. That was sandwiched between refugees drowning while fleeing Libya, and children in Austria almost dying of dehydration, crammed into a minivan trying to get into Germany.