Since 1947, Baloch have resisted inclusion into the Pakistan and have waged several waves of ethno-nationalist insurgency against the state. Scholars and Baloch nationalist leaders alike generally assert that Baloch are more secular than other Pakistanis, more opposed to the political Islamist policies pursued by the state, and less supportive of Islamist militancy in the country. However, these claims lack empirical support. We employ data derived from a large national survey of Pakistanis from 2012 to evaluate these conventional wisdoms. Contrary to claims in the literature, we find that Baloch resemble Pakistanis generally with few important exceptions.

Author Bio(s)

C. Christine Fair is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She previously served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, a political officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and a senior research associate at USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. She has served as a Senior Fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, a Senior Resident Fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis (New Delhi) and will take up a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship in the spring of 2017. Her research focuses on political and military affairs in South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka). Her most recent book is Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press, 2014). She is also the co-editor, with Sarah J. Watson, of Pakistan’s Enduring Challenges (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014).

Ali Hamza is a senior project associate at Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy. He obtained his M.A. from the McCourt school in June of 2017.


We are grateful to the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, which provided Mr. Hamza with a grant to subsidize his crucial contributions to this project as well as the Security Studies Program at Georgetown which also supported Mr. Hamza’s participation to this and numerous other efforts. We also thank Neil Malhotra (Stanford University) and Jacob N. Shapiro (Princeton) with whom we fielded the survey which yielded the data employed herein. We also appreciate the thoughtful feedback from the reviewers. We alone are responsible for errors of fact and interpretation in this essay.


Balochistan, political Islam, insurgency, support for Islamist militancy

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