FULL REPORT: Pakistan – Security situation in Balochistan will deteriorate throughout 2023 due to concurrent operations by multiple threat actors

South AsiaPakistan7 March 2023

FULL REPORT: Pakistan – Security situation in Balochistan will deteriorate throughout 2023 due to concurrent operations by multiple threat actors

Written by:
Tarun Nair
Image Credit: Danyal Ali / Shutterstock

TorchlightTorchlight Predictions

  • Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan will expand its presence in Balochistan over next six months, provoking rival groups to increase attacks
  • Rise in militant operations will significantly increase collateral risks outside cities in Balochistan, despite security forces being primary target
  • Federal response will be undermined by resource constraints and lack of concerted approach
Source: Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies


  • A suicide bombing targeting a police convoy in Bolan, Balochistan province kills at least nine security personnel and wounds over 13 others. The incident occurred when the policemen were returning from an annual cultural fair in Sibi. The Islamic State (IS) and Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP) groups independently claimed responsibility for the attack. (6 March)
  • TJP conducts its first attack, claiming responsibility for killing two Frontier Corps soldiers in Balochistan’s Chaman district. (23 February)


The contradicting claims likely indicate the attacker was a member of both organisations or a misattribution by either party due to opportunistic motivations. IS attacked the same cultural fair last year. If IS was involved, the incident signals the activation of local cells after a period of dormancy in late 2022, given it follows two attacks in February. The revival is likely due to a shift in operational focus from Afghanistan, where counterterrorism operations have limited attacks in recent weeks. This is also indicated by the mention of operations in Balochistan in the latest issue of IS’s Voice of Khurasan publication.

Should TJP’s involvement be confirmed, its willingness to conduct suicide bombings early in its reported existence indicates it is likely not newly formed. Regional militant groups typically desist from carrying out suicide bombings until they are well established or want to achieve specific tactical or strategic goals. This is due to the high fatality-to-casualty ratio of suicide bombings and their potential to trigger a disproportionate security response which could prove fatal to a nascent organisation. In this scenario, it is instead almost certain the TJP is a proxy of an existing militant organisation or sub-group.

We assess the TJP is likely a front for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP has expanded its networks in Balochistan since 2022, including by absorbing two local groups in Makran and Noshki. It has also increased propaganda regarding Balochistan, most recently indicated by a notable video release in late February. Within this context, it may be informally cooperating with Baloch nationalist insurgents on a limited basis, given Bolan and Chaman are within the insurgents’ sphere of influence. IS, the other major threat actor in the region, is highly unlikely to be linked to TJP, given they adhere to opposing schools of Islamic thought.

Implications for Business

Stability: There could be several reasons guiding the TTP’s choice to conduct some operations through a proxy if TJP was responsible, including a desire to project increased instability. The introduction of proxies would also help improve its competitive position against rivals like IS, especially following the recent revival of the IS-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group in Balochistan. Altogether, attacks by sectarian outfits like IS, Baloch insurgents, and the TTP will significantly increase insecurity in central and northwestern Balochistan in the next six months. Though most attacks will target security forces, this will drive up the risk of collateral damage to civilians, especially in outlying areas.

Militant alliances: Despite the prospect of their limited tactical cooperation, a higher tempo of TTP operations in Balochistan through proxies or otherwise will increase rifts with Baloch insurgents. The TTP’s inroads threaten to invite more security operations in areas with a large insurgent presence. The insurgents will also remain reluctant to strategically engage with the TTP given their vastly different ideologies and underlying grievances. One indicator of this is the lack of insurgent statements expressing sympathies with the TTP’s cause, regardless of the TTP’s repeated endorsement of the Baloch resistance since 2014.

Request free Torchlight Insights trial here.