Modi’s Balochistan statement – a counter-balancing maneuver?

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 12:00 am

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By Sohaib Baluch

At an all-party conference in New-Dehli, the Indian prime minister in an unprecedented action condemned Pakistani atrocities in Balochistan. This was widely cheered by Baloch activists, leaders and the public in general alike.  Next few days saw different statements and messages by Baloch leaders and political parties showering Mr. Modi with praises. Mr. Modi’s condemnation was also followed by his message of thanks to Baloch nation on the Indian Independence Day parade. This in no doubt is a significant diplomatic victory for Baloch struggle.

Baloch nation has been suffering a calculated genocide at the hands of Pakistani security forces since March 1948. Balochistan has been home to at least six full-scale wars of liberation, which Pakistani Army has tried to quash with outright military violence. Thousands have been killed or disappeared with no trace. The continuous suppression and atrocities by Pakistani forces have resulted in total stagnation of Baloch society’s development and progress.

China has also increasingly invested in Balochistan to further its strategic interests in the region. This is due to the very important geographical location of Balochistan. China is using Balochistan’s strategic location for its designs against the western countries.  This unwanted interest from China has added to the miseries of Baloch nation even further.

However, interestingly Balochistan has completely failed to attract world’s attention despite of the grave brutalities and China’s alarming activities. The civilized world has done or said very little to stop Pakistan and China’s activities in Balochistan. In this grave situation the actions of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been deemed as ray of hope.

This, however, has also raised skepticism amongst many. PM Modi’s statement came during all-parties conference on the issue of Kashmir at a time when Indian administrated Kashmir is seeing unrest after killing of a Pakistani backed militant commander Burhan Wani by Indian forces. It is widely believed that Pakistan is behind these protests and unrest. This whole situation could suggest that PM Modi may be using Balochistan as a counterbalancing maneuver. Though currently based only on hypothesis, this, if true, could be very damaging for Baloch struggle and demoralize the already subjugated Baloch nation.

Balochistan is a very serious issue and warrants actions and steps accordingly. It is in dire need of permanent foreign policies not only from India but also from regional countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and the western countries. India, being the biggest power and largest democracy in the region, has responsibility to highlight the Balochistan issue irrespective of the relations with Pakistan. In fact, India should shape its foreign policy based mainly on Balochistan’s issue.

Balochistan’s independence will not only relieve Baloch nation from sufferings but will also result in weakening of Pakistan. This will guarantee peace for Kashmir, Afghanistan and the region as a whole. It is therefore necessary that India should meet Baloch leaders and devise its policy accordingly. Indira Gandhi style assistance in case of Bangladesh might not be possible and appropriate but logistic and diplomatic assistance should be provided to Baloch nation as soon as possible. India could help Baloch nation to form its government in exile and could be the very first country to open Balochistan’s embassy on its soil. It will be a tragedy if India abandons Baloch nation and its struggle half way in case of improvement in its relations with Pakistan.

Sohaib Mengal is a former activist of BSO-Azad and tweets at @Sohaib_Baluch.

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