Whether Salman Khurshid likes it or not, and even if half of India thinks it’s too immature and the other half decides it a great idea – and that includes the Congress party that for once supported the Prime Minister; Narendra Modi has uttered the ‘B’ word that Pakistan dreads the most during his independence day speech. In a retort to Pakistan government’s increasing reference to Kashmir, he referred to the rights abuses in Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK and how the people there thanked Indians for the support. He questioned Pakistan’s interference in Kashmir issue when the country was dropping bombs on its own people. He referred to killing of innocent school children in Peshawar for which the entire India shed tears, whereas on the other hand there is glorification of terror from the other side.
Leaving aside the repercussion of what both the countries have done (by thwarting the opportunity for dialogue that continues to be the only way to resolution of issues)…why is Pakistan so touchy about Balochistan, which is in fact half of the country, almost 40% inhabited by the likes of fiercely nationalistic Pashtuns and Brahuis. Nationalistic in a sense that the forcefully acceded four provinces of Balochistan continue to feel occupied and suppressed, and the separatist group Balochistan Liberation Army continues to oppose Pakistan’s control over the region, which is rich in natural resources, enjoys a strategic location, but is the most backward region of Pakistan.
Despite Pakistan’s references to Kashmir from time to time, India, until now stuck to the policy of non-interference in Pak’s internal affairs, and here is the first PM of India to cross the line, and without referring to Pakistan, he simply thanked the people of Balochistan, who are until now fighting a lone battle. There are thousands of their people and leaders killed, raped and missing, and there is a continuous battle for justice on in Quetta, the nerve centre of Balochistan.
The leaders of the region are happy with PM Modi. “Even if the statement of the Indian PM is meant to divert attention from the ongoing situation in Kashmir, it will still help the Baloch nationalists in terms of highlighting their cause because the Baloch have been struggling for ages to get international support and not a single country has ever spoken in their support. Modi is the first Prime Minister in the world who has spoken of the Baloch and their sufferings. Thus, it is a great breakthrough. We have to wait and see if India supports Balochistan as a part of an official policy or if it is using Balochistan only as a chip to respond to Pakistan. I look at Modi and the the Baloch nationalists as strange bedfellows though,” said Malik Siraj Akbar, The Baloch Hal.