There has been a radical shift in the winds that blow on India’s foreign policy front. For the first time ever in the history of post-independent India a Prime Minister raised the Balochistan issue in an Independence Day address to strike hard at Pakistan.
He thanked the people of Balochistan and those in Gilgit-Baltistan of PoK. “The way these people have showed respect for me, they have showed this respect for 1.25 billion Indians,” the PM said.
Immediately following Modi’s threat, Pakistan invited self-exiled Baloch leaders for talks and said that dialogue is the only solution.
Observers see this as the shift no previous government could muster up the courage to take. While the Congress-led UPA government’s foreign policy slowed India on the world stage, Modi’s clever diplomatic manoeuvre means that Pakistan will now have answer to the world on the atrocities it commits on the people of Balochistan.
Balochistan is in Pakistan’s south. The people of the region have been long demanding independence from Islamabad’s draconian rule. Pakistani authorities and the army suppress Balochi activists by either jailing or killing them. Women too are not spared.
Leading activists from the region have been requesting India of helping their demand for freedom.
When PM Modi threatened that India will expose the atrocities committed by Pakistan on Balochistan at the all-party meeting, every top Balochi leader including Naila Qadri Baloch and Hammal Haider Baloch, representative of the Baloch National Movement, thanked the PM. They hoped that India will raise the issue of Balochistan’s freedom at the United Nations during the September session. “We people of Balochistan, Baltistan and PoK are with you and thank you (PM Modi) for your support,” Naila said. A similar sentiment was echoed by Hammal: “We welcome PM Modi’s statement to support freedom movement of Balochistan. This is the first time ever that an Indian PM has expressed his wish to support the Baloch people. It is a very crucial decision,” he said.
Today, more Balochi leaders thanked Modi: The reason why India is now openly threatening Pakistan with the Balochi card is because of Islamabad’s constant interference in India’s internal affairs including the support it showed to slain terrorist Burhan Wani and his sympathisers following his killing by security forces in Kashmir.
Pakistan has been falsely accusing India of committing human rights abuses in Kashmir following the killing of Wani even raising the matter at the UN.
Till date, India refrained from raising the Balochistan issue despite the fact that Pakistan has actually been committing “a genocide”, as Naila describes, in the region. Sreemoy Talukdar writes in Firstpost that “India will categorically reclaim its writ over Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, no longer tolerate interference in matters internal and intrinsic to India’s sovereignty, rebuff Pakistan’s efforts of whitewashing cross-border terrorism and most significantly, expose globally its gross human rights violations, brutalities and untold atrocities in Balochistan and PoK.” Prashant Jha writes in the Hindustan Times that the fact that “India’s Prime Minister has spoken of Balochistan – and from the ramparts of the Red Fort – signifies a level of political sanction and commitment that has not been seen so far on the issue. It also means that once Delhi has taken the plunge, it cannot hop out at will.” It should be noted here that the Balochistan is strategically important for Pakistan since the Gwadar port – a crucial peg in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – is located in this region. Without Balochistan, there will be no Gwadar and without Gwadar China will have nothing to dominate the Arabian Sea.