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Should India openly extend its support to Baloch nationalists?

  • Yajush Gupta

Balochistan is currently a part of Pakistan, comprising 46 % of the total land of the country and is blessed with great natural resources. But the demand for ‘azadi’ (independence) has been intensifying.

Credit: TheLineoffreedom.com
Credit: TheLineoffreedom.com

Balochistan has always been on India’s mind when it comes to Pakistan. However, more than ever, Balochistan can now be much more than India’s negotiating card to contain Pakistani proxy terrorism. For the first time, leaders and activists of Baloch independence are seeking for tactful, diplomatic and moral support from India undisguised.

Baloch leaders- in pursuit of their freedom movement-  have tried to highlight Pakistan’s “genocide” in Balochistan and have stepped up Publicly seeking support from New Delhi. They have also tried to push the theory that supporting Balochistan is also in India’s interest: a free and independent Balochistan will act as an antidote for the Pakistan-China anti-India coalition.

In a recent write-up, a political commentator Mr. Kanchan Gupta explains why India must stand by Balochistan in its struggle for freedom. He argues:

“Great nations and rising powers have to be risk-takers. The inevitable backlash of supporting Balochistan’s liberation war will no doubt be huge. But if Mrs Gandhi, prime minister of an impoverished nation, could turn up her nose at what the world thought, surely Narendra Modi, prime minister of the fastest growing economy, can do likewise”

Although apart from a flimsy evidence of a youtube video, allegedly claiming an individual to be an Indian spy operating at Balochistan and few other evidence of youtube links where a Baloch rebel declares India as an ally, there is not much of a confirmation about India’s involvement in Balochistan.

Mr. Kanchan Gupta further states:

India’s position on Balochistan has been, at best, ambivalent. Notwithstanding the arrest of an Indian national (Pakistan claims he is a “RAW agent” and was arrested on its side of the Goldsmith Line; there are credible claims he was arrested by the Iranians and handed over to the ISI), it would be silly to imagine a grand Indian conspiracy in action. New Delhi has long been incapable of doing what Mrs. Indira Gandhi did in 1970-71″

Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan was comprised of 4 princely states – Kharan, Makran, Las Bela and Kalat. The leader of the most powerful unit of Balochistan was The khan of Kalat who attempted to declare sovereignty from the Pakistan’s gruesome regime in 1948. Since then there have been several attempts by the Balochistan liberation army for greater regional autonomy for the province of Balochistan (also referred to Baluchistan).

The decision by India to get into a MoU with Iran for the development of the strategically important Chabahar port can be very useful for India. This gives India presence around Balochistan, literally encircling Pakistan. If India decides to support Balochistan cause openly, it would distract Pakistan from interfering in Kashmir.

Another important question that arises is the kind of approach India should hold on to safeguard its own economic and security interests. Should India Openly acknowledge it or keep it discreet and support it tactfully. On this, Kanchan says:

One possible option is for India to declare moral and diplomatic support for the freedom movement in Balochistan, while calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. A successful Balochistan policy premised on India’s historical association with just causes would also lead to the forging of a successful Pakistan policy”

As far as Human rights abuses in Balochistan, India should look to incline towards diplomatic methods and backend support, the same way Pakistan is endorsing movement in Indian Kashmir.

There is no denying the fact, that supporting Balochistan would be a huge step for Modi’s government and shaping its foreign policy towards its closest neighbor Pakistan.

  • Prepared by Yajush Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter @yajush_gupta

 

 

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