Modi discovers B-Bomb against Pakistan
Balochistan is now being discussed at the international forums and western capitals are abuzz with the alleged atrocities by the Pakistani government on Balochis, almost all of whom resent being ruled by Islamabad, How it came to be a province of Pakistan is also been looked into, whereas Kashmir, although currently in turmoil for almost 63 days, is not on the world radar as yet. This despite Nawaz Sharif reportedly dispatching 22 envoys to various countries to inform the people about alleged violence and repression in the Valley.
He himself has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue and alleged human rights violation. But world has not reacted. Its obvious that Pakistan’s credibility is very low, because of its notoriety as incubator and exporter of terrorists. Its cross-border terror attacks are well-established, whereas India is seen to be a victim of terror attacks from across the LoC and Narendra Modi’s personal stature is very high in the world capitals. He almost casually mentioned during his address to the nation on Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort that people of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir had expressed their gratitude to him for his sympathy for them. And then he talked about atrocities by Pakistan in Balochistan.
The initial reaction was that it was a sort of tit-for-tat, he was subtly telling Pakistan that it should look into its backyard before accusing India of human rights violations and repression in the Valley. If Islamabad could incite people in the Valley, Delhi could do the same. It is only later we realised that it was realpolitik, his mention of Balochistan, Gilgit and Baltistan (G & B) and PoK was not just a gentle warning to Pakistan that India too could internationalize the Balochi issue but his seemingly casual reference to the territories under Pakistan triggered a paradigm change in the geopolitics of the region.
Modi did not have to send ‘22’ special envoys, as Nawaz Sharif reportedly has done or prepare long petitions to complain to the UN Security Council about Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan and the atrocities committed by it to repress dissenters, which are now known all over the world. Immediately after Modi’s reference to Balochistan in his Independence Day address, Balochis took out processions in five capitals in Europe, including Berlin and London. They shouted (and carried placards) anti-Pakistan slogans and also waved Modi’s photograph, while hailing his support for their cause—to be free from Pakistan In India, now Doordarshan has opened a new TV channel for Balochistan and allotted Rs 20,000 crore for help to Balochis who are living outside their country and other migrants from PoK and G & B. It has also been decided to invite delegates from these countries to, Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.
Modi has raised Balochistan’s hopes. Now he must deliver to what Baloch Republican Party (BRP) president Brahumdagh Bugti has appealed to India to open its door to refugees. Bugti wrote the ‘great people of India and all Hindu brothers across the world.” Bugti’s tweet was in line with a flurry of activities since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic speech from the ramparts of Red Fort. Earlier this year, the BRP appealed to civilised nations and countries, particularly the US and neighbouring India, to play their role in ending escalating human rights violations in Balochistan and support the oppressed Baloch nation’s struggle for justice, equality and freedom.
Ahmar Mustikhan Hathurati a Baloch writer, and a few others said Modi’s has kindled hope in the hearts of more than 25 million Baloch people in Balochistan and the diaspora – residing mostly in the Gulf nations but also some who have found refuge in Europe and North America, to escape imminent death in Pakistan-that seven decades of blood and tears of Balochistan may soon be replaced by the first rays of independence.
In 1988, the late Bizenjo personally pointed out what happened at the time of Partition. Bizenjo said he along with other leaders of the Kalat State National Party, the main Baloch political party at that time, went to Delhi and met with All India Congress leaders to warn them about Pakistan’s evil designs and seek their help in case of war with that country. However, Congress leaders refused to support Balochistan against an impending Pakistani occupation. Viewed in this context, Modi’s speech on Independence Day may be a sign that India, with eyes on assuming the role of a major superpower this century, is all set to correct the Nehruvian blunder of 1947.
Brahumdagh Bugti’s appeal to India to admit refugees is a big test whether India is sincere towards Balochistan’s freedom and will go the whole nine yards to reclaim the Baloch waters of the Gulf as part of the Indian Ocean, in her own long-term national interests, wrote Ahmar Mustikhan. ‘Or if Modi’s speech was simply sound and fury, signifying nothing, as tit-for-tat to Pakistan’s incitement of violence in Kashmir and India will forever remain the castrated elephant when it comes to facing Islamabad.’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declaration of support to the freedom fighters of Balochistan was not a ‘tit for tat’ move against Pakistan’s support to Kashmir separatism; it was a game changer that signified that India has finally abandoned its woolly-headed approach to Pakistan.
The usual suspects compared Modi’s sympathy for Balochs with the harm el-Sheikh moment of the previous prime minister when he ‘admitted’ Indian interference in Balochistan. Modi, on the other hand, asserted India’s intent and right to support the Balochi freedom struggle. The first one was admission of surreptitious incitement to rebellion against the State but Modi’s was open declaration of his intention to help Balochis free themselves from Pakistan.
The geopolitical situation in the world has changed fairly dramatically in the last decade or so. Persistent Pakistani support to all kind of terrorist organisations has turned international public opinion against it. The Americans no longer see Pakistan as a part of a solution, but more part of the problem itself. In India’s case, more than any other issues, continuous cross border terrorism has prompted a change in perceptions. In 2002, in wake of the armed mobilisation by India, Pakistan gave an assurance (guaranteed by the US) that its territory would not be used for attacks against India.
Pakistan has gone back on its assurance as evidenced by the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008 and the January 1-2, 2016 attack by Pakistani terrorists on the Pathankot air base. Pakistani support to the recent violent movement in Kashmir is the last straw on the camel’s back. It is noteworthy that no nation has expressed any support to the secessionists in the Kashmir valley.
Virtually every nation of the world (the Philippines, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran to name a few) faces some sort of separatist movement. No country in the world is prepared to help give birth to another version of Islamic State. Pakistan is thus isolated on the Kashmir issue. India has naturally decided to take advantage of the situation and end the interference once and for all. Modi is most unlikely to let go of such an opportunity. He also knows that with Balochistan gone, it will be fighting to keep Sindh. So it will be too preoccupied the strategic significance of India giving up the notion of a united Pakistan being in its neighbourhood will manifest in increasing the internal stress in Pakistan. Those Pakistanis who feel their nuclear weapons will save them are mistaken. When internal turmoil led to the break-up of the erstwhile USSR, its huge nuclear arsenal was of no consequence. Admitted that Balochistan is no East Pakistan. The Pakistani army does not face the kind of logistical problems it faced in the Bangladesh war. Even if it is difficult to replicate Bangladesh, India can cause sufficient turmoil in Pakistan to keep it off balance. Pakistan could checkmate Indian moves if it were to move towards a real democracy and federalism.
“Most Balochis will be satisfied with the Indian kind of federal structure of regional autonomy. But for this the Pakistani army has to relinquish its grip over the Pakistani State. Whether this happens because of some action by Modi or world pressure, it is decidedly expected. Should that actually happen, the civil leadership in Pakistan can usher in peace with India. Thus whichever way one looks at the new Indian approach, it is a win-win situation. Modi will not lightly tell the world about Balochistan with a game plan. Even if it is difficult to replicate Bangladesh, India can cause sufficient turmoil in Pakistan to keep it off balance,” says Colonel Anil A Athale (retd). Almost all Baloch leaders and activists welcomed Modi’s historic statement; Pakistan lodged cases against Bugti, London-based Hyrbyair Marri and Toronto-based Karima Baloch, president of the Baloch Students Organization Azad.
Islamabad singled out Bugti for vicious attacks, however. The Army and Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) hand-picked chief minister of Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri, who reportedly killed his elder brother Sardar Rasool Bakhsh Zehri and also allegedly killed scores of his tribesmen with his own hands, addressed public meetings and press conferences with pictures of Modi and Brahumdagh Bugti marked with a big “X”. Effigies of Modi were burnt at a rally staged by ISI stooges in Khuzdar, the same district where mass graves were discovered in early 2014.
Undeterred by Islamabad’s attacks, Brahumdagh Bugti addressed the 10th anniversary to commemorate the August 26, 2006, assassination of his grandfather Nawab Bugti. The event entitled ‘Americans Remember Shaheed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti’ was organised by American Friends of Balochistan at the National Press Club in Washington DC.
Bugti said winds of change are blowing across South Asia and Southwest Asia and that he was “thoroughly indebted” to Modi for openly condemning Pakistan for atrocities in Balochistan and for acting “to fulfil his international role of responsibility to protect, commonly called R2P, under the new norms of international law”.
He added: “States do have the right to intervene, by all possible means when a hapless people, in this case the Baloch of Balochistan, are subjected to war crimes, crimes against humanity and are facing a genocidal situation.”
Encouraged by Modi’s overture to end the plight of the Baloch people, in the same way slain premier Indira Gandhi had acted to end the plight of Bengalis of the erstwhile East Pakistan in 1971, Brahumdagh Bugti came out with an appeal to India to open its door for Baloch political refugees. Brahumdagh Bugti re-tweeted a tweet by Brajesh Misra, editor and broadcast journalist, who works for ETV and is host of @PrimeDebate: “Now @PMO India should open door for #Baloch people President of #BRP @BBugti deserves asylum in India like @Dalai Lama. Rahumdagh Bugti’s appeal to India to admit refugees is a big test whether India is sincere towards Balochistan’s freedom.
Wrote a Baloch columnist, “whether Modi’s speech was simply sound and fury, signifying nothing, as tit-for-tat to Pakistan’s incitement of violence in Kashmir or India will forever remain the castrated elephant when it comes to facing Islamabad.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declaration of support to the freedom fighters of Balochistan was not a ‘tit for tat’ move against Pakistan’s support to Kashmir separatism; it was a game changer that signified that India has finally abandoned its woolly-headed approach to Pakistan.
The military in Pakistan, the real rulers in that country most of the time, have subscribed to the view that democracy is always very fragile, and thus India cannot hold together for long and break. Sources revealed that on July 11, 1961 on a visit to the US, Ayub Khan told President John F Kennedy that the Indian divisions on caste and regional basis were too deep. “In 15 to 20 years time India would break up. In that case it is not India, but Pakistan that will be the key to stability and peace in Asia and a bulwark against the Chinese Communist threat.”
The assumption was that break-up of India into small parts would automatically make Pakistan the predominant power in South .Asia. This was the logic and hope for the Pakistani army for long. This has been so ingrained that it has now become a second nature and aspiration that dictates policies. The irony is that in ten years’ time after Ayub Khan’s assertion, in 1971, Pakistan broke up into two parts while India continues to survive and thrive. To some extent, India’s support to the Mukti Bahini in 1971 was a response to this Pakistani provocation. It was realised by many Indians that so long as East Pakistan existed, India would find it difficult to get a handle on the rebellion in the north-east.
History has indeed vindicated this view and ever since the liquidation of East Pakistan, the revolt in the north-east has indeed been brought under control. There are many in Pakistan and some even in India, who justify Pakistan’s present hostility to India as a reaction to the Indian help to the Mukti Bahini in 1971. These worthies forget that even before 1971, Pakistan has been actively working for the breakup of India and Indian help in the creation of Bangladesh itself was a reaction to Pakistani help to insurgents fighting India.
Post 1971 and a brief India-Pakistan honeymoon, the Indian establishment came to a conclusion that a ‘united, peaceful and friendly Pakistan’ on our Western flank was in the national interest. This notion had the support and encouragement of the Americans for whom the Pakistani army and State controlled by it was a pillar of its Middle-East policy. This notion was further strengthened after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US and the turmoil in Afghanistan. India was happy that it was insulated from the Afghanistan turmoil and Pakistan was a useful buffer between India and the restive Middle-East.
However, the geopolitical situation in the world has changed fairly dramatically in the last decade or so. Persistent Pakistani support to all kind of terrorist organisations has turned international public opinion against it. The Americans no longer see Pakistan as a part of a solution, but more part of the problem itself.