What about the Balochistan on the table?

India need not be defensive, apologetic or overly concerned about correcting Pakistan’s allegations of meddling

Yesterday’s post pointed out why the mention of Balochistan in the India-Pakistan joint statement at Sharm-el-Sheikh hurts India’s interests.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s giveaway enables Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex to distract attention from the Talibanisation of the Pakistani state, and unite the people against the old external enemy, India. It allows the military establishment to not only cite the India threat to avoid committing troops for fighting the Taliban. But also—now that the separatism in Jammu & Kashmir is petering out—use Balochistan as a pretext to provide fresh justification for long standing strategy of using terrorism to contain India.

In addition to this, it is quite likely that Pakistani officials and commentators will use Indian meddling to counter/mitigate charges of their country being a source of international terrorism. But the debating points and PR value apart, this won’t make a material difference: to the extent that Pakistani terrorists are a threat to the international community, and Baloch militants (whether supported by India or not) only threaten Pakistan, the rest of the world is unlikely to take too much notice.

It is also likely that Balochistan will figure on the bilateral diplomatic agenda—but it is unclear how Pakistan wishes to benefit from it (See M K Rasgotra’s piece). Because if Pakistan takes the position of “you stop hitting us in Balochistan and we’ll stop hitting you in Kashmir and elsewhere”, India could well say, “OK, that’s a deal.” Such a move is understandable only if the Pakistani authorities want to wind down the anti-India jihad and need a face-saving deal to sell to its own population. Since the chances of this happening are lower than that of snow in Chennai, it is unlikely that Pakistan will want to propose such a deal.

While the utility of bringing up Balochistan in the joint-statement is limited from this perspective, it is just what Pakistani government needs to tar Baloch nationalism in the eyes of the its public, and use it to carry on the ongoing, bloody repression of the Baloch population.

How should India deal with the outcome of Sharm-el-Sheikh insofar as it concerns Balochistan? First, there is no need for the Indian government to be defensive, apologetic or even too fastidious in trying to correct Pakistani allegations that it is carrying out covert operations in Balochistan. It should be fair game to respond to a proxy war by opening up another front and going on the offensive. If Pakistan protests too much, it can be told that its allegations are baseless, asked to submit evidence and made to do the very things it asks of India. If the ISI chief wants to engage with someone equivalent in India, he could be introduced to the national security advisor.

Second, since it was Mr Gilani who presented information on threats in Balochistan, it is only natural for the Indian government to begin to take official positions on the developments there. To the extent that the ferment in Balochistan is due to colonial exploitation, denial and violation of human rights, India should impress upon its dialogue partner the need to address the genuine grievances of the Baloch people. It is time for the Indian media to read up on Balochistan matters, for think-tanks to arrange workshops and seminars on the subject, and for civil society to take greater interest in what happens there. All this might sound sarcastic, but it is not. Surely, unless India does all this, how can it promote its own interests in “a stable, democratic Islamic Republic of Pakistan”?

17 thoughts on “What about the Balochistan on the table?”

  1. I wonder if MMS is being encouraged to commit these blunders just so the crown prince can step in and give us the illusion of getting things back under control.

  2. I agree that India need not be overly apologetic when it comes to the Baloch situation, but it is in my opinion a fair trade when egging Paks to take action against LeT. That assuming of course that Pak does reciprocate in kind.

    One other thing to note is that it does snow in Chennai… when people stop using Head ‘n’ Shoulders. 🙂

  3. What Pakistan is to India, Iran is to Israel. If Israel can help carve out Sistan province (west-Balochistan) from Iran, you got half of Greater Balochistan liberated. A new sovereign nation on Pakistan’s western border will then work full time to liberate the other half (with India’s help).

    It will be foolish for the Baloch to take on both Pak and Iran simultaneously. First have a base in Sistan and then launch an assault on Pak. We need the Baloch from Afganistan, Pakistan to fight alongside those in Iran.

    This is on the lines of Ralph Peters’ ‘Remapping The Middle-east’. Link to the map can be found here or here. The original article is here.

  4. Instead of Ralph Peter’s map of the world, it is time for Indians to look at the world from their perspective/interest. What the PM has done is done, but Pakistanis have also unwittingly admitted that they are fighting an insurgency in Balochistan that is spinning out of control. Add to this the news that there was a conference on Northern Areas in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, where the tribes complain of brutal treatment by the Pakistani establishment, a complaint mirrored by the Balochis.

    The common trend that is showing up is that Pakistanis are replaying their Bangladesh Experiment with the rest of their provinces, which is a good thing for India. Our best friends in the fight against Pakistanis may well be the pakistanis themselves, and their lack of ability to govern a country. India would do a far better job of providing a good quality of life to these hapless people in Balochistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and India should not be shy to provide assistance or even make it a member of the Indian “commonwealth” and help the Balochis and the Baltistanis and Gilgit tribes regain control of their own destiny instead of having it crushed under the thuggish jack boots of the Pakistani political and military establishment.

  5. In a seventies film Padosan, there is a scene where Kishore Da and Sunil Dutt both together screw Mehmood in a jugalbandi song which goes like this – Ik chatur naar badi hoshiyaar…

    Mehmood is completely confounded by Sunil Dutt who acts as a proxy to Kishore Da who does the actual singing behind him.

    Finally Mehmood is not able to take it anymore and screams – Ye kya re ghoda gadha godha gadha karta hai – Ek pe rehne ka – Ya to Ghoda bol ya to Gadha bol – Youtube Link

    While it was the hapless Mehmood in that song – here it is Indians who are bearing the brunt of Shri Manmohans emotional decision making prowess.

  6. An Indian PM named IK Gujral, back in the nineties, also in an emotional outburst of his own – had recalled all Indian assets stationed in Afghanistan as a gesture of “goodwill” against Pakistan. It is due to that fatal decision alone that we find ourselves in a soup today.

    If we had those assets present today – it would have been very possible to take out very high value targets like dawood ibrahim, chota shakeel, masood azhar, hafeez syed, lakhvi and the entire gang of these sundry reptiles hiding behind a nuclear shield that keeps them safe intact and in one piece.

    It is not as if these high value kills are irreplaceable – but there replacements would have been killed as well if we just had the assets present there.

    Shri Gujral was an emotional sentimental fool and therefore dangerous. Shri Manmohan on the other hand has just faltered in Sharm al Sheikh that might prove very costly.

    As these islamists are very big on “revenge”. Finding motives or some kind of “root cause” – and to attack civilians in non-muslim states on the basis of it is one of the prefered strategy of islamic states. Not giving them a cause as well as creating enough fear of reprisal action can act as an effective containment. Indians have failed on both counts.

    Now we just have to hunker down – wait for the next attack – and an idiot islamist coming on tv to read out the prepared text stating that this is revenge for what you are doing in Baluchistan and Kashmir.

  7. All the PM actually said is that India has nothing to hide in its actions to Balochistan — the problem is that the Pakistanis have a habit of twisting India’s words to mean that India has excused Pakistan for using Terrorism as a state policy against India. That is exactly what they have done with the PM’s frank and honest remark about Balochistan. The PM is dealing with Pakistani PM as if he is some sort of a reasonable man, instead of treating the Pakistani PM as a man with the character of a pimp or a drug dealer. This is what the Pakistani “Prime Minister” is doing to a this lady colleague of his, Ms. Sherry Rehman.


  8. I’d be more than happy if India is doing SOMETHING is Balochistan. But then again that raises an even more troubling question. Why is India not getting any tangible results for what it is doing? Maybe the issue needs more “exposure” and Baloch leaders need to be invited to New Delhi. Maybe India Today meet? These guys should talk about Pak’s genocide of Balochs, the human rights problems and Pak oppression. And how India is NOT DOING ANYTHING about it. But then again Balochistan is a “tough nut” to crack because it also involves Iranians. Maybe Pashtunistan is easier and that will facilitate Balochistan. So many different options!! Hope people in South Block are are keeping tabs on what the heck is going on in this region so that they can then shape the unfolding events according to India’s advantage.

  9. @Baloch view

    “If Israel can help carve out Sistan province (west-Balochistan) from Iran, you got half of Greater Balochistan liberated.”

    I respect your opinion but aren’t you overestimating Israeli capabilities too much? I mean even after US said they could do pretty much what they wanted to the Israelis couldn’t even take out the Iranian nuke facilities by themselves. So how can you talk about Israelis caving out Sistan from Iran? Now Osirak and Iraq is one thing. Iran is a totally different ball game. If you are talking about US involvement it is THEORETICALLY possible. But I don’t think it is practically gonna happen. I don’t think US is gonna open “one more front” in Sistan with all the things it currently has in its plate.

  10. In my opinion, Balochs (like Kurds) are an Iranian tribe and they should contribute to nation building in Iran, instead of trying to create a sovereign country. Hopefully, Iran will become a multi-ethnic democracy like India, sometime in the future.

  11. Seems like the sharm-al-shaikh sanction from manmohan has already started the process of hyphenating kashmir with baluchistan in the international press:

    can’t imagine the nyt bringing in baluchistan into an article on mumbai attacks even a month ago. Its fair game now .. thank u manmoron. I can already see the broad contours of the international coverage of any terrorist attack in india (or the baluch rebellion) for many yrs to come.. Btw, wonder how the baluch’s are feeling about all of this?

  12. @gbz

    “can’t imagine the nyt bringing in baluchistan into an article on mumbai attacks even a month ago. ”

    Big deal!! Who cares what NYT has to say. Let them call terrorists as “gunmen” and “militants”. India shouldn’t care much about what NYT thinks or says.

  13. @Arvind
    Yes i agree, who cares what nyt says. Who gives a damn to the US either.. or old-blimey britain. Or France or spain or china or UN or Japan for that matter.. Only what *we* think matters, right?

    Anyway, i think you are completely missing the larger implications of this. This is not about the nyt at all.. the nyt line only represents the larger repositioning of the issue of kashmir and sub-continental terrorism in the international arena … or the beginning of that process.

  14. If any govt involves in Balochistan, really I am happy. we should them in all aspects..dont care any body..
    long live Balochistan

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