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  Global Views
The Curious Case of Balochistan
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (right) shaking hands with his Pakistani counter part Yosuf Raza Gilani after declaration of joint statement at Sharm al Sheikh.

India and Pakistan issued a joint statement on the sidelines of recently concluded Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Pakistan has succeeded in mentioning the controversial issue of Balochistan in the statement. Pakistan has, since long time, accused India of “encouraging militancy and separatism” in Balochistan, while India has always refuted the charge. Even though, as propaganda or as an attempt to malign the international image of India, Pakistan has been accusing India, but the fact is that till today it hasn’t provided any proof in support of its charge. The special envoy of the US to AfPak region, Richard Holbrooke has also said that though the Pak officials have mentioned the Balochistan issue to him several times, but they haven’t shown him any proof of India’s alleged involvement.

Besides questioning the mention of Balochistan in the statement, the opposition is also accusing the Manmohan Singh government of hurriedly moving towards the bilateral dialogue despite the “inaction” of Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to book. After the return of the Prime Minister from Egypt, the Indian Parliament debated on this issue for the next three days. Consequently, the unsatisfied opposition party, led by the leader of the opposition, Lal Krishna Advani, walked out of the house, notwithstanding the repeated assurances by the Prime Minister Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minster of External Affairs S.M. Krishna that there would be no dialogue with Pakistan until & unless it takes action against the accused of the 26/11 attacks. The government also clarified that India has its hands clean on the issue of Balochistan and that we stand by our principle of non-interference in one’s internal matters. But the Prime Minister, as the leader of the world’s largest democracy and a rising global power, said that India would follow the policy of “Trust but Verify” vis-à-vis Pakistan.

Regarding this entire issue, some things seem to be self contradictory. For instance, last month the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, in a statement, acknowledged that Pakistan faces no threat from India. And this is the truth. If this was not the case, then Pakistan army wouldn’t have shifted the forces deployed on the Indian borders to the Pak-Afghan border to fight the Taliban. This trust towards India enabled the Pakistan to do so. On one hand, Pakistan is trying to show this much trust in India, and on the other, the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is mud-slinging India on the issue of Balochistan.

The purpose of Pakistan of raising finger on India on the issue of Balochistan is just to tell the world that India, which repeatedly accuses Pakistan of terror attacks there, is also involved in the secessionist activities in Pakistan. But this negative diplomacy of Pakistan is of no use. Although it can encourage the terrorist groups in Pakistan, which continuously conspire to destabilise India. The revolt in Balochistan for independence is not a decade or two old, indeed this fire is on since 1950. But, instead of controlling this fire, the Pakistani establishment always tried to create, nurture and spread terrorism in entire India including Kashmir. The similar mistake is being repeated now by accusing India.

In India, the main opposition party the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is virtually scrapped by the people of India in the recent general elections, seems much concerned about the joint statement signed in Sharm el-Sheikh. The BJP, as always, is again trying to connect this issue with “national sovereignty”. Either it is the case of the joint statement signed in Sharm el-Sheikh, or in the past, taking loan from the IMF, or the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, the BJP always sees them as “threat to India’s sovereignty”. Whether this rhetoric of the BJP is fact based or it usually does it for the political gains, the people have told it in the elections in very clear terms. But the party, empty of issues, feels that perhaps, the rhetoric on Balochistan and Mumbai attacks may give it the required “oxygen”.

In Pakistan, while the people of the ruling establishment regarding the mention of Balochistan as a diplomatic victory of Pakistan, the radical opposition parties are questioning Gilani that why he didn’t raise the issue of Kashmir, in Sharm el-Sheikh? So, the opposition to the democratically governments in both the countries is not a big issue at all. The BJP, which even once advised the government to attack Pakistan, had also led the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. During that time too there were instances when it seemed that there is no other option to deal with Pakistan other than war. But these “warriors” were then continuously trying to avoid war. Certainly, the country was also relieved when the war was evaded. Today too, the time demands that there should be harmony between the Indo-Pak government and opposition of the both countries. There should not be any feeling of interference by the neighbouring country in any part of any country, including Kashmir. Besides, Pakistan should remember that by raising the finger on others, its own blots are not going to vanish. So, it has to end the terrorism originating from there, either with the American help or it can also hope for support from India as a neighbour. If Pakistan really wants to show the world that it is serious about action against terrorism, then it can do so by first of all signing an extradition treaty with India. This would help to stop terrorism in both the countries and would also show that how committed is Pakistan to fight terrorism.

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Other Articles by Tanveer Jafri
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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes on a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.






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