On 15th August 2016, Prime Minister’s eagerly awaited speech from the Red Fort, once a symbol of the might and glory of the Mughal Empire had an unexpected and strong turn in it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out directly, openly, against the human rights violations in the region of Balochistan in Pakistan, breaking the stigma of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries. Though, not many know the issue of Balochistan.
The Balochistan region consists of the linguistic group called Baloch. This particular region was initially divided into 4 princely states and then forcefully acceded to Pakistan. The Balochs feel suppressed and exploited under the Pakistani control and have demanded greater autonomy, even independence from Pakistan. Balochistan is almost half of Pakistan, approximately 44%. It is strategically located, bordering Afghanistan and Iran. Also, the region is very rich in natural resources like oil, natural gas, gold and copper making it economically important for Pakistan. Though even after the presence of a wealth of resources it is the most backward and under developed region of Pakistan.
Pakistan has been fighting against the Baloch-nationalists since 1948. The Balochistan Liberation Army which has been designated as a terrorist organization by Pakistan is the most well known separatist group which is operating in the region and has been fighting against Pakistan and engaged in guerrilla warfare. In retaliation, institutions like the Inter Services Intelligence (I.S.I.) and the Pakistani Army has carried out mass atrocities on the Baloch people. Reports of bodies with burn marks, nails pulled out, broken limbs and holes drilled into heads found lying on the roads have been found.
The government of Pakistan has been repeatedly accusing the Research and Analysis Wing (R.A.W.) the foreign intelligence agency of India for instigating terrorist activities in the Balochistan issue and supporting the Balochistan nationalists. Though they haven’t been able to provide substantial proof. Balochistan Nationalist welcome P.M. Modi’s tough stand on the Balochistan issue, he is the first leader in the world to have spoken out against the conflict and human right violations that have been taking place in the region.
Though, this particular attack on the issue has brought about a new ‘low’ in the bilateral ties between the countries, after all the India hit Pakistan where it hurts the most and they are infuriated by it. India has preferred to stay away from internal matters of Pakistan, but the constant provocation of the Pakistani government over Kashmir must have reached its peak and therefore gotten a reaction out of the Indian government. India had taken the high road by not doing so, but now they have lashed out against them.
In a recent statement by Balochistan Nationalists, they have said,”The people of Balochistan want India to play the same role it played in East Pakistan.” Whether India will do so or not, only time will tell. But above all, the relations have reached a new low between the countries.