4 minute readBaloch reference confounds Indian security officials

The reference to Balochistan in the India-Pakistan joint statement at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit at Sharm el Sheikh has not only left the opposition in Parliament furious, but also senior officials in the security establishment shaking their heads in bewilderment.

“I can’t understand why they agreed to it,” was how one senior officer reacted, referring to the Indian delegation. “Why did they have to open that door? This will simply give encouragement to the Pakistanis to try and drag us down on one more issue at every forum,” he says, adding, “Our behavior might be an open book, but that doesn’t mean we allow them an opportunity to twist it into something else. They’ll use this to give credence to their claims and try and get our consulates in Afghanistan closed down. That’s what they’re insecure about. Balochistan is just an excuse. It has nothing to do with us.”

Pakistan has accused India of fomenting trouble in the province for decades and especially during the Pakistani military crackdown on the province in the 1970s after Pakistan’s defeat by India in 1971, which led to the liberation of Bangladesh.

Dr. D. Suba Chandran, Deputy Director of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in Delhi, considers the Pakistani claims far-fetched. “If India or any other country were actually facilitating any insurgency in Balochistan the situation would be far worse for Pakistan. There’s barely any political movement or militia there. There’s virtually no propagation of ‘Balochi insurgency’ in mass media, besides a few websites. They don’t even have those ‘bogus’ newspapers that are supposed to propagate the legitimacy and credibility of such causes. The Balochistan Liberation Army is also over-rated, considering it has barely any capacity in terms of weapons and explosives to carry out an insurgency. They have no foreign support and barely any monetary support.”

He also compares the ‘insurgency’ in Balochistan with those faced by India. “Look at the northeast. There’s clear evidence of these non-state actors being supported by state actors from the way insurgencies have been fueled there. In Balochistan, there’s a clear absence of the involvement of any state actor,” he says, adding, “If it wants, a state actor can actually create serious trouble for Pakistan in Balochistan.”

“Even during the Pakistani crackdown in Balochistan in 2005 and 2006 India did nothing more than express concern at the situation in Balochistan, mainly because the composite dialogue was underway at that time and India didn’t want to rock the boat,” he explains.

“I doubt there’s any state actor involved in Balochistan,” he reiterates. “Iran, for instance, would have no interest in fueling a Baloch insurgency, especially since it has a sizable Baloch minority on its side of the border too. In fact, they’ve been building concrete barriers on their border with Pakistan to prevent smuggling.” Even in the 70s, the Shah of Iran had contributed military support to Pakistan in its suppression of the Baloch insurgency, as has been written about by Owen Bennett-Jones in his book Pakistan: Eye of the Storm.

Dr. Suba Chandran explains the Pakistani concern over Balochistan. “There is a genuine belief in Pakistan that India is behind the trouble in Balochistan, just like people there also think the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is being propped up by India and Israel,” he says.

In fact, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Geelani has already tried to turn the reference to Balochistan in the joint statement to his advantage, blaming India for ‘interference’ in Balochistan and ‘other areas’.

“This is a cheap strategy employed by Geelani,” says Dr. Suba Chandran. “It will be counter productive in the long term if he does this. It also shows the level of maturity on both sides and if Geelani tries to use this reference for narrow political purposes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be compelled to deal with Pakistan accordingly,” he warns, while admitting, “The reference in the joint statement could have been phrased better. In fact we should have said that peace in Balochistan is in India’s interest.”

He also agrees that Pakistani apprehensions about Indian influence in Afghanistan are likely at play here. “It’s the big Pakistani fear. They are insecure about the presence of Indian consulates in Afghanistan. Naturally any Indian influence – especially expanding Indian influence will undermine Pakistani influence. There is a great paranoia about this in Pakistan.”

  2 comments for “4 minute readBaloch reference confounds Indian security officials

  1. joshiskdr
    July 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    GOOD BOYS !

    In dialogues with PAK, Indian leadership has always behaved like novices,allowing PAK to take them for a ride.We still remember the way Gen Musharaf hijacked the Agra Summit by his preplanned, calculated manouvers leaving our leadership ( in fact the entire country )red faced.
    Indian leadership believes that just being on high moral ground is enough to win them these battles.Time and again it has been proved how wrong they are.It appears that either our diplomats are actually novices in the art of diplomacy or they are grossly negligent as they go to the summits unprepared. They should learn a lesson from PAK. Every time PAK has been on a sticky wicket and yet every time they pull a rabit out of the hat and come out a winner frustrating and showing our ‘great leadership’ their level of competence ( or incompetence )in fighting the battles across the table.
    All the wars fought by India ( except ’71 war which was a different game played so admirably well by Indira Gandhi) all the wars started on our soil because the enemy considered us a weekling and attacked us.If it wasn’t so,The killer blasts at Delhi, Bombay, Jaipur and other places would instead have happened at Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi or Rawalpindi, reversing the scenario and making PAK cry in pain rather than India.
    PAK has done it so many times and will continue doing it. What’s wrong if, for a change, we hit at their soft underbelly.It may be worthwhile making them taste their own blood. May be this is the only language they understand.
    IT may be worthwhile remembering that that no other country is going to fight for India which is surrounded by eniminal forces on all the sides and has hardly any friend.PAK has full support of China, America and the Muslim world. India can not count on anyone not even America ( who will go only to the extent dictated strictly by their own interests). Like Israel, we have to fight for our own interests. And for that it is essential that we shed of this F** ‘Good Boy’ image and mindset and get into the battle dress soon as possible so that no body dares taking a “Panga’ with India.It is also essential and urgent to prevent a repeat of ’62. China is itching to start chanting “Hindi-Chini, Bhai Bhai” on our borders.

    -Dr S K Joshi

  2. joshiskdr
    July 23, 2009 at 7:30 am

    GOOD BOYS !

    In dialogues with PAK, Indian leadership has always behaved like novices,allowing PAK to take them for a ride.We still remember the way Gen Musharaf hijacked the Agra Summit by his preplanned, calculated manouvers leaving our leadership ( in fact the entire country )red faced.
    Indian leadership believes that just being on high moral ground is enough to win them these battles.Time and again it has been proved how wrong they are.It appears that either our diplomats are actually novices in the art of diplomacy or they are grossly negligent as they go to the summits unprepared. They should learn a lesson from PAK. Every time PAK has been on a sticky wicket and yet every time they pull a rabit out of the hat and come out a winner frustrating and showing our ‘great leadership’ their level of competence ( or incompetence )in fighting the battles across the table.
    All the wars fought by India ( except ’71 war which was a different game played so admirably well by Indira Gandhi) all the wars started on our soil because the enemy considered us a weekling and attacked us.If it wasn’t so,The killer blasts at Delhi, Bombay, Jaipur and other places would instead have happened at Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi or Rawalpindi, reversing the scenario and making PAK cry in pain rather than India.
    PAK has done it so many times and will continue doing it. What’s wrong if, for a change, we hit at their soft underbelly.It may be worthwhile making them taste their own blood. May be this is the only language they understand.
    IT may be worthwhile remembering that that no other country is going to fight for India which is surrounded by eniminal forces on all the sides and has hardly any friend.PAK has full support of China, America and the Muslim world. India can not count on anyone not even America ( who will go only to the extent dictated strictly by their own interests). Like Israel, we have to fight for our own interests. And for that it is essential that we shed of this F** ‘Good Boy’ image and mindset and get into the battle dress soon as possible so that no body dares taking a “Panga’ with India.It is also essential and urgent to prevent a repeat of ’62. China is itching to start chanting “Hindi-Chini, Bhai Bhai” on our borders.

    -Dr S K Joshi

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