Islamabad, New Delhi and Kashmir


Following the Independence Day speech of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan foreign office has said that the Indian premier crossed a “red line” by discussing the internal issues of Pakistan. The statement from the foreign office comes as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is prepared to take up the matter of on-going unrest in Kashmir at the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in September. Foreign office warned that such statements from India could severely harm bilateral relations. Furthermore, the spokesperson of the foreign office Nafees Zakaria added that the statement of the Indian prime minister was in violation of the UN Charter. Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had already said in his statement that Modi’s reference to Balochistan was an admission of India’s involvement in perpetrating and financing terrorism in the province.
There is no denying the problems in Balochistan that have persisted over the decades due to the negligence of successive central governments. But Modi’s reference to Balochistan can be seen as an attempt to counter Pakistan’s “aggressive” diplomacy. The slackness on the part of the centre has given rise to the insurgencies in the province. Military operations in the region severely harmed its relations with the centre, especially following the death of Akbar Bugti during the 2006 operation. The recent statements of Brahamddagh Bugti, the grandson of Akbar Bugti who heads the Baloch Republican Party, calling for Indian help in Balochistan have been received with furore across Pakistan. The statement led to calls for the imposition of treason charges on Brahamdagh, and initiated a wave of protests across the province.
The comparison of the situation in the Indian-held Kashmir and Balochistan by the Indian prime minister is a naïve step at best. There is no occupation of Balochistan by the Pakistani authorities as compared to the reality of the Kashmir valley. Even some Indian analysts have stated that the move might strengthen Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir issue, as the comparison trivialises the complexity of the Kashmir dispute. While there have been alleged human rights violations in Balochistan, the situation in Kashmir has been worse over the decades with thousands of civilians dying in the struggle for the freedom of the region.