Recently, the caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, Anwarul Haq Kakar, called the protesting Baloch terrorists and alleged that India and its intelligence agency R&AW is funding the separatists in Balochistan. He further said that neither it is 1971, nor Balochistan is Bangladesh. Balochistan is part of Pakistan and can not be separated. His unsubstantiated allegation has called for analyzing the genesis of unrest in Balochistan and examine the credibility of his allegation.
Geography of Balochistan
Baluchistan is a province in Pakistan, which is located in the south western region of the country. It is the largest province of Pakistan by land area (44% of the total land mass of Pakistan) of which only 5% is arable and known for an extremely dry desert climate. As such the population density is the least but despite this, agriculture and livestock make up about 47% of Baluchistan’s economy. Largely underdeveloped, its economy is dominated by natural resources, especially its natural gas fields. It is bordered within the country by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the northeast, Punjab in the east, Sindh in the southeast. In the south it is bound by Arabian Sea. It shares international border with Iran in the West and Afghanistan in the North. Its terrain is plateau divided into basins by ranges of sufficient heights and ruggedness. It has the world’s largest deep sea port, Gwadar on Makran coast (western part of the Gulf of Oman). Its geographical importance lies in the fact that it is located at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz and offers the shortest route to Central Asia. Also Gwadar, the deep seaport, which Pakistan purchased from Oman in 1960 is also located in Baluchistan. It compliments Karachi port and Port Qasim for the economic development of Pakistan. However, presently it is under the administrative control of the Maritime Secretary of Pakistan and operational control of the China Overseas Port Holding Company.
Natural Resources of Balochistan– Balochistan is richly endowed with natural resources. The province possess many minerals including coal, sulphur, chromite, iron ore, barytes, marble, quartzite, and limestone. Balochistan has the largest reserves of copper and gold in the world and is also blessed with huge oil reserves. In 1953, the natural gas was discovered at the Sui area of Dera Bugti, Balochistan and Pakistan has exploited it for domestic use substantially.
Relevant History of the Region
The region came under the influence of Islam in 7th century. Khanate of Kalat was formed in 1666 CE and continued till 1948 when it was annexed by Pakistan. In the 1870, Baluchistan came under the control of the British Indian Empire. It appears that the aim of the British to control Balochistan was to provide a route to Afghanistan via Shikarpur, Jacobabad (Khangadh), Dhadar, Bolan Pass, Quetta, and Khojak Pass with a view to ensure logistics support to the “Army of Indus”. Keeping in view the relative rugged terrain of Baluchistan probably the primary interest of British in Baluchistan was of military and geopolitical in nature. As such they stationed garrisons in Baluchistan to defend the frontiers of British empire in India from any threat coming from Iran and Afghanistan.
At the time of Partition Khan of Kalat declared Independence but finally acceded to the Dominion of Pakistan on 27 March 1948, and became an integral part of Pakistan on 31 March 1948 when its request for accession was accepted by Pakistan. It needs to be noted that this decision was not universally accepted by Balochis and the insurgency continued till 1950 (more about it later).
Demography of Baluchistan
The 2017 Census enumerated a population of 12,344,408. It is 6.85% of the population of Pakistan and has been rising fast. In fact between 1998 and 2012 the rise was noted to be 139.3%. Out of 12.34 million total population of Balochistan, around 52% population is Baloch and 36% is Pashtuns while remaining 12% comprises smaller communities; Brahuis, Hazaras, Sindhis, Punjabis, Uzbeks, and Turkmens. The Pashtuns mainly inhabit the north of Balochistan and form the majority in Quetta. Baloch on the other hand are found throughout Balochistan, but most highly concentrated in the west and south of the province. Balochi-speaking people are concentrated in the sparsely populated west, east, south and southeast; Brahui speakers dominate in the centre of the province. Brahvi-speaking Tribes : Include Raisani, Shahwani, Sumulani, Sarparrah, Bangulzai, Mohammad Shahi, Lehri, Bezenjo, Mohammad Hasni, Zehri, Sarparrah, Mengal, Kurd, Sasoli, Satakzai, Lango, Rodeni, Kalmati, Jattak, Yagazehi and Qambarani, most of these tribes are bi-lingual and are quite fluent both in the Balochi and Brahvi Languages. Pashtun Tribes Include Kakar, Ghilzai Tareen, Mando Khel, Sherani, Luni, Kasi and Achakzai. In addition to indigenous communities about 321,677 Afghan citizens reside in Balochistan. After Peshawar, Quetta has the second-highest percentage of Afghan refugees. A 2005 census of Afghans in Balochistan indicated that the overwhelming majority were Pashtun, followed by Uzbeks, Tajiks, Baluchis, Hazaras and Turkmen. The three largest tribal groups are the Marri, Bugti, and Mengal tribes. One of the major outcome of geopolitical influence as also that of rise in Pashtun population the Balochi population has come down from 61% to 55.6%. This shrinking has raised certain alarm among the Balochis that in future they may become minority in their own state.
History of Insurgencies in Baluchistan
The history of insurgencies in Baluchistan includes uprisings in 1948-1950, 1958–59, 1962–63 and 1973–1977, with an ongoing low-level insurgency beginning in 2003, which is essentially spearheaded by Bugti Tribe.
- First Conflict: 1948-50- Three of the four princely states, namely; Makran, Las Bela, and Kharan acceded to Pakistan in 1947 after independence. However, the ruler of the fourth princely state, the Khan of Kalat, Ahmad Yar Khan declared Kalat’s independence as this was one of the options given to all of the 535 princely states as per the provisions of the Indian Independence Act. Kalat finally acceded to Pakistan on 27 March 1948 after a period of negotiations and bureaucratic tactics used by Pakistan. The signing of the Instrument of Accession by Ahmad Yar Khan, led his brother, Prince Abdul Karim, to revolt against his brother’s decision in July 1948. Princes Agha Abdul Karim Baloch and Muhammad Rahim, refused to lay down arms, leading the Dosht-e Jhalawan in unconventional attacks on the army until 1950. The Princes fought a lone battle without support from the rest of Balochistan.
- Second Conflict: 1958-59- One-Unit scheme to merge the four provinces of the West Pakistan into one homogenous unit with its capital at Lahore, with a view to counter-balance against the numerical superiority of the then East Pakistan was launched by the federal government of Pakistan in 1955. This policy reduced the representation of the tribal leaders in the government. Nawab Nauroz Khan, head of Zarakzai tribe and a subject of Khan of Kalat took up arms in resistance to the one Unit policy. The insurgency He and his followers started a guerrilla war against Pakistan, and were arrested, charged with treason, and imprisoned. The insurgency finished with the arrest of Nawab Nauroz Khan in 1959. In fact it was a lone battle fought by Nawab Nauroz Khan as rest of Balochistan did not support the uprising.
- Third Conflict: 1962-69- After the second conflict, a Baloch separatist movement gained momentum in the 1960s, following the introduction of a new constitution in 1956, which limited provincial autonomy and enacted the ‘One Unit’ concept of political organisation in Pakistan. Tension continued to grow amid consistent political disorder and instability at the federal level. The federal government tasked the Pakistan Army with building several new bases in key areas of Balochistan. Sher Muhammad Bijrani Marri led like-minded militants into guerrilla warfare from 1963 to 1969 by creating their own insurgent bases. Their goal was to force Pakistan to share revenue generated from the Sui gas fields with the tribal of Pakistan leaders. This insurgency ended in 1969, with the Baloch separatists agreeing to a ceasefire. In 1970 Pakistani President Yahya Khan abolished the “One Unit” policy, which led to the recognition of Balochistan as the fourth province of the then West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan).
- Fourth conflict: 1973–1977- The operation began in 1973 shortly after the elected provincial government of Balochistan was dismissed on the pretext that arms had been recovered from the Iraqi Embassy meant for Baloch rebels. The protest quickly degenerated into demand for secession. Pak Army was ordered to quell the violent protest. The operation was being led by General Tikka Khan who had earlier been in charge of operations during the Second conflict also. Baloch insurgents were led by their ‘Sardars’, Khair Baksh Marri and Attaullah Mengal through the Baluchistan People’s Liberation Front (BPLF). Operations of the Pak Army were supported by Iran, which resulted into heavy casualties. The insurgency fell into decline after a return to the four-province structure and the abolishment of the Sardari system.
- Fifth conflict, 2004–present- In early 2005, the rape of a female doctor, Shazia Khalid at the Sui gas facility re-ignited another long running conflict. The situation further deteriorated when the then Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf declared in his address on the national television that the accused was “not guilty”. The uprising initially was confined to Bugti Tribe. Baluch political leaders Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri presented a 15-point agenda to the Pakistan government. Their stated demands included greater control of the province’s resources and a moratorium on the construction of military bases. Little realising the gravity of situation Pak Army continued their operations. In August 2006, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in fighting against the Pakistan Army. Pakistan’s government charged Akbar Bugti for series of bomb blasts and rocket attacks on President Musharraf. In April 2009, Baloch National Movement president Ghulam Mohammed Baloch and two other nationalist leaders, Lala Munir and Sher Muhammad were seized and later their bullet ridden bodies were found. The discovery of the bodies sparked rioting and weeks of strikes, demonstrations, and civil resistance in cities and towns around Balochistan. On 12 August 2009, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood declared himself ruler of Balochistan and formally announced a Council for Independent Balochistan. The council’s claimed domain included Sistan and Baluchestan provinces of Iran and the Baluchistan province of Pakistan but surprisingly his claim did not include Afghan Baloch regions. The council claimed the allegiance of “all separatist leaders including that of Nawab Zada Bramdagh Bugti. Suleiman Dawood was of the view that the UK should have taken the “moral responsibility to raise the issue of Baluchistan’s illegal occupation by both Iran and Pakistan at the international level. Based on some media report it was reported that the Baloch separatists were being supported by some influential members of the Bugti Tribe and parts of the Baloch middle class. This disclosure made it clear that this insurgency was stronger than all the previous ones. No wonder it has lasted longer than previous ones. It has now resonance in rural, mountainous and city regions. Also it has caught international attention including a congressional hearing in USA in 2012. Here, it is interesting to note that in 2012 a survey was done by Gallup. One of the findings of the survey was only 37% of Baluchis and 12% Pashtuns wanted independence and 67% Baluchis preferred greater autonomy. Another aspect worth considering is that the insurgency is still not strong enough which cannot be tackled by the Pak Army. Although Pakistan has been accusing India for supporting the insurgency in Balochistan but have not been able to provide any evidence to support her claim. By 2014, it has been reported that infighting between insurgent groups has weakened the movement. As of 2018, The New York Times reported that the Pakistani state was using Islamist militants to defeat Balochi separatists. In this connection it needs to be noted that in 2011, Mark Mazzetti et all had reported in the NYT that the academics and journalists in the United States had been approached by Pakistani ISI spies, with the threat that if they spoke about the insurgency in Balochistan, as well as human rights abuses by the Pakistani Army their families would be harmed. The insurgency continues with the loss of human lives on both sides and missing personnel.
- Baluchistan Liberation Army has been designated as a terrorist organisation by Pakistan, USA and UK. Other organisations are Baluchistan Liberation Front and Lashkar-e-Baluchistan.
Cause of Insurgency in Baluchistan
Some of the major causes of unrest in Baluchistan are as follows: –
- Wide Spread Poverty– According to the United Nations Development Agency, the highest poverty rate in Pakistan is in Balochistan and it is 65%. As against this other provinces in Pakistan have poverty rates; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa- 7%; Sindh- 50% and Punjab- 25%.
- Poor Health care resulting into high IMR and MMR- The IMR in Baluchistan is 66 / 1000births and MMR is 298/ 100,000 as against the national average of 186/ 100,000 .
- Literacy Rate- It is 54.5% as against the national average of 59.13 %. Incidentally it is lowest in Pakistan.
- Economic Inequality- A majority of population lacks amenities in Balochistan. Since the mid-1970s Baluchistan’s share of Pakistan’s GDP has dropped from 4.9 to 3.7%. Sui Gas field is located in Baluchistan. Baluchistan receives Rs 32.71/ unit of gas including royalty of Rs 13.90, which she considers too less. The development of Gwadar port followed Chinese model of working wherein locals were not given any jobs. CPEC being built with Chinese help as part of latter’s BRI project is also being resented by Baluchis as an act of economic exploitation of Baluchistan’s natural resources without passing on the benefits to Baluchistan.
- Regional Inequality- Northern part of Baluchistan inhabited by Pashtuns has better road/ rail network, which has resulted into greater development resulting into economic well-being of the northern portion of Baluchistan has been a cause of resentment in the southern part of Baluchistan which is inhabited by Balochis.
Rail Network In Baluchistan Road Network in Baluchistan As can be seen There is only one railway line; Quetta Zahedan in Iran, whose last 100 km are there in Iran. As can be seen by the above two maps that the rail and road network in Southern Baluchistan is far from adequate and also it flags regional in equality.
- Erosion of Cultural values- Post commencement of the current insurgency in some cases it has been reported that the government was trying to ban the wearing of traditional Bugti turban. This only one example but Baluchis who as it is are not monolithic due to distinct tribal affinities feel further threatened due to Pashtun/ Punjabi/ now Chinese influence. Abolition of Tribal Sardari System, a quasi-democratic system prevalent in the tribes of Baluchis and which was part of their culture, was abolished in 1976 by Pakistan’s Government was not appreciated by many Baluchis.
- Migration- Continued military operations against insurgents has resulted into internal migration of Baluchis. As per UN estimates there were 84000 internally displaced persons in Baluchistan as on December 2006. These IDPs are also not willing to return. It needs to be noted that due to the historical shortage of skilled labour in Balochistan, skilled workers are often imported from other regions. Their arrival means new industries can develop, boosting the local economy; however, nationalists argue that this creates resentment amongst the local inhabitants. Migration from Afghanistan is another factor which has resulted into demographic imbalance. Here it has to be taken into account that after the invasion of erstwhile Soviet Union into Afghanistan in December 1979, around 4 million refugees from Afghanistan had arrived and settled in the Baluchistan, which has resulted in substantial demographic imbalance and consequent perceived marginalisation of locals. This has also contributed to disaffection of Baluchis with the Central Authority.
- Violation of Human Rights- It has been reported that between 2003- 2012 almost 8000 people were abducted by the Pakistan’s security forces. Since 2009, missing persons have been the victims of extrajudicial killings, with an estimated death toll of more than 2,000 Baloch. According to activists, since 2021, over 200 Baloch have been murdered in fake encounters. In 2013 Human Rights Commission of Pakistan identified ISI and the Frontier Corps as the perpetrators for many disappearances. According to Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), more than 45,000 people have fallen victim to enforced disappearances in Balochistan over the past two decades. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Al Jazeera religious extremism in Balochistan there has seen a surge. Some banned organisations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have been targeting Hindus, Shias (including Hazaras) and Zikris. As a consequence of the hate crimes of these organisations over 210,000 of these affected communities have migrated from Baluchistan. Further as a retaliation by Balochi militants, 90,000 Punjabis have been forced to move out of Baluchistan.
- Lack of representation in Pak Army- Baluch see the Army as lacking Baluch representation due to its domination by the interests of the Punjabis.
Major Reason for the Insurgency not becoming Successful
The divide among the Baluchis along the tribal lines is quite marked and many a times they are not on the same page as far as national interests are concerned. As such, the leadership of Baluch national movement remains highly fractured. In fact the Islamabad based Think tank; Jinnah Institute argues that the multiplicity of Baluch leaders with competing motivation has exacerbated the violence.
On 29 Oct 2023, one Balach Mola Baksh of Turbat was abducted by security forces and finally on 23 Nov his body was found. Initially it was a sit-in protest against the extrajudicially killing. On 06 Dec 2022, a protest march led by Baloch women from Kech District to Islamabad started with a view to make themselves heard. The march under the banner of Baloch Yakjehti Council and led by Dr Mahrang Baloch is a protest against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings that are rampant in the province. Dr Mahrang herself is victim of this rather common practice of abduction and killing as her father was abducted in 2009 and his body was found in 2011. After two weeks of sit-in at Turbat it was relocated to Quetta. However when no satisfactory response was received the protesters decided to march to Islamabad. Although initially they were subjected to repressive measures but finally based on the High Court’s intervention they were permitted to continue their protest without getting evicted. In 2014 a similar protest was led by Mama Qadeer Baloch. But this time it has greater resonance in various towns of Balochistan besides the protest march is also getting traction in Southern Punjab especially Dera Ghazi Khan and Taunsa Shareef, where there is sizable population of Baloch In fact these protests also caught imagination of many Pashtuns also as they also suffer problem of missing people. This protest is also unique in the sense that it is led by women and history is replete with examples that the movements led by women always ended in success. Regrettably this anguish of Balochis did not resonate with Pak political system. It is significant to note that, this protest is being taken note of by the international community. Be it labour MP of UK John McDonnell or Greta Thunberg, many of international figures are expressing solidarity with the protesters. Obviously it is not a good news for the Pak establishment. Their response is disappointing for an average Baloch and as such a sense of alienation among the Balochis is increasing. which if gets further accentuated will have implication for the integrity of Pakistan. Because this kind of alienation due to coercive and repressive policies of the then Pak establishment pushed Pakistan to disintegration in 1971. Whether such a disintegration will happen, or if happens when will that happen are the questions, though not realistic right now but they cannot be brushed aside and instead of blaming India and R&AW for fomenting trouble in Pakistan, Pak establishment, both; political as well as military needs to do a reality check and take appropriate measures to save the country from yet another division because they need to realise that Sind, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan are all having problems with the Pak Deep State and possibility of their dissatisfaction resulting into implosion of the country cannot be ruled out.
Geopolitical Implications of Baloch problem
Being a border province and with substantial Baluch population in neighbouring countries it is natural that events in those countries have an in influence in Baluchistan. In subsequent sub paras impact of events in Iran and Afghanistan is discussed-
Map- Showing Baluchi Homelands in the Region
- Iran– Many of Iran’s most pressing issues – in politics, the environment, the economy, health and security – converge in Sistan and Baluchestan province of Iran. The largely mountainous southeast province is one of Iran’s most strategic frontiers. It shares a nearly 200-mile border with Afghanistan and a nearly 575-mile border with Pakistan. Chabahar, Iran’s only oceanic port, is on its coast on the Gulf of Oman. Chabahar has the potential to be a key trading hub for the Middle East and South Asia also it is the start point INSTC (it is a 7200 km long multi-mode network of shipping, rail and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Russia and thereafter to Europe), a trade route to connect Iran to Russian Federation. Ethnic Baluch are concentrated in the eastern, southern, western parts of the Sistan- Baluchestan province of Iran. Iran is home to 1.5 million to 2 million Baluch, who make up about 2% of the national population but are the majority in Sistan and Baluchestan. In the 19th century (1870-72), the greater Baluchistan region, spanning Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, was divided by the British colonial power. After the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, Baluch separatists in Iran reportedly began to receive support from outside Iran. Tehran has accused the United States, Britain, Israel, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia of supporting Baluch separatists. The central authority of Iran has done little to integrate the Baluch into Iranian society. Poor socioeconomic conditions have exacerbated ethnic tensions. Since 2003, the militant Islamist group Jundallah, or “Soldiers of God,” has fought for Sunni rights. Jundallah has attacked both civilian and government targets. Tehran describes the organization as a radical terrorist and separatist organization backed by its enemies. But the fact is that even USA has designated it as a terrorist organisation since 2010. Yet another organisation which is active in Sistan and Baluchestan is, , JUA (Army of Justice) , which was formed in in 2012. It has been the most active Baluch insurgent group in Iran in recent times. JUA’s founder and leader is Salahuddin Farooqui (also known as Abdul Rahim Mulazadeh), comes from the Baluchistan province in Pakistan; he has ties to communities on both sides of the border. It needs to be noted that the Iranian armed opposition group operating in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, says it is fighting the Iranian forces to restore the rights of the Baluch and Sunnis but Iran views their demand as subversive and treat the group as a terrorist organisation. On 16 Jan Iran launched attacks Deep into Baluchistan of Pakistan in Panjgur district targeting what it described as bases for the militant group Jaish al-Adl (It is a Sunni militant and Baluchi separatist organization that operates mainly in south-eastern Iran, where there is a substantial concentration of Sunni Baluchis and a porous border with Pakistan). Pakistan described the attack as an “unprovoked violation” of its airspace. It was one of the three strikes by Iran in retaliation of the terrorist strike on Kerman on 03 Jan where 80 people had perished. Pakistan launched a retaliatory strike on 18 Jan 2024, using drones and rockets and targeted within Sistan Baluchestan province of Iran, what they claimed, bases of two Balochi separatist group, namely Baluch Liberation Army and Baluch Liberation Front . The engagement is likely to further deteriorate already tense relations between Iran and Pakistan.
- Afghanistan– In the absence of comprehensive census data, the population of Afghan Baloch is estimated to be two million. They are concentrated in the southern Afghan province of Nimroz and nearby parts of Helmand, Kandahar, and Farah provinces. The Baloch in Afghanistan are just a tiny portion of a people divided today by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their homeland, Nimroz is rugged but boasts of enormous deposits of gas, gold and copper, untapped sources of oil and uranium, as well as a thousand kilometres of coastline near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. Their problem with Iran is sharing of water of Helmand river, which Iran is trying to divert.
Map showing Alignment of Helmand river
- One of the activist recently articulated that an independent Balochistan stretching across all the areas where ethnic Baluchis stay is the dream of Baluchis spread in all three countries. It goes without saying that such a thought is not acceptable to any of the three countries. Traditionally, Baluch separatists of Pakistan had been seeking refuge in Afghanistan, especially in last decade-plus, after the killing in Pakistan of Nawab Akbar Bugti, in August 2006. Prior to the Taliban’s return, the Baluch separatists were considered the largest exiled community in Afghanistan. However, Afghanistan which was seen as place of refuge for Baluch separatists of Pakistan, who are generally secular in their political orientation, have started finding it increasingly difficult to survive there with the return of Islamist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. There are indications that some members of the Baluch exodus from Afghanistan might have bolstered the Baluch insurgency in Pakistan.
Indian Interest in Baluchistan
A point is often raised by Pak establishment that the problems in Balochistan are engineered by India. What do Pakistan’s argument on the subject. Some of the related arguments of Pakistan are following:-
- The joint statement released, post talks held between the PMs of India and Pakistan on the side lines of the Non-alignment Movement Summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh of In 2009 mentioned that both the parties had agreed to share the real-time data on any future terrorist attacks. The crucial sentence in the joint statement was,” “Prime Minister Singh said that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues.” No one was surprised when the first thing that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani did on his return to Islamabad from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt was to accuse India of interference in Balochistan. Pakistan has for long alleged that India was fomenting trouble in its restive province and that Indian consulates in Afghanistan were being misutilised for this purpose. It indeed was a blunder on the part of the Indian PM, as no evidence was furnished by Pakistan to substantiate their claim of Indian involvement in Baluchistan.
- In 2016, in his address from the Ramparts of the Red Fort on 16 Aug, in a significant shift in policy on Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a reference to the Baloch freedom struggle, saying that the people in the conflicted Pakistani state of Balochistan, as also in Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, had reached out to him.
- Pakistan has been alleging that India has been sending junior-level Intelligence officers in Baluchistan to foment trouble there. In this connection, it was alleged that the Indian Consulate at Jalalabad and Kandahar were being used for this purpose. In this connection, they quote case of Commander Kul Bhushan Jadhav. Former Indian Navy officer Commander Kul Bhushan Jadhav alias Hussain Mubarak Patel – was allegedly captured in Pakistan’s Baluchistan in April 2017. captured under the Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav(also spelt Kulbhushan Yadav, alleged) (born 16 April 1970) is an Indian national. It was alleged that he was involved in subversive activities in Pakistan and was spying for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. The Indian foreign ministry alleged he had been “kidnapped in March 2016 from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly. Although, the Indian Government recognised Jadhav as a former naval officer but denied any current links with him and maintained that he had taken premature retirement. On 10 April 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial in Pakistan. On 18 May 2017, the International Court of Justice stayed the execution pending the final judgement on the case but on 17 July 2019, the court rejected India’s appeal for Jadhav’s release and ordered Pakistan to suspend the execution. It ruled that Pakistan will have to review the entire process of trial and conviction of Kulbhushan Jadhav and provide India with consular access. Pakistan granted consular access to India, once. However subsequent requests were blocked.
- Hyrbyair Marri, the fifth son of veteran Baloch national leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and the founder of the Free Baluchistan Movement said in an interview back in November 2019, talked about why India should help Baluch people and for the freedom movement. Following are some of the things that he said while elaborating India’s benefit in the Baloch freedom movement:
- Baluchistan will be a geopolitical investment by India.
- To compete with China and other rivals, India needs more energy resources and Baluchistan can help India in that as it has vast energy resources.
- On the note of China militarizing the coastal belt of Baluchistan, Hyrbyair Marri said that Baloch people do not want to launch any aggression against any state after getting freedom. It will further work towards bringing harmony between India and China.
- Pakistan and China are building military installations in Baluchistan, while India is not doing any preparation. It will be beneficial for India if it gets help from Baloch people.
- A free Baluchistan will help the Indian state to protect the national interest in that particular region.
- The Prime Minister of the Baluchistan government-in-exile Naela Quadri in July 2023 has sought the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the United Nations (UN) for its freedom from Pakistan’s illegal occupation. She said, “Prime minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government have an opportunity today to rise in support of Baluchistan at the UN, which they may not have tomorrow,” Quadri in her interaction with the press said, “Baluchistan, which was once an independent country, is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, which is looting its mineral resources and subjecting its people to all sorts of atrocities. Baloch girls are being raped, houses and orchards are being set on fire.” She further added, “Pakistan is not doing it alone. It has also roped in China to perpetrate atrocities on the Baloch people,” Quadri said.
Above analysis confirms that the Baluch liberation movement is an indigenous movement in response of the perceived injustice done by successive generations of Pakistan State. The movement has very limited financial and armed resources, Baloch armed groups with these limited resources has inflicted heavy losses to Pakistan and China’s influence and projects in Baluchistan.
The CPEC has failed to complete in due time because of Baluch resistance .
It needs to noted that the CPEC is also not only a threat to Indian interests but also is an infringement on the Indian sovereignty as it passes through Gilgit Baltistan which is an Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s efforts to continuously blame India for fomenting trouble in Baluchistan is without any basis as in the case of Kul Bhushan Jadhav Pakistan has not been able to substantiate their allegation even ICJ has not considered the case as a credible one. The latest standoff between Iran and Pakistan debunks the theory of Indian involvement in Baluchistan as Pakistan has gone for strikes against so call terrorist hide outs in Iran from where Baluchi insurgents are claimed to be operating.
However, India needs to involve herself in Baluchistan, not supporting terrorist activities but supporting by exposing the humanitarian crisis there. That will help in building a favourable international opinion against Pakistan and isolate Pakistan not only as an epicentre of jihadi terror but also as a perpetrator of inhuman atrocities on its people and gross violator of human rights. India should also forcefully raise the issue in UNGA.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he belongs to or of the STRIVE.