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September 10, 2016

Balochistan: The Indian Connection
India offers political asylum to Baloch secessionist leaders

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Indian government of Narinder Modi has offered political asylum to secessionist Baloch leaders, CNN-News18 reported the top Indian sources as saying. The sources said they wanted the Baloch leaders to formally apply for asylum and that this would be granted in a matter of a few weeks.

Brahmagadh Bugti, the most prominent Baloch leader, told CNN-News18 welcomed the move and called it "historic".

Bugti says the biggest difficulty for him and other Baloch leaders who are living in exile is the lack of travel documents. When granted asylum, Bugti would get an Indian passport which would enable him to travel to other countries.

Earlier in the week, Baloch activists had protested outside the U.N. headquarters in New York against what they called Pakistan's illegal occupation of Balochistan.

While replying to statements made by the Pakistani delegation on Indian-administered Kashmir during the 33rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the UN in Geneva Ajit Kumar on Wednesday brought up Balochistan.

He alleged that Pakistan systematically abused and violated the human rights of its own citizens, including in Balochistan, as well as of the people of Azad Jammu Kashmir.

The Zee News of India reported that the media is buzz with reports that Brahumdagh Bugti, grandson of Nawaz Akbar Khan Bugti, is set to get Indian citizenship. He is currently living in exile in Switzerland.

In a first for any Indian Prime Minister in an August 15 Independence Day speech, Modi referred to human rights violations in Balochistan and the Pakistan administered Kashmir.

The public reference to Balochistan by Modi was viewed as India hitting back at Pakistan for persistently raising the Kashmir issue at international forums.

Pakistan's Geo News said that the Indian government opened negotiations with Brahumdagh Bugti on granting him Indian citizenship earlier this year – much before Indian premier Narendra Modi broke his cover of supporting Baloch insurgents a month ago – after he came to the view that he may not get Swiss passport anytime soon and could be staying confined in Switzerland for an indefinite time period.

On January 16 this year, the Geo News quoted credible Baloch and Swiss sources as saying that the asylum application of the outlawed BRP leader Brahamdagh Bugti has been turned down by the Switzerland immigration authorities.

The Baloch source said that if India can give sanctuary to anti-China leader Dalai Lama then there should be no problem for Brahumdagh Bugti. He revealed that Brahumdagh Bugti is in contact with a "leading western power and the response we have received is great".

"India has facilitated Dalai Lama against the pressure from a powerful country like China. It helped Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman as well. It will help Brahumdagh and his colleagues as well. Brahumdagh has asked for Indian citizenship for himself and all his colleagues. There are 15,000 Bugtis stuck in Afghanistan. Around 2,000 are in various countries including European countries. Their asylum applications have been either approved or are in process. Brahumdagh would like all these people accommodated along with his own case," said the source.

Bugti fled his hometown Dera Bugti in Balochistan in 2006 following the assassination of his grandfather Akbar Bugti. He lived in Afghanistan as a state guest and was then flown from there to Switzerland. He reached Switzerland in late October 2010 and has been living there ever since on political asylum with his family.

The Obama administration has flatly refused to go along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's stand on Balochistan. The state department's spokesperson, John Kirby, Friday said the US "respects the unity and territorial integrity of Pakistan and we do not support independence for Balochistan".

Pakistan government has accused India of fomenting rebellion in Balochistan which has a long porous border with Afghanistan. According to Islamabad Policy Research Institute, the Indian consulate in Kandahar, a border town, provides a firm base to train, arm and dispatch militants across the border to undertake sabotage activities in Balochistan. Indian companies have been awarded contracts on various projects to link Kabul with Balochistan near Iranian border; and in the bargain it makes the job of RAW easier.

The paramilitary force, the Frontier Corps, fighting militants has seized weapons and equipment that bear Indian marking from the possession of militants killed or captured during action. Adviser to Afghan government, Ehsanullah Aryanzai, in a statement disclosed that India was using Afghan soil to conduct across the border anti-Pakistan activities. [Islamabad Policy Research Institute report on Balochistan 2010]

It is a well-known fact that India played a decisive role in the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 by covertly and overtly supporting the separatists in East Pakistan.

In the closing phase of the civil war in East Pakistan, the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, is believed to have informed India of Pakistan's willingness to discuss a timetable for the grant of complete provincial autonomy to the eastern wing and in mid-November 1971, a secret five-point peace plan is said to have been given by President General Yahya Khan to the Indian Ambassador in Islamabad. The plan included a provision for a referendum on the issue of East Pakistan's independence. Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi nevertheless declined it and her army, along with Mukti Bahni (the separatists supporting East Pakistan's bid for independence) pressed on until the Pakistani forces were forced to surrender in Dhaka on December 16. [The search for political stability by M. H. Askari, Dawn Aug. 14, 1993]

Many in Pakistan believe that the ruling elite of West Pakistan lost East Pakistan because it was located at a distance of   about 1,000 miles from West Pakistan and India supported the separatists openly. However, irrespective of the reports that India or any other power is involved in fomenting the rebellion, it will be wrong to think that the Pakistan army will be able to keep Balochistan under its control through brutal repressive measures.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America ( email: asghazali2011 (@)