Monday, August 29, 2016

The Balochistan issue 2016

A common question doing the rounds in India is the possible manner in which reactions to the reference to Balochistan (by the Indian PM in the 15th August independence day speech) will play itself out. As everyone knows, the constant meddling by Pakistan in creating unrest in Kashmir, and the handlers of Mumbai terror attack (and many more attacks) openly operating from its soil has worsened relations between the two South Asian neighbours. 

It is very unlikely that the chain of events will immediately lead to any violent skirmishes, but there is little doubt that a process to balance out perceptions has been started by India. Let us take a look at the issue in totality now.

Here is the Indian tricolour in the hands of Baloch activists in Germany. They have seized the moment to voice their concerns worldwide.
Human rights violation, Balochistan, India, Pakistan, Germany, China, Kashmir unrest, BrightSparks blog
 

We all know the strategic importance of both Balochistan as well as the CPEC passing through it and the PoK, which is an integral part of India. The debate heated up in past 5 years due to the two ports coming into limelight, and the recent trouble in Kashmir, fomented by Pakistan. The Baloch fear more oppression and resource-grabbing than earlier.
Here is the proposed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through PoK.

Here is Balochistan as shown in the map by The Economist magazine

















... and here is the flag of Balochistan's government in exile.


















China has its own problems in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province,

Kashmir, Balochistan, Xinjiang, India, Pakistan, Asia

















... and of course, a whole crisis in the South China sea where its claims are contested by almost everyone else.

South China sea, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Brunei, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines



















 (Image from The Economist)

And indeed, the Hong Kong democracy protests have raged for years now.

Hong Kong, South China sea, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Brunei, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines



In light of all this, the impact of PM Modi’s raising this issue would be a combination of the following:
  • China will be extremely careful about overtly meddling in India’s affairs unlike its behaviour in the past; it knows that it too has several skeletons the Indian government can symbolically pull out of the closet. That would be far more uncomfortable for the Chinese government which operates behind a massive firewall of restrained speech, unlike its Indian counterpart that is exposed to public and media criticism daily.
  • Pakistan will have newer fires to extinguish regularly worldwide. The non-resident Baloch community will rake up this issue everywhere, and the waving of the tricolour by these ‘rebels’ will be the most in-your-face humiliation the Pak diplomacy will now have to confront. It has an impact much deeper than what bullets can create. Remember, Balochistan is around 45% of Pak’s territory - it is an existential issue for them.
  • India has suddenly opened a new front in the Kashmir debate, and unlike almost all occasions in the past when it was playing the defensive game, it’s front foot this time. This ostensibly must have been done as we have little to lose, and politically it puts the entire opposition in a serious fix domestically. Though the long-term sustained approach yet needs to evolve.
  • Since Pakistan’s heft in all international fora is minimal and negative as compared to India’s, the more it raises this particular issue, the more difficult things will become for it. India will definitely take them head-on everywhere on this matter at least, and the manner in which opinion in the US has turned in recent years, we have little to lose.
  • The recent moves on the border by Indian defence forces (placement of Brahmos missiles and building up of military assets etc.) cannot have happened in isolation. There seems to be a concerted response the government is trying to project, perhaps something like “we’ve had enough; restrain yourself or we are ready”.
  • That an actual war will break out is a far-fetched possibility. I do not think that will happen, though quick local skirmishes are much more likely.
  • Similarly, the idea that India will actually carry out a raid or an armed attack to free Balochistan is too far-fetched. Like all strategic moves in international affairs, this too seems a mix of tactical thinking and strategic maneuvering. But to even remind the enemy of such a possibility can often have a chilling effect.
  • Of course, there must be much more happening behind the scenes that we are blissfully unaware of.
  • In the final analysis, there is no alternative to peace and cooperation for South Asia to prosper and move ahead. Animosities can take us nowhere, as India cannot be cowed down by military hardware.
So relax and enjoy the free speech India offers. Life will go on.
~

13 comments:

Narayan Harjani said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Suyash Verma said...

It is a clear indication to Pakistan & China that the dynamics of politics can change very quickly and all of a sudden India got a much needed front edge.

AMOD KUMAR said...

First of all Thumbs up for the Govt of India who for the first time in past decade has quoted something.Modi Govt has proved that this is not a puppet govt as earlier of UPA.
Pakistan has proved earlier also (In case of East bengal/bangladesh)that no one is keen to him neither his countrymen.
India Foreign policy has taken drastic turn now.Lets hope this will led to some good cause to baluchis.

AMOD KUMAR said...

First of all Thumbs up for the Govt of India who for the first time in past decade has quoted something.Modi Govt has proved that this is not a puppet govt as earlier of UPA.
Pakistan has proved earlier also (In case of East bengal/bangladesh)that no one is keen to him neither his countrymen.
India Foreign policy has taken drastic turn now.Lets hope this will led to some good cause to baluchis.

PEEYUSH SHARMA said...

Honourable Mr.Modi's kind behaviour towards balochistan is really praised worthy, as it can be helpful to us economically too (GDP). On the other hand vladimir putin's support will somehow be stop the hegemonical behaviour of China, praised worthy Mr.Modi's foreign trips.
Best PM till date.

PEEYUSH SHARMA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PEEYUSH SHARMA said...

But, as from the geopolitical point of view China won't let that happen by taking into consideration the CPEC. @amod

Saloni Bhandari said...

It is a great move by PM Modi to shift the dynamics of Indian Foreign Policy. It's like tit for tat. Now, China will also be very careful in its overt operations against India. When it comes to Baluchistan,it's not only 45% area of Pakistan but also a natural resources rich province and hence an existential threat to Pakistan!!
Also Pakistan needs to know that terrorism is like a Hydra-headed monster, you chop out it's one head & another pops out; as can be seen after the Peshawar attack.

Rohan Jagtap said...

The Balochistan issue raised by our Prime Minister and a Statesman, Narendra Modi is very much a bulls eye. He very much proved the Hindi proverb-"Ek Teer se do shikar". Those two shikar are Pakistan and China. When Modiji used the word Balochistan, it must have send shivers down the spine of both these countries for different reasons. For Pakistan, it is a issue of complete repression and domination of Balochi liberation leaders by the hands of Pakistani army. And for China, the issue is of CPEC and it's entry in Indian ocean as CPEC is one way of establishing a pearl called Gwadar port (see String of Pearls). If at all in future, the Balochistan issue raises itself in serious international issue, it will be advantage India. Let's hope for the best to all.

Regards
Rohan Jagtap

HARSHAD MAHAJAN said...

It was a brave step taken by PM Modi to address the issue of Balochistan from Red Fort during Independence day celebrations. Its good to see India Foreign Diplomatic Policy is in Attacking mode which is quite unusual. But these days in Indian Media we are reading that the statement regarding Balochistan was made by PM in the context of ongoing protest In J&K. If this is the actual thought of gov then i feel its bit wrong because if we really want to create J&K as a peace & prosperous heaven than all political parties need to come together and contribute to the welfare of the people of J&K. It can be only possible by providing high quality education, employment & facilitating more for the existing tourism industry. If the people of J&K are happy then tit will be very difficult for terrorist and separatist to brush up the minds of people.

Neeraj Kumari said...

I believe that it is a very good start by honorable PM, because India has always tried to maintain peace and even after knowing that Pakistan is feeding the terrorism in India and especially Kashmir, it have been patient and calm. Despite of hundreds of ceasefire violations by Pakistan,India never supported 'tit for tat' and always tried to respect the ceasefire regulations. Pakistan has tried to provoke India by its continuously ridiculous support to terrorism, and it is great that our PM told them that "Its enough! We can also do the same as you are continuously doing in Kashmir".

Utkarsh Singh said...

Can someone explain why is the Baluchistan Government counting on India for its freedom struggle? It could have as well depended on Western powers to raise its concern.

Sanket Yamgar said...

@U.Singh, The fundamental principle of international relations is 'ultimately every1 is worried about its own skin and nobody takes it seriously until there is some strategic gain for their own'.The simplest explanation of current reliance of baluch leaders on India other than western world is- India's complex strategic interest with pak and indias latest diplomatic stand regarding pok and Baluchistan.It is d need of west DAT 'India pak conflict remains alive gaining max benefit from both ' putting natural bar on their firm stand regarding both baluch and Kashmir.Hence its India who can emphasize on this issue.And that's exactly d reason why separatist in jk count on Pakistan.