Pakistan has strongly opposed a plea by a Baloch separatist leader for political asylum in Switzerland, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The foreign ministry has conveyed to the Swiss mission in Islamabad its reservations on the move by Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti, who also heads the Balochistan Republican Party, a splinter group of the Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP), official sources said.
Islamabad has also asked its ambassador in Berne to take up the issue with the Swiss authorities.
On a formal request from the Balochistan government, the interior ministry had asked the foreign ministry to oppose the request by Brahamdagh, a grandson of the slain Bugti chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti.
The Swiss authorities have been informed that the secessionist leader was wanted on charges of anti-state activities in Pakistan.
Brahamdagh, who secretly flew to Switzerland from Kabul along with his family and two associates last year, had submitted the application for political asylum early this year.
“Apparently Islamabad is opposed to Brahamdagh’s plea, but at the same time it is satisfied that he will not be able to stoke the Baloch insurgency from Switzerland,” a government source told The Express Tribune. “For this reason we are not demanding his extradition,” he added.
Pakistan had repeatedly said that Brahamdagh was hiding in Kabul from where he had been spearheading the Baloch insurgency. And the matter was taken up with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, when he visited Islamabad last time. He had reportedly promised to look into the matter.
“Under mounting pressure from the Pakistan government, Brahamdagh was forced by the Afghan government to leave the country,” the source said.
However, Brahamdagh’s supporters in Quetta claim that he left Afghanistan following reports that Pakistani agencies had hired an Afghan journalist to assassinate him in Kabul.
Another official source claimed that Brahamdagh possesses Indian, Afghan and Pakistani passports. “He was being funded by Indian spy agencies through Arjun Das Bugti, a close aide of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti,” the source added.
Nawab Akbar Bugti had awarded the tribal name of Bugti to local Hindus and supported Arjun Das for the office of deputy speaker of the Balochistan Assembly from the JWP platform.
Arjun had migrated to India a few years ago where he was granted Indian nationality.
If the Swiss government accepts his plea, Brahamdagh would be the third Baloch nationalist leader to get political asylum in Europe.
Earlier Britain had granted asylum to Baloch leader Hyrbyair Marri. And another Baloch nationalist, Prince Salman of Qalat, was also granted asylum in Britain where he had set up ‘Government of Balochistan in exile.’
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2011.