ISLAMABAD: The Indian prime minister’s reference to Balochistan in his Independence Day speech drew a blistering rebuke from Islamabad with the country’s top foreign policy wizard saying Narendra Modi’s toxic remarks vindicated Pakistan’s stance that New Delhi is fomenting terrorism in the volatile province.
Pakistani intelligence agencies arrested an agent of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) while crossing into Balochistan from neighbouring Iran in March this year. Kulbushan Jadhav, a senior officer of the Indian navy, confessed in a subsequent video statement that RAW was stoking unrest in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan and Karachi.
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“[Narendra] Modi’s reference to Balochistan, which is an integral part of Pakistan, only proves Pakistan’s contention that India through its main intelligence agency RAW has been fomenting terrorism in Balochistan,” Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister adviser on foreign policy, said in a statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad.
“This was also confirmed by the public confession of RAW’s active service naval officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav,” he added.
Aziz said Modi was only trying to divert world attention from the grim tragedy that has been unfolding in the Indian Kashmir over the past five weeks. The disputed Himalayan region has been gripped by a fresh wave of unrest triggered by the killing of a popular young separatist Burhan Wani on July 8.
Indian forces clamped a curfew in the disputed valley and unleashed brute force to quell the uprising, killing dozens and injuring thousands of innocent Kashmiris. However, they have failed to dent the resolve of the Kashmiri people.
“Thousands of unarmed youth are protesting every day for their right to self-determination. More than 70 innocent Kashmiris have been killed and more than 6000 injured. There is constant curfew and complete media blackout for the past 37 days,” Aziz said. “These events have nothing to do with terrorism. It is an indigenous movement for self-determination, a right promised to the Kashmiris by the UN Security Council.”
Aziz also strongly contested Modi’s assertion equating Azad Kashmir situation with the Indian controlled part. “At this time, the contrast between the Indian Occupied Kashmir and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir could not be starker.”
The foreign policy adviser said India was a large country, in fact the second largest in the world, but a large country did not automatically become a great country, especially when it unleashed such brute force against innocent citizens to suppress their right to protest or when it deliberately used pallet guns to permanently destroy the eyesight of over 100 young Kashmiris.
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“India should recognise that the core issue of Kashmir cannot be resolved by bullets. It requires a political solution, through serious negotiations between India and Pakistan.”
In a related development, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry called in India’s high commissioner Monday afternoon and handed him a letter addressed to his Indian counterpart, inviting him to visit Pakistan for talks on the Kashmir dispute that “has been the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan”.
“The letter highlights the international obligation of both the countries, India and Pakistan, to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” said a Foreign Office statement. But Pakistan’s move is unlikely to get a positive response from the neighbour as India has already made it clear that no talks could take place unless Islamabad addressed its concerns on terrorism.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2016.