Is India fuelling unrest in Balochistan?

Published: May 5, 2015
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The writer is the author of The Economic Development of Balochistan (2004)

The writer is the author of The Economic Development of Balochistan (2004)

The brutal massacre last month of 20 innocent labourers hailing mostly from Punjab was not a novel incident. There have been several such incidents over the years in which non-Baloch labourers have been shot dead on ethnic lines. Such killings have mostly been claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which is believed to be an Indian proxy. Giving a policy statement for the first time in 2009, the former interior minister Rehman Malik had told the Senate that “India is involved in Balochistan unrest through BLA, which was established with the blessings of the defunct USSR during Afghan war in the ‘70s”.

This time again, Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti raised his accusing fingers towards India’s RAW for supporting separatists to massacre people on ethnic lines in the province.

India’s involvement in the Balochistan unrest cannot be ruled out in view of the rapidly changing geopolitics of the region. India, which has ambitions of dominating the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, is upset over China’s growing stakes in the Gwadar port. A fully-developed and functional Gwadar port near the Strait of Hormuz enables China to frustrate India’s dream of dominating regional waterways. New Delhi feels that the Gwadar port would have serious strategic implications for India. It perceives that it would empower Pakistan to control strategically important energy sea-lanes on the Persian Gulf, while India controls no choke-points on the coastline of the subcontinent through which international shipping may pass. India sees Chinese involvement in Gwadar with suspicion and believes that China wants to set up bases and outposts across the globe to monitor and safeguard energy flows.

In 2008, the Indian naval chief, Admiral Suresh Mehta, expressed concerns over the development of Gwadar port and had said, “Being only 180 nautical miles from the exit of the Straits of Hormuz, Gwadar, being built in Balochistan coast, would enable Pakistan to take control over the world energy jugular and interdiction of Indian tankers.” He said that the challenge for India was to balance relations with China in such a manner that competition for strategic significance of space in the Indian Ocean leads to cooperation rather than conflict. India is developing Iran’s Chabahar port as a competitor to Gwadar port. India’s stake in the Chabahar port is aimed at gaining access to land-locked Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics and bypassing Pakistan in transit trade with Iran and other countries.

It would not be incorrect to say that Balochistan’s troubles owe much to the geopolitics of energy resources. The players of the global energy game are trying to hold stakes in Balochistan, which is considered a strategic part of trans-national pipeline corridors. The province is the key node in the global energy game. The trans-gas pipeline projects and the construction of a seaport, an oil refinery and an oil city in Gwadar can turn Balochistan into an important energy conduit in the region. Separatist groups like the BLA in geo-strategically important ‘energy nodes’ would be the key players in a New Great Game — a power struggle for control of the region’s vast oil and gas reserves.

The viability of a fully functional Gwadar port is threatened by a worsening law and order situation in the province, which faces a host of conflicts: sectarianism, religious extremism and Baloch separatism. The separatists are involved in killing of non-Baloch settlers. Thousands of settlers have left the province in fear and moved to Punjab and other provinces over the years. How can a barber, a miner, a professor or a government servant settled in Balochistan all be usurpers of Baloch rights? The province has suffered decades of neglect and discrimination that has intensified the feeling of alienation among local people. People from every walk of life across the country have been vehemently condemning the injustices meted out to the province for decades. But no Pakistani can ever endorse violence against innocent citizens on ethnic lines in the name of the Baloch struggle by separatists.

It is time for Baloch nationalists to distinguish themselves from separatists whose activities are leading to the branding of the nationalists’ peaceful struggle for political and economic rights as a terrorist movement. The nationalists should vehemently and vociferously condemn acts of terrorism harming their peaceful constitutional struggle.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (35)

  • Grace
    May 5, 2015 - 1:00AM

    Did the author just realize this now? For years, the whole world has known that militants in Baluchistan have been supported, funded and trained by India. Most Baluchi I meet from there are all proud Pakistanis and say it is only a few sardars who are paid to create unrest. Now that more development is coming to Baluchistan, Indian agents will try harder to create unrest but it will continue to fail since most people support state. As for the 50 % Pakthun in Baluchistan, they are all with Pakistan state too.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    May 5, 2015 - 1:33AM

    Time and time again over the last dozen years plus, various Pakistani politicians have blamed India for meddling in Pakistani affairs by supporting “terrorists” via RAW agents, etc etc!
    Of course any credible proof of such interference has ALWAYS been lacking as usual!
    Compare that with Pakistan’s well known boasting of creating Jihadis “to bleed India from a thousand cuts” in Kasmir!Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    May 5, 2015 - 2:42AM

    “Pakistan or China would be able to control international shipping in international waters” Really?Recommend

  • abdul Khan
    May 5, 2015 - 2:46AM

    Only assumption! No proof! Recommend

  • Vakil
    May 5, 2015 - 3:07AM

    Wow! So much ‘credit‘ to India….? I haven’t seen so much from a proper Pakistani ‘Nationalist‘ in goodness knows how many years…!! :-)Recommend

  • Anjaan
    May 5, 2015 - 3:33AM

    The Anglo-American powers successfully denied the Russians access to warm waters from Central Asia … would they simply stand by and watch the Chinese have success where the Russians failed … ??Recommend

  • Varun
    May 5, 2015 - 4:22AM

    The author has dressed up whatever innuendo he can dream up of as the Indian view and policy, just so that he can justify his conclusions on the ‘supreme geostrategic importance’ of the place, and of India’s involvement.
    This is NOT to say that India is not involved for sure. But its more honest to say can’t-say-for-sure, rather than aim some muck at the ceiling.Recommend

  • Khattak
    May 5, 2015 - 4:36AM

    Indian are in no way as assertive as USSR. Afghans under a strategic agreement beg them to help repair the tanks, heavy artillery maintenance centre in Kabul which Afghans were willing to pay for $400 million from their own budget. But India is still holding on this request as they do not want to antagonise US & other powers. Indian are fully integrated with China meaning they have $100 billion trade & increasing. One of the most effective war on terrorism is Chinese involvement in the region by having roads, trade & industries. No molla-military alliance would dare to fire upon Chinese oil tanker or pipeline. Rather both molla & military would be happy protecting Chinese. So it would be immature to conclude that CPEC is against Indian interest therefore they would invest in BLA to undo the project. It is an opportunity for the two Punjabs to integrate economically if Gawader has to becomes viable port for Chinese. Recommend

  • R.Subramanian
    May 5, 2015 - 4:44AM

    Author’s allegation against India is based on assumption not based on solid proof.

    Even though we ordinary people of India does not like innocent people get killed but whats wrong if India involves in Balochistan, if Pakistan can give so called “diplomatic and moral” support to Kashmir terror groups, why not India give same kind of “diplomatic and moral” support to Balochistan people.

    If Pakistan can stop interfering in Kashmir then India also can stop interfering in Balochistan.

    Personally I feel India is not involved in Balochistan, if India involves then nothing wrong in it…Recommend

  • Sam
    May 5, 2015 - 4:55AM

    Extremely myopic article. On the one hand, India does not have the wherewithal to interfere in Balochistan. On the other hand, calling the Baloch, “Indian stooges” will do nothing to alleviate the problem. Pakistan does not seem to have learnt anything from its Bangladesh fiasco, but maybe Iran might have learnt something. Just like India was the mid-wife for the creation of Bangladesh, Iran might be the mid-wife for the creation of Baluchistan. Thus Iran would have extended its reach from Syria in the Northwest to Yemen on the South West to Afghanistan in the North East to Balochistan in the South West. This is roughly the shape of the Parthian empire in 250 BC.Recommend

  • raw is war
    May 5, 2015 - 7:07AM

    is that you, Riaz ul Haq?Recommend

  • SKChadha
    May 5, 2015 - 7:40AM

    India and Pakistan both are freedom loving nations. Pakistan for Kashmir and India for Baluchistan … ???Recommend

  • Cool guy
    May 5, 2015 - 8:48AM

    @Grace:

    So what’s wrong if India is formenting trouble in Pakistan. Can’t they toe the same line that Pakistan has toed for decades that we provide only political, moral & diplomatic support to Kashmir (now India to Balochistan). So it’s fair to say what goes around comes around. Let’s follow what Pak Army has followed & followed like religion. Bleed India with thousand cuts. So it’s a fair game. Let the smarter win …….Recommend

  • May 5, 2015 - 9:38AM

    No, Pakistani Military, Mullahs and Feudal are fueling instability. This not new, Pakistani Military likes instability in the country to keep power and continue their luxury life. It’s free and why would anyone give up luxury by doing nothing.Recommend

  • Dubya
    May 5, 2015 - 10:06AM

    Homework buddy … homework … just don’t shoot your mouth and get insulted …Recommend

  • ron
    May 5, 2015 - 10:48AM

    No balocH I’ve met considers himself to be Pakistani.Recommend

  • Saleem
    May 5, 2015 - 10:59AM

    Excellent article giving better picture of this situation. As always, I am surprised by the sheer number of Indians commenting on this article. They must be having local Indian papers to comment on ? Unless , it is paid Indian agency with purpose of loitering around Pakistani blog space. Otherwise you have enough local problems to comment on and you can find them in Indian papers.Recommend

  • Stranger
    May 5, 2015 - 1:26PM

    Pl stop blaming India for everything .Recommend

  • Kushal
    May 5, 2015 - 1:34PM

    Good thinking keep it up. With this type of mindset no neighbor needs to invest in money, people and ammunition to break up up Pakistan. Pakistanis like these will themselves continue to break themselves up until it reduces to Punjab only.Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    May 5, 2015 - 3:01PM

    @Saleem:
    Why don’t you command this newspaper not to publish article concerning India? If you can’t then learn to put up with us commenting on it for that is our right. And please stop whining like a little baby.Recommend

  • JusticeHunter
    May 5, 2015 - 6:20PM

    This is tit for tat strategy of forces on both sides. And what goes around, comes around.
    To begin with, the insurgency in Kashmir was all instigated by Pakistan, then India helped Bengalis to get rid, then they helped Sind. Then Pakistan almost fought the Khalistan insurgency from background and then sent terrorists in Bombay and now India is helping Balochs. So what?.
    Keep on blaming India and India will keep on blaming Pakistan. What / who is served here ……….budget for forces, more and more lethal weapons ,isn’t it. Recommend

  • 3rdRockFromTheSun
    May 5, 2015 - 6:36PM

    No evidence, no proof – just stories and conspiracies! If there is evidence, how about confronting the Indians with it? How about presenting the evidence to the US and other countries to put pressure on India? Has that been done? No! No one believes the words coming out of the Pakistani military and govt anymore.

    On the other hand, India has consistently provided evidence of Pakistani – state and non-state actors in Kashmir to Pakistan and the international community; as a result has been able to get organizations such as JuD, Let and their leaders etc on the UN’s banned list.

    @ Saleem – Now that I have posted my comment, need to follow up with RAW for the payment on this and two previous comments I made. Their accounts payable dept works really slow!Recommend

  • Junaid
    May 6, 2015 - 12:31AM

    @Cool guy:
    “So what’s wrong if India is formenting trouble in Pakistan. Can’t they toe the same line that Pakistan has toed for decades that we provide only political, moral & diplomatic support to Kashmir (now India to Balochistan).”
    Nice try, but your case is preposterous. Kashmir is UN-recognized disputed territory (thanks to your first prime minister) and there is a UN resolution on the matter (again thanks to your founding father) and your first prime minister had repeatedly assured the UN and Pakistan in writing that he would give the Kashmiri people their self-determination. Every Indian government formally recognized Pakistan as a legitimate stakeholder in the Kashmir issue, and negotiates with Pakistan over Kashmir.
    None of that applies on the situation in Balohistan, so this childish lame retort of equating Balochistan with Kashmir is so shoddy and insane you weakened your own case by posting it here.Recommend

  • Sara
    May 6, 2015 - 12:43AM

    @R.Subramanian:
    “If Pakistan can give so called “diplomatic and moral” support to Kashmir terror groups, why not India give same kind of “diplomatic and moral” support to Balochistan people.”
    Because India has always officially recognized Balochistan as a part of Pakistan, for which no UN resolution exists, while Pakistan and the UN do not recognize Kashmir as a part of India but instead recognize it as disputed territory.
    Occupied Kashmir is separated from Pakistan only by a line of control, not an international border, and even India accepts Kashmir as a left-over issue from the Partition (which it does not for Balochistan). That is why Pakistan is well within its rights under international law to sponsor an armed freedom struggle against Indian occupation, whereas India has no such right with Balochistan.
    Successive Indian governments have accepted that Pakistan is a legitimate stakeholder of the Kashmir issue and maintains a policy of bilateral negotiations with Pakistan over Kashmir. No such arrangement exists between them over Baochistan.
    Next time make a less brain-dead case for your illegal terrorism in Balochistan.Recommend

  • Alina
    May 6, 2015 - 12:44AM

    It is so hilarious to watch these Indian trolls blow their tops like hurt puppies because they’ve just been pricked where they would feel it the most. Yes, the truth hurts. #GoHomeIndianTrollsRecommend

  • numbersnumbers
    May 6, 2015 - 5:46AM

    @Sara:
    Note that @Sara has conveniently neglected to identify just which “International Law” allows Pakistan to “sponsor an armed freedom struggle against Indian occupation” in Kasmir!!!
    Probably because no such “international law” exists!Recommend

  • ali
    May 6, 2015 - 5:57AM

    “If Pakistan can give so called “diplomatic and moral” support to Kashmir terror groups, why not India give same kind of “diplomatic and moral” support to Balochistan people.”

    “If Pakistan can give so called “diplomatic and moral” support to Kashmir terror groups, why not India give same kind of “diplomatic and moral” support to Balochistan people.

    ”Even though we ordinary people of India does not like innocent people get killed but whats wrong if India involves in Balochistan, if Pakistan can give so called “diplomatic and moral” support to Kashmir terror groups, why not India give same kind of “diplomatic and moral” support to Balochistan people.”

    Pakistan needs to see the light of the day and learn to do behave a lot better.Recommend

  • SS
    May 6, 2015 - 7:58AM

    @Saleem: Internet buddy internet! It is not anyone’s property, ever heard of the word freedom?Recommend

  • Kushal
    May 6, 2015 - 1:15PM

    @Sara: Could you please care to mention under which international law Pakistan is “allowed’ to foment trouble in Kashmir? Anything in this world cannot be termed as “disputed” just because you think so. For India and rest of the world other than pakistan, the Kashmir dispute ended in 1947.Only disputes that remain is POK and Aksai Chin. Recommend

  • Raw King
    May 6, 2015 - 1:44PM

    This entire article is based on the assumption, the fact of the matter is people of Balochistan is not happy with Pakistan, hence they wanted separation from Pakistan.Recommend

  • meshuga
    May 7, 2015 - 5:35AM

    @Sam: There are certain “ancient” groups that span multiple modern political jurisdictions. Kurds are one – they are in Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. Pashtuns straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan. Baluchis are another – they straddle Iran and Pakistan. Ethnicity as a binding force is stronger than religion or some other cultural dimension. And speaking of meddling, couldn’t the Iranian branch of this ethnic group have a greater interest than furriners like Injuns and Russkies?Recommend

  • meshuga
    May 7, 2015 - 5:57AM

    @SKChadha: Except Pakistani interventions started in 1948 when the Maharajah of Kashmir, in his last ditch effort to remain independent, threw his lot with India when the Pakistani army invaded preemptively. By the way, no one seems to bring up this historical bit of injustice: Pakistan received 790,000 square miles of land – Bangladesh (East Pakistan) received just one seventh of that area even though its population was 33% larger. (This didn’t matter until 1971.) Here’s the coup de grace: The 30 million Indian Muslims (equal to the population of then West Pakistan) received nothing – except 67 years of suspicion, denigration and grief from [some of] the people they chose to stay with after Partition. In other words, there was and still is a another Pakistan within modern Independent India. Who can say that they – along with Hindu Kashmiri Pandits – do not have a greater claim to Kashmir, than beloved China has?Recommend

  • meshuga
    May 7, 2015 - 6:01AM

    @Saleem: There’s some kind of logical fallacy there (that is concluding something from something irrelevant, like number of comments).Recommend

  • Harish
    May 7, 2015 - 12:08PM

    @SS:
    Don’t kid, you should be making fun of Saleem for living in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Vibhu
    Jun 30, 2015 - 1:32AM

    @Grace: is there any proof when you say that India is involved and all rest of the world know this involvement..? There was not even a single proof / evidences ever been provided stating India’s Alleged involvement in Baluchistan. Recommend

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