Pakistan has pressed charges against the Baloch leaders who came out in support of Prime Minister Modi ’s statement about the territories that Pakistan forcibly occupies. At an all-party meet earlier this month, the Prime Minister had brought up the issue of human right violations by our terrorist neighbour in Balochistan, Gilgit-Balkistan and Pak-Occupied-Kashmir. During his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the Prime Minister spoke about how overwhelmed he had been with the response his earlier statement received from these oppressed peoples.
After the top rung of the Balochi freedom movement appreciated the concern Mr. Modi displayed, Pakistan alleged that the so-called insurgency was being funded and supported by India. Pakistan also alleged that the appreciation shown towards the statements was tantamount to inviting Indian aggression against Pakistan. The freedom fighters were charged with waging war against Pakistan.
Irrespective of whether there is an Indian hand actively at play in Balochistan, Pakistan’s entire handling of the situation is a clear indication that it is presently on the back-foot. The terrorist state had already been on the decline ever since the Modi government took office, and had attempted to escalate tensions to scuttle India’s bold new approach. But India having formally internationalized the oppression in Balochistan has had adverse implications for Pakistan.
Today, with the eyes of the world on it, all Pakistan can do is press charges against the Balochistan freedom fighters, as opposed to earlier when they were simply disposed off.
The whole debate around whether it was geopolitically savvy for Mr. Modi to bring up Balochistan or not, is fast being put to rest.
For many of us, the debate was redundant right from the start. Many media outlets published op-eds by so-called intellectuals alleging that it would be suicidal for India to take up Balochistan’s cause. Not only were these pieces devoid of logic and facts, they were full of misrepresentations as well. The underlying current of hatred towards Prime Minister Modi and aversion to the tea-seller’s highly successful statesmanship, was not lost on us. Now, the happenings on the ground are exposing these people who are permanently prepared to sell their country as long as certain ulterior objectives are fulfilled.
Their entire argument hinged on the basis that India’s foreign policy regarding Pakistan in the last seventy years has been highly successful. Although one cannot deny that there have been several high points, a basis such as this for any argument is nothing short of a joke. If the sugar coating around the two fundamental beliefs of this school are scraped off, they come down to this: that since Pakistan interferes with Kashmir, it is in fact an asset for India which we can use to play the victim card. And that since our answer to Pakistan’s bleed-India-with-a-thousand-cuts policy has always been friendly overtures and calls for more dialogue, our moral high ground is enough to isolate them globally.
Because this school believes that Kashmir is an asset with which we can play the victim card, it now believes that internationalizing the Baloch crisis will give Pakistan a similar asset with which they can cry foul over international meddling. This argument is flawed at several levels.
Firstly, the choreographed unrest in Kashmir can never be an asset for India. Since Kashmir is an integral part of India, anything short of Kashmir actually acting like it will always be a liability. Secondly, the comparison between Kashmir and Balochistan itself is dubious. India has never claimed that Balochistan belongs to it and has refused to openly advocate for an armed insurgency thus far (although advocating for an armed insurgency won’t change squat in this context).
Also, we must keep in mind that several years after the Kashmir issue was internationalized, India is still killing the Burhan Wanis of the valley and showering Pakistan’s stooges with pellets.
On the other hand, moments after the Balochistan issue was internationalized, Pakistan halted its the genocide in the region. It is now resorting to the pressing of charges against freedom fighters. The level of confidence with which countries deal with supposed insurgencies while the world watches, is an indication of how genuine the insurgencies are.
The second fundamental belief of this school is that the best response to Pakistan-backed insurgency and terrorism, is more dialogue. This allows India to attain a moral high ground, and in turn it isolates Pakistan at an international level. The first part, about India attaining a moral high ground, is true. Prime Minister Modi has used it effectively, by inviting Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration and dropping by his mansion on the way back from one of his foreign trips. But the second part, of it isolating Pakistan globally, is flawed. This notion comes from a very shallow, almost Nehruvian understanding of how geopolitics works.
Unfortunately for India, geopolitics was never about the idealism but about the strategic implications. If a corrupt nuclear military state which promotes terrorism and houses the likes of Osama Bin Laden receives aid and arms as opposed to sanctions from the global community (U.S., Russia, China), one wonders what this isolation is that India has successfully brought about in the last seventy years. What’s the point of thumping our own backs and proclaiming that nobody takes them seriously, while global powers build industrial corridors and sell them F16s?
It is no surprise that a non-confrontational, or a non-aggressive policy to deal with Pakistan is being rubbished by most serious thinkers. We are beginning to realize that we will get nowhere with this age-old menace unless we hit them where it hurts. Since we are beginning to learn from history, we must also remember what India’s zenith was in the context of Indo-Pak relations.
Without doubt, the 1971 war which left our arch-enemy broken in two pieces, was the highlight for us. We must keep in mind that our support for the forces which broke it into two, and our subsequent military intervention that sealed the deal, did not have our rivalry as its basis. India campaigned extensively against Pakistani atrocities and highlighted the large scale human rights abuse prevalent in what was then known as East Pakistan, before it jumped into the conflict itself. Four and half decades later, we see a similar pattern emerge in the context of Balochistan. The narrative being put forth makes Pakistan jittery because it can be used to justify India’s support to the freedom fighters, and even a potential intervention in the future.
Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy has been all about hitting them where it hurts. Engaging in a way that builds a rift between the political and the military establishments, retaliating disproportionately at the military level, embarrassing them on a global stage, have been some of the tactics. But if more than half the country is forcibly occupied by the military, why not use that as well? In the context of Pakistan, we must remember that there is no objectivity in the way the world deals with it. We must also understand that it will never stop being a menace as long as it is completely annihilated from the world map. Therefore, one can only hope that India’s intentions are not only to use it in irking Pakistan but breaking it.
This is what the Punjabis, the oppressors in the artificial amalgamation known as Pakistan, fear the most. There seems to have been a change of tactic, things seem to have gotten more mellow so as to avoid a retaliation.