Indian interest in Balochistan



July 19, 2023

Indian interest in Balochistan

Uzair Ali throws light on hidden Indian designs in

Indian interest in Balochistan – By citing Balochistan India simply does not score points to malign Pakistan but Indian intentions are far deeper than that. After all, by scoring points against Pakistan by maligning it, India does a great disservice to Balochi extremist elements that are waging war against Pakistani state. Whenever India talks about Balochistan Pakistani policy makers reiterate their hard line against separatists and take countermeasures to confront their campaign.

There is certainly more in Indian intentions than meets the eye. One purpose could well be related to unnerve Pakistanis by harping on Balochistan on all possible forums and making them to go on the back foot. That surely is not a great worry for Pakistanis because they have plenty of counter claims about secessionist movements going on in India. In fact internal dissensions are not taken as seriously as during the Cold War when breaking up of large territorial units was a constant worry for the loose-knit Soviet Union which ultimately happened in 1990s. Indian propaganda in this respect is usually dismissed as its counterpoise to Pakistani demands of settling Kashmir dispute.

Another angle could be that India considers raising Balochistan issue as a paying back mechanism to Pakistan for all covert terrorist attacks perpetrated on its soil for which it routinely blames Pakistan. It has been proven many times that Indian allegations are baseless but India pursues such retaliatory policy nevertheless. It speaks volumes about the fixated policy contours of Indian policy makers who blindly follow their guidelines.

It should well be understood that tit-for-tat policy fails to pay dividends when the other side is equally equipped for countermanding it. Probably Indian policy makers view Balochistan as an excellent bargaining chip for negotiating contentious Kashmir without realising that such a policy has only a marginal utility because it really doesn’t change the strategic environment in any meaningful way. Equally importantly such policies have short shelf-life because people who are involved in it soon feel ostracized and get apprehensive about the intentions of policy makers towards them.

India surely would not support Baloch separatist cause for moral reasons as nation-state does not essentially take such a line. Moreover insurgency in Balochistan is not the first occurrence of its kind as this is the fifth time that Balochi separatists have stood up against the state. It is not a simple uprising because of its multi-pronged nature. Balochis are against Pakistani state but they also abhor Pashtuns living amongst them for centuries.

They also insist on booting out all settlers who settled there decades ago and decisively contribute towards general development of the province. Balochi tribes viciously fight amongst themselves as was borne out by Khalpars fighting their sister Bugti tribe. Balochistan is the largest area in Pakistan rich in mineral resource but the rigid entitlement syndrome of leading tribes impedes adequate exploration of its mineral wealth.

Respecting Balochi sentiment plays pivotal role in Pakistani federal policies as was indicated by cancellation of building another cantonment in Balochistan. Balochi sardars have been consistently compensated for gas extracted from their areas although such practice is nowhere followed in rest of the country. All important government assignments are filled by local residents including Balochis and Pashtuns. Such factors are enough to put cold water on any ‘moral’ consideration and India is well aware of that.

The substantial reason for India creating disturbance in Balochistan pertains to its calculated policy of creating independent Balochistan that very well suits its grand strategic designs. India aims to cut Pakistan down to size by depriving it of its largest province brimming with mineral wealth. India is aware that Balochistan lends tremendous geo-strategic importance to Pakistan in terms of its access to Sea as well as to Iran and Central Asia.

It is a concerted belief of Indian policy makers that Balochistan’s strategic relevance lies outside Pakistan and not inside it. India thinks that its geographical location will make Balochistan a strategic pivot in the region. India also expects that secular character of Balochi society will be advantageous for defeating Islamic extremism in the region. India is getting close to Iran and through this link it will be much easier for India to directly deal with Central Asia through an independent Balochistan.

Apparently Indian drive to destabilise Balochistan is in full swing. There are proofs of large scale Indian intelligence network operating in Balochistan. India gains a lot by discomfiting Pakistan in a vast rugged terrain such as Balochistan where Pakistani resources are stretched to the limit. It is indeed difficult to cogently monitor the sprawling province whose population is scarce and resources nil. It is however imperative to bring them to the table for negotiations as there are many other tribes in Balochistan and it is important to bring them to the forefront. One thing is however certain that Pakistan will not give in to Indian designs The Weekender


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