Narendra Modi said something on Balochistan. He actually said something in which he also mentioned Balochistan. He said Pakistan had to answer for its crimes in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistani Kashmir and Balochistan.
It has served one thing so far. The geostrategic and defence analysts, most of whom are either retired generals or jobless civilians, got a chance to spit their expert opinion at news shows. Thus it proves Indian hand in Balochistan. I had said 30 years back that India is involved.
Some well-meaning experts would keep their voice down and try to look more well-meaning as they say: Balochistan is Pakistan’s internal matter and India has no right to interfere. It should first answer for its crimes in Kashmir.
One day I saw a video on Facebook where an Indian news anchor was dressing-down a Pakistani expert whom I had never seen before. “We’re not here to hear your lectures. You have to answer for the crimes your army is committing in Balochistan,” she shouted, her voice full of emotions for the Baloch people.
The bearded expert shouted back and tried to persuade her in a louder voice that Balochistan is the most peaceful and developed place in the world, but no one listened to the poor guy.
Next day, I saw another video of the same expert participating in the same news programme. “You’re killing the innocent Baloch and throwing their mutilated bodies. Shame on you and shame on your country,” the news anchor was more ostentatious this time.
I wondered why this expert, whose name I don’t know, doesn’t stop participating in this show. What forced him to face this sort of disrespect again and again? I also wondered hadn’t this good-looking young woman, the anchorperson, been aware about the Balochistan situation before Modi mentioned it.
The difficult part, for me, came when my political and journalistic friends began grilling me why I was silent on this important matter, as I belong from Balochistan and often write about its affairs. The problem is I can write about what’s happening in Balochistan but I don’t know how to give an expert opinion on what Pakistan or India should do or do not. Well, I might know what they should do but I know they won’t listen to me.
I know people are picked up by the military in Balochistan. A few of them were my relatives and some were my friends. A handful of lucky ones managed to be thrown alive out of running military trucks. Others were found dead with a note bearing their name in their pocket, as they couldn’t be identified otherwise. Our brave soldiers wouldn’t shy away from killing an enemy of the country, but they are civilized enough to believe that even an enemy’s body deserves to be buried in accordance with proper Islamic rites.
Indian soldiers lack this civility. They throw the enemies’ bodies in Jhelum River, never to be found and buried with proper Islamic rites. I watched Vishal Bhardwaj’s movie, Haider, with some of my family members. I noticed tears welling up in my aunt’s eyes as the movie progressed. Relatives of missing persons holding the framed pictures of their loved ones protesting here and there. Lawyers telling the relatives that they were trying their best. And then the body of the missing person is accidently found on the shores of the river. We, I and my aunt and her children, who were watching the movie, also held the framed photo of my missing uncle, her husband, at press clubs of Karachi and Islamabad. We also visited lawyers’ chambers who told us they were doing their best. Eventually, someone told us my uncle’s body had been found.
“Seems like the film is about Balochistan, isn’t it?” she said as the credits ran on the screen.
She was wrong. The Indian soldiers threw the body in the river never to be found. Our Pakistani soldiers threw the body in the mountains of Balochistan, but quite close to the Turbat city as they wanted it to be found and buried.
There is another difference between the Balochistan and Kashmir situations. Saba Dashtiyari gets killed and Vishal Bhardwaj lives? Hamid Mir gets shot and Arundati Roy doesn’t?
I don’t think Modi has ever shed a drop of tear when his security advisors showed him the pictures of mutilated bodies of the Baloch as they persuaded him to use the Balochistan card as a deterrence policy against Pakistan.
Statesmen don’t cry. They are not carried away by emotions. And Modi is known for being a man of steel. He won’t get emotional on neither Kashmir nor Balochistan. Emotional leaders don’t last long and Modi wishes to last long enough to make India a military and economic power in the world.
But what’s wrong with Pakistanis? They are wasting their time on burning Brahmdagh Bugti’s posters, filing treason cases against Hairbiyar Marri and Karima Baloch, as if the previous treason cases against them are not enough.
I don’t know if India is involved in the Balochistan unrest or not. But I know Bugti, Marri or Karima would love to be called traitors by Pakistan. It adds to their credibility among their followers.
“Why no treason charges against Allah Nazar? After all, he is fighting the Pakistani military on the ground?” a diehard follower of the Baloch militant leader asked me. He was worried that it would imply Pakistan has a soft spot for Allah Nazar and it would make him a lesser leader.
“Do you really think India is serious or it’s just a bluff,” a senior Baloch separatist leader, who had appeared on Indian news shows and thanked Modi for his mention of Balochistan, asked about my expert opinion.
“Well, I’m no expert in such matters. But Pakistan is pinching Indian’s back on Kashmir. Modi seems to want to turn the tables. That’s my hunch,” I replied.
He was disappointed. After a pause, hope returned in his voice (we were talking on phone).
“Times are changing. The world has realized Pakistan won’t stop its hooliganism. It’s exporting terrorism everywhere in the world. They must support the Baloch in their fight to create an independent Balochistan which would serve as a buffer state between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. And it’s time we tell the world Balochistan is not Pakistan’s internal matter. That it was an independent country once….” he went on and on.
I was not sure about his geostrategic analysis. But I knew Balochistan is not Pakistan’s internal problem. Why Malik Siraj Akbar had to flee Balochistan and seek asylum in the US while Basharat Peer, on whose book Haider is based, lives in the US without seeking refuge?