Baloch activist Naela Qadri is in India again and this time she is seeking the Indian government’s help to form a Baloch government in exile.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement about highlighting the Baloch cause in the aftermath of the latest tensions between Pakistan and India on Kashmir has given a new lifeline to the Baloch separatist movement. Or, at least, it has raised hopes among Baloch activists that their cause will eventually get some international attention.
However, Ms Qadri’s demand for help to form a government in exile seems a bit far-fetched.
First, it’s not yet clear that Modi’s statement about Balochistan is part of the Indian government’s long-term policy or it’s just a bluff to put Pakistan on the defensive on the Kashmir issue. It will take Indian policymakers some time to decide on whether they will go as far as to set up a Baloch government in exile or not.
Second, Ms Qadri has no support from any powerful Baloch nationalist party. She has been campaigning on the Baloch cause on her own individual capacity.
Brahmdagh Bugti, the head of the Baloch Republican Party, tweeted that Ms Quadri didn’t represent the Baloch nation and that forming a government in exile was a national issue which needed deliberations among the major Baloch separatist parties.
Mr Bugti approached the Indian embassy in Geneva last month to apply for asylum.
Although it’s unlikely the Indian government would act on Ms Qadri’s demand, her statement has further weakened her position among Baloch nationalist leaders, as she has not taken them into confidence before issuing such a key statement.
“It’s just about getting some media attention. How can an individual form a government in exile?” said Khalil Baloch, the chief of the Baloch National Movement. “Such matters are decided with consensus.”
According to sources, Ms Qadri did indeed contact some political leaders to give her the right of representation for their parties, but she did not receive a positive response.
“How can you trust one individual? I’m not saying she is not a good person, but politics is a serious thing. It take years for political parties and leaders to build on their credibility. You can’t just come out of nowhere and say I represent a whole national,” said a senior Europe-based nationalist leader on condition of anonymity.
“She should take her time. She should keep campaigning until she gets the trust of the Baloch people.”
Another key separatist leader, Mehran Marri, the son of the late Khair Bakhsh Marri, took to Twitter to call her “arrogant” for terming herself “Durga Maa” in a video with Indian journalists.
Arrogant @NaelaQuadri proclaims herself as 'Durga Maa'. Indian media should understand, she does not represent #Balochistan. pic.twitter.com/PeQutAGtEo
— Mehran Marri (@MehranMarri) October 14, 2016
Ms Qadri has played a key role for the past few months in highlighting the Balochistan issue in the Indian media. However, it’s highly unlikely that the Indian government would seriously consider her ambitious demand for a government in exile. Nor is there any hope of her getting the support of major Baloch separatist groups.