India all out to make Balochistan Pakistan’s Achilles heel
Pakistan, India and Afghanistan — the three neighbours that refuse to behave with neighbourly grace and restraint — are yet to learn how to shed undue interest in each other’s ‘state of affairs’
‘62 days of continued atrocities by the Indian occupation forces in IOK, with impunity due to international apathy, remains a matter of anguish and deep concern,’ is the line that our very dear Mr Nafees Zakaria, spokesperson foreign office, started his ‘opening remarks’ with at the weekly press briefing last week.
Mere days after, India raised the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan. Ajit Kumar, Indian ambassador to the UN office in Geneva, elaborated on ‘state of affairs’ in what Pakistanis term, time and again, a province infested with all hands foreign.
Pakistan, India and Afghanistan — the three neighbours that refuse to behave with neighbourly grace and restraint — are yet to learn how to shed undue interest in each other’s ‘state of affairs’. This time around, the new-found bonhomie between Afghanistan and India with later pledging a billion dollar financial assistance to show its ‘abiding support for a unified, sovereign, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan’ is being interpreted in Pakistan as birth of an evil nexus between a war ravaged, mercenary country and an old enemy turned regional bully.
As every wise and worldly man knows that with ‘aid’, ‘help’ and ‘assistance’ come comradeship, affection, trust and ‘sharing of interests’. The baggage of history lies heavy on Afghanistan. Being a state that has been a perennial proxy for great powers, a buffer state that either sided with or against whoever has might — or pledges money — Afghanistan once again reassured the world that it is the problem child whose antics continue unabated.
This time around, Pakistan sees President Ghani’s meeting with PM Modi as India’s attempt to box in Pakistan with help from ‘graveyard of empires’. When PM Modi mentioned Balochistan in his Independence Day address, many termed it as a blunder of epic proportions, some outright condemned it, others practiced diplomatic silence.
Now, with India going all UN on Pakistan with ‘human rights violations’ in Balochistan, PM Modi’s mentioning Balochistan in his key speech turns out to be the initiation of India’s plan to counter Pakistan’s highlighting of brutalities in Kashmir by India with Indian diplomats telling the world that Balochistan is simmering with state-sponsored oppression and if things are not fine in IoK, matters have turned horrid in one of the four provinces of Pakistan.
Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan, goes our official stance. Since time immemorial, we have been demanding that the Kashmir issue must be resolved as per the dictates of UN Security Council resolutions. The death of Burhan Wani in July brought back the Kashmir issue on the tellies and broadsheets across Pakistan. The old flame that was on the back burner with sporadic rallies featuring the usual suspects of Kashmir cause, a public holiday on 5th of February, occasional talk shows highlighting the ‘plight of poor Kashmiri brothers’ kept it alive till something new, something big, something Burhan Wani eventually kicked in.
Keeping all of the above in mind, the paradigm has shifted. No more will we hear of IoK being countered by PoK. No, dearest sirs and ma’ams, the age of countering Kashmir with Kashmir is over. From now on, in order to keep ‘balance of terror’ intact, Balochistan will be trumped up and paraded before the world whenever Pakistan goes down the Kashmir route. Now, India will counter Kashmir with Balochistan, Afghanistan, once under the influence of Pakistan, has now found new pal on the other side of former chum. ‘Now, we’ll yell at UN and the world will listen,’ is the new strategy in South Asia. The usual tit-for-tat will get more fiery as from this moment onward the same podium will be used to point out the ‘human rights violations’ by both of the midnight’s children.
Kashmir, if we dare lean on the poetic side, has turned out to be a wasteland of emotions where generation after generation from both sides of LoC has dumped their basest, vilest passions. The masses who vie for food, clothing, medicines and jobs in their day to day life get overly involved when Kashmir gets a mention. From Atoot Aaang to folks of India to Shahrag for many in our land, the paradise routinely punishes its residents with hellfire and brimstone.
What the word ‘normal’ means for India when understood in Kashmir’s background is curfew-free, relatively peaceful valley being micro-managed to weed out any nuisance of mujahideen. In other words, if it does not yell aloud and slowly bleeds — and does not make it to news headlines — things are hunky-dory.
We’ve sent dossiers and when the results weren’t satisfactory, we handpicked parliamentarians and sent them to countries in order to highlight the human rights situation in IoK. Now that is very, very classic of us; sending a score of members of parliament who’ve spent lives in mastering the intricacies of local electoral realpolitik to state capitals and expecting them to present the case of Kashmir that involves way more knowledge than many simply possess. Our career diplomats at MOFA, trained in the art and craft of diplomacy, got sidelined. I guess after the dossier debacle more passionate, more fierce, more ill-informed believers in the righteousness of the Kashmir banay gaa Pakistan cause were needed. Well, kudos, folks you’ve just found the right guys to do the job.
Let me conclude this column with a question. What prosperity awaits a nation whose three neighbours are ill at ease with it while the fourth one loves it for being a voracious market (and a satellite) that consumes (and protects) whatever it churns out (or exports through)?
I call it Pakistan, my motherland. What about you?