Pakistan cashing in on Modi’s Balochistan reference in I-Day speech


ModiPakistan has seized on Modi’s speech as evidence that India has a hand in a decades-long Baluch. separatist campaign, in which insurgents in the resource-rich yet impoverished region have launched. sporadic attacks and demanded independence. India denies the charge. A senior foreign ministry official in Islamabad said Modi had ” crossed the red line+”. Indian officials said Modi’s speech was designed to remind the world about alleged human rights abuses

by Pakistani forces in Baluchistan, just as Pakistan accuses India of abusing civilians in the disputed region of Kashmir during recent unrest. But outside Modi’s entourage, questions are being asked about what strategic reward, if any, India can

hope to gain by raising the geopolitical stakes.
“Politically, it’s much less useful in terms of Pakistan using this as evidence of Indian meddling. It

gives them ammunition,” said Daniel Markey, a South Asia expert at Johns Hopkins University in

Washington, referring to Modi’s mention of Baluchistan.
But he added: “There is a strategic utility in looking a little unhinged, in sending that message.”
A New Delhi-based diplomat from a major power with traditionally close ties to India said it will only

escalate tension.
DETERIORATING RELATIONS
Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since the killing+ of a separatist leader in

Indian-ruled Kashmir on July 8 sparked the worst violence in the disputed territory in six years.
At least 66 protesters and two security personnel have been killed and thousands wounded on both

sides, according to official state figures.
India blames Pakistan for failing to stop militants crossing the heavily militarised de facto border

between them and attacking Indian security forces. Pakistan denies this.
Two senior Indian officials said Modi had become frustrated with Pakistan’s latest attempt to draw

wide international attention to the Kashmir question and the current clampdown, and to take the matter

to the United Nations.
“Dealing with militancy is our internal issue and we will not tolerate any other country’s

interference,” said one of the officials, from Modi’s nationalist ruling party, who is closely

involved in regional policy.
At the August meeting, Parrikar, the defence minister, also said that by raising Baluchistan, Modi

would be highlighting China’s role in unrest in the region, said the official present.
The reference to China reflects Indian unease at Beijing’s backing of a $46 billion trade corridor

running through land in northeast Pakistan that New Delhi claims, onward through Baluchistan to the

port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea coast.
Some of the Baluch separatist leaders who praised Modi before his address worry that their battle for

a homeland will become a political football between the South Asian neighbours.
“If India’s support is just a reaction to the politics and to Kashmir, then it could damage the

political struggle,” said Geneva-based Baloch Republican Party leader Brahamdagh Bugti.
He said New Delhi had rejected his application for Indian asylum in 2007.

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