Balochistan finds its way into joint statement, major concession by India

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Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt), July 16 (ANI): There is no running away from the fact that the Indian side has made a major concession by accepting to include the issue of Balochistan in the joint statement released after the meeting of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan.

Though the official line might be that it was just a mention in the statement that India will look into the "information that Pakistan has "on threats in Balochistan and other areas", the stunning fact is that the issue of Balochistan found its way into the statement.

Pakistan has in the past several months increased its decibel level in accusing India of meddling in Baluchistan.

Pakistan Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said recently in Parliament: "There is a conspiracy hatched against Pakistan to destablise Pakistan."

Malik said Brahamdad Bugti, a son of a Baluch rebel leader who was killed in a military operation in late 2006, was living in Kabul and he had admitted in a television interview that he was getting support from India.

"According to our intelligence, there are between 4,000 to 5,000 of our Baluch brothers who are based in Afghanistan, there are a few training centres," he said.

"We also request India to stop interfering in Baluchistan ... this is the time that we have to expose those hostile agencies, those hostile countries who are helping (the separatists)," he said.

The chief minister of Balochistan has blamed India's intelligence agencies for running training camps in Iran, Afghanistan, and even in Balochistan itself.

"Conspiracies are hatched against Balochistan by anti-Pakistan forces who do not want Gwadar port to become economic hub in the region," he has said.

He has claimed that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was running terrorist camps in Iran and Afghanistan.

"It has now set up 30 to 40 such camps in Balochistan, each with training facility for 30 people who are paid Rs.10,000 monthly," the Dawn quotes him, as saying.

"The monthly expenses of each such camp are over Rs0.4 million. The money is being supplied from abroad," he further alleged.

Till Thursday's apparent climbdown on Balochistan, India has consistently rubbished Pakistan's allegation that New Delhi was supporting violence in Balochistan as "utterly baseless and false" .

New Delhi has maintained that Pakistan has been facing a major backlash from Balochis since the killing of Baluch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti on August 26, 2006.

Islamabad, on the other hand, has rejected criticism from both New Delhi and Kabul, calling the incident an internal affair.

Bugti was killed in unclear circumstances during an attack by Pakistani security forces on his cave hideout.

Baloch nationalists and several politicians believe that the Balochistan situation has the potential to disintegrate Pakistan, unless the government deals with the Baloch anger as a priority.

A majority believe that this resentment is the result of years of economic and political negligence.

Most Baloch people believe the Pakistan government has done little to address their grievances and they are becoming increasingly sceptical about the government's sincerity to deal with their issues. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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