India’s renewed strategy of destabilising Balochistan

India has been working to destabilise Balochistan in two ways; by sponsoring terrorism using Afghan soil, and, by inciting the Baloch dissidents abroad to carry out a movement for the province’s separation from Pakistan

As is well known, and was also acknowledged by the former US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hegel and former US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. MC Crystal, for the past many years, India has used Afghan soil to destabilize the Balochistan province of Pakistan. This was further confirmed when Pakistan arrested an Indian spy, a serving Officer of the Indian Navy, Kulbhushan Yadav from Balochistan in March 2016, who is still in Pakistan’s custody. In a televised statement, he confessed openly that he was tasked to destabilize Balochistan by supporting terrorists, and that is the primary reason he was in the province.

India has been working to destabilize Balochistan in two ways; by sponsoring terrorism using Afghan soil, and, by inciting the Baloch dissidents abroad to carry out a movement for the province’s separation from Pakistan. In this context, while India’s activities in sponsoring terrorism in Balochistan were confirmed by the apprehension and confessional statement of Kulbhushan Yadav, India’s renewed game plan to incite and support the Baloch dissidents against Pakistan is now quite clear from the fact that it is about to grant Indian citizenship to Switzerland based Brahumdagh Khan Bugti and his colleagues, currently residing in various European countries.

In the above context, according to an article by Shailaja Neelakantan that appeared in a leading Indian daily newspaper, earlier this year Brahumdagh Khan Bugti had approached Indian authorities to grant him, and several of his followers, citizenship, as he suspected that the Swiss government refused to give him nationality on the behest of the Pakistan government.

It is a historical fact that India has used the strategy of destabilizing neighbouring countries by supporting the dissident elements within, and by providing them refuge and military training for quite some time. China, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan have all faced the consequences of this malicious tactic

It should be mentioned here that Brahumdagh Bugti is the founder of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), which has been outlawed by Pakistan. He fled his hometown, Dera Bugti in Balochistan in 2006, after his grandfather Akbar Bugti became a casualty in an encounter with the security forces. Brahumdagh lived in Afghanistan first, and then went to Switzerland in October 2010. He has been living there ever since, in political asylum, with his family.

The above discussed Indian strategy of destabilizing Balochistan further came to light when, according to the above mentioned article, India inaugurated the “Free Balochistan” Office in New Delhi, on June 23 2018. The office will be run by Baloch dissidents to authenticate and promote the “Free Balochistan Movement” (FBM), with the obvious support of the RAW. They will arrange seminars, featuring foreign journalists and diplomats, on the so called “atrocities of Pakistan in Balochistan”.

These activities are nothing new for India. It is a historical fact that India has used this strategy of destabilizing neighbouring countries by supporting the dissident elements within, and by providing them refuge and military training. This happened in China, when India provided help to the Dalai Lama, it happened in Sri Lanka, where they funded the Tamil population, and it happened in East Pakistan, when Indian support led to the breakup of Pakistan, and the formation of Bangladesh. And, now, India is employing the same tactic by assisting Brahumdagh and his colleagues.

It is better that Indian leaders now recognize the fact that there is a strategic balance in South Asia and India cannot succeed in repeating the events of 1971 again. The only way out for both India and Pakistan is to seek a peaceful resolution to their mutual disputes

India’s above stated strategy is quite unique, and under Modi it has been put in to high gear, especially against Pakistan. But, the fact remains that Modi’s previous anti Pakistan strategies, by spreading propaganda against them at major world forums for the last four years, has not had any impact on Pakistan, and this new tactic will also not succeed.

Therefore, it is better that Indian leaders now recognize the fact that there is a strategic balance in South Asia and India cannot succeed in repeating the events of 1971 again. The only way out for both India and Pakistan is to seek a peaceful resolution to their mutual disputes. In this regard, it would be wise for PM Modi to accept Imran Khan’s offer for peace talks between the two nations, in order to solve problems related to Kashmir, the Indus Water Treaty, and the rising poverty levels in both states.

The writer is an ex Army Colonel, and a former Research Fellow of Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Islamabad and Senior Research Fellow, Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad

Published in Daily Times, August 21st 2018.