How should India deal with Balochistan?
On July 24, a statement was released by a secessionist group Baloch Liberation Army(BLA) that their commander Aslam Baloch went to India without BLA’s permission and he doesn’t represent the BLA. The secretive group also emphasised that they will send their representatives to India only ‘if India makes the issue of Balochistan’s independence its state policy and support Baloch freedom struggle openly’. According to the experts, BLA is one of the oldest and most organised insurgent group fighting against Pakistan. Pakistani officials believe that an exiled political leader, Hyrbyair Marri, is leading the BLA but Mr Marri was cleared of terror charges in a British court in 2009.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, Indian media and NGOs increased their attention on Balochistan. Meanwhile many individuals travelled to India and tried to establish themselves as representative of Balochistan. Naela Quadri was one among several individuals who came to India and established a base here.
According to reliable sources, Aslam Baloch had arrived in India two months ago and he might be planning to launch a new insurgent group with the help of Naela Quadri. Quadri is believed to be offering a large sum of money to insurgents to form a new armed organisation. The statement reflects the policy of BLA that they would never allow any country to interfere in its internal affairs because they have always seen them as the sole protector of the Baloch national interests. However, the question remains that how India as a state should deal Balochistan? What should be the state policy? What kind of people should they support?
‘In the beginning, BLA was the only one, then BLF and BRA came. BLA was not geographically constrained on the other hand BLF was limited to Makuran region and BRA to Marri-Bugti Tribal areas. When you study their activities, and read their old statements it is evident that they took part in well-coordinated combined activities. Coordination was declined gradually after 2008/2009. There are many schools of thoughts with their own explanations that how it happened? One of the most accepted version is that they were unified under one command but regional leaders managed to create their own links, and for greater control, India persuaded an idea to break stronger organisations into several splinter groups. Weak and small groups resulted into less coordination and divided policies toward the enemy, in long term, it weakened the separatist movement’ argued Quetta based journalist Sarwar Ijaz.
If the Indian state and Indian people want to support Balochistan’s independence movement then it should deter state and non-state actor from interfering into their internal affairs and they should recognise that the stronger are organisations like BLA, more it would benefit Indian national interests because only a militarily capable insurgent group would be able to bring geopolitical changes in the region.
Adarsh Kumar is a freelance political journalist based in New Delhi.