Who Owns Balochistan?

India may be trying to play Balochistan as a thorn in Pakistan’s side.

By Animesh Roul.

The age-old India-Pakistan rivalry is reaching new heights over another contested territory. This time, the tug of war is over the conflict-ridden region of Balochistan—the largest, resource-rich, and yet most sparsely populated province of Pakistan.

Ever since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the state of human rights violations in Balochistan during his Independence Day speech this August, the province has become a major point of contention between the two countries, as Pakistan’s poor human rights credentials were highlighted in world forums.

A couple of days earlier, at an all-party meeting on Jammu and Kashmir, Modi also raised the issue of Pakistan’s atrocities against the people of Balochistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PAK). It comes at a time when India would rather shift the spotlight off its own record in the Indian-administered sections of Kashmir. (See the article “The Kashmiri Faultline” in this issue.) Modi raised the stakes even higher by suggesting that PAK belonged to the Indian-administered regions.

Even India’s representative to the United Nations made a point of discussing Pakistan’s grave human rights violations in Balochistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, including Gilgit and PAK.

Some regional observers believe that the sudden shift in India’s Pakistan policy is directed at striking a balance, or, in other words, countering Pakistan’s concerted propaganda against India over Jammu and Kashmir. India would rather been seen to be expressing humanitarian concerns for a people oppressed in a garrison state rather than meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs. The plight of the people of …

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