The Narendra Modi government in New Delhi plans to give Indian citizenship to Baloch leader Brahumdagh Bugti, who is currently in exile in Switzerland.
The Indian Home Ministry has hinted that the concerned authorities in New Delhi will soon make a final decision in this regard after holding talks with Brahumdagh. According to sources close to the ministry, Brahumdagh’s trusted aides Sher Muhammad Bugti and Azizullah Bugti may also receive Indian citizenship, as all of them are residing in Switzerland. Brahumdagh had to leave Pakistan after Islamabad banned his Baloch Republican Party (BRP) in 2012.
Brahumdagh, who arrived in Switzerland in 2010, is no ordinary asylum seeker. According to the US Embassy cables published by WikiLeaks, Islamabad had named him “one of the most wanted, known Baloch separatists”. As expected, India’s decision annoys Pakistan and Islamabad has strongly criticised New Delhi for offering Indian citizenship to the BRP leader.
Meanwhile, the outlawed Baloch outfit has welcomed India’s decision, saying in a statement: “We will use Indian papers to travel around the world to campaign against Pakistan and to highlight our case. We have openly thanked Prime Minister Modi for his support and we are no more hiding anything. We have no other option. We do not care what our opponents think of our support for PM Modi and his support for us.”
Earlier, senior leader of troubled Pakistani province of Balochistan Mir Suleman Dawood Jan Ahmedzai congratulated Prime Minister Modi for backing the struggle of Baloch nationalists against Islamabad.
Ahmedzai, who left Pakistan a decade ago and currently in self-exile in Britain, said that India’s stand could do a lot for the people of Balochistan and they would be grateful to Prime Minister Modi, if they managed to achieve their long-sought independence from Pakistan.
Talking to an Indian national daily, the senior Baloch leader said that Prime Minister Modi rightly made “brave and long-awaited” comment on atrocities allegedly committed in Balochistan by the concerned Pak authorities. “The Baloch people are looking forward to work with the Indians and others for peace, prosperity and security in South Asia,” stressed Ahmedzai.
The exiled leader further said that a close co-operation between India and the Baloch people could of course help the latter find a peaceful solution to Pakistan’s use of terrorism as a state policy, apart from improving the regional security. “I have one plan and that is to regain independence for Balochistan, which was annexed by Pakistan at the point of a barrel PM Modi will be remembered by the Baloch nation for a long time. I have spoken to a number of tribal chiefs, leaders and people and they are all looking for peace, stability and security,” added Ahmedzai.
He also slammed the top political leadership in Islamabad, saying that the Baloch, Indian and other countries in the region became victims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Ahmedzai once again requested India to help Balochistan become a sovereign country, stressing: “India can help us at the UN and at the International Court of Justice. Together with our supporters in the US, we can at least get assets of the leading lights of Pakistan frozen, to begin with.”
At the same time, Ahmedzai assured New Delhi that a ‘free and independent’ Balochistan would help India remove the threat to it from the country’s western border. Earlier, Islamabad strongly criticised the Indian premier for commenting on rights violations in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, saying that he had crossed a “red line” while trying to divert the attention from the ongoing unrest in Kashmir.
Ahmedzai, too, believes that the issue of Balochistan should not be compared to Jammu and Kashmir. “The cynics may say that India will use Balochistan to put pressure on Pakistan to stop sponsoring terrorism in India. But Indian national security and future economic growth is dependent on an independent Balochistan,” he told the Indian daily. Ahmedzai explained that Pakistan (and China) could surround India by suppressing Baloch aspiration for independence and carrying out the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project successfully. “I believe Mr Modi is interested in India’s national interest and an independent Balochistan is in India’s national interest,” he further said, adding that nearly 25,000 people went missing in Balochistan and more than a million were displaced by the Pakistani forces in the last few years.
In a separate development, Pakistan’s state-run airline cancelled flight services to Gilgit-Baltistan on Wednesday after the aviation regulator closed airspace over the region amid tensions with neighbouring India. Senior spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Danyal Gilani attributed the cancellations to “airspace restrictions”, saying: “As per directives of Civil Aviation Authority, the airspace over Northern Areas will remain closed on Wednesday (September 21). Inconvenience regretted.”