New Delhi: Signalling a major shift in India’s foreign policy and hitting back at Pakistan which had dedicated its Independence Day on Sunday to the “independence” of Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Balochistan in his Independence Day speech, possibly the first-time ever an Indian Prime Minister has referred to the restive Pakistani province from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Mr Modi’s move is a clear signal that India will not fight shy of playing the Baloch card to counter Pakistan’s Kashmir card.
Pakistan immediately retaliated by claiming that this proved its contention that India has been “fomenting terrorism” in the province, an allegation which has always been contemptuously dismissed by India as baseless and absurd.
Will never bow to terror: PM
By thanking the people of Balochistan and also Gilgit and other parts of PoK for sending their greetings to him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to highlight the rampant discontent in these areas against human rights violations by the Pakistani security forces.
In a veiled reference to Pakistan’s support for terrorism, Mr Modi said that while India mourned the horrific massacre in the Peshawar school terror attack, terrorists were being glorified elsewhere.
Apart from seeking to draw attention to the sorry plight of the Baloch people, India is also seeking to draw attention to the widespread discontent and recent protests in PoK including Gilgit and Baltistan.
Saying India would never bow before terrorism, Mr Modi also attacked Maoism, saying innocents were being killed and appealed to extremists to join the mainstream.
“From the Red Fort, I want to send special greetings and thank some people. In the past few days, the people of Balochistan, Gilgit, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the way they have profusely thanked me, areas which I have not even seen, those whom I have never met, those sitting far away are sending their greetings to the Prime Minister of India, it is an honour to the 125 crore people of India. So I want to thank the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK,” the Prime Minister said.
Asserting that the situation in Balochistan cannot be equated with Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz, while responding to Mr Modi’s I-Day speech, claimed that Mr Modi was only trying to divert world attention from the “grim tragedy” that has been unfolding in Kashmir over the past five weeks.
The reference to Balochistan, which is an integral part of Pakistan, “only proves Pakistan’s contention that India, through its main intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has been fomenting terrorism in Balochistan,” Mr Aziz was quoted by news agencies as saying in a Foreign Office statement from Islamabad....