Hyderabad: Mr Tilak Devasher, member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), was in Hydera-bad on Sunday to give a talk on Balochistan, one of the four provinces of Pakistan, which has a history of insurgency. He was promoting his book Pakistan: The Balochistan Conundrum.
Mr Devasher noted how the Pakistani federal government ignored and misgoverned the Balo-chistan region for over 70 years. He said it was important for Indians to understand these issues. He was unclear about what Indians should do with this knowledge or what role the Indian government should play in the matter. He was equally unclear about why human rights in Balo-chistan were important for India, and why similar violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong in China weren’t. However, he did have one suggestion for Hyderabadis: tweet about Balochistan.
Mr Devesher retired as a special secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat. Later he started working as a consultant in Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), a pro-BJP right wing think-tank currently chaired by journalist and economist S Gurumurthy. In his talk, Mr Devasher spoke of the many aspects of Balochi “nationalists”. He noted how Balochistan had been independent throu-ghout its history and Balochis did not view themselves as part of British India, or later Pakistan.
“There have been five insurgencies in Baloc-histan in around 70 years since independence. This means almost every generation has fought for its freedom after losing faith in the Pakistani State. Every insurgency was crushed without ever addressing the problems of Balochi people,” he said.
Mr Devasher claimed that the people of Balochistan lived in poverty, ignored by their federal government. “The resource-rich region has been exploited and none of the benefits ever reached its people. A major portion of the natural gas produced in this region is sent to serve the rest of the nation,” he said. He also added that the Pakistani government often discredited these nationalist movements by claiming that they were sponsored by India.
That the make-up of the over 200-member crowd was right-wing was evident from the start. ‘Vande Mataram’ instead of the national anthem Jana Gana Mana kicked off the proceedings. The song was sung in its entirety and went on for nearly three minutes, ending with shouts of Bharat Mata Ki Jai.
In the Q&A session that followed, Mr Devasher was asked what India should be doing to help Baloch nationalists. Mr Devasher tread a fine line. He said the Indian government couldn’t officially do anything without breaking international law, however, the people could play a part.
“I appeal to the citizens of this country to use social media platforms for this cause. Everyone should follow five Baloch nationalists on Twitter and re-tweet their posts every day. This will reach a lot of people,” he said.
He was asked whether India could park a “medical ship” on Balochis-tan’s coast, which would help nationalists directly. This suggestion was dismissed immediately by an amused Mr Devasher.
Another questioner asked about Pakistani interference in Kashmir. “Should India deal with Balochistan in a similar way?” he asked. Mr Devasher replied that the two matters were very different. “Pakistan has exploited Balochistan, but India has invested heavily in Kashmir. They are quite different matters,” he claimed....