Home Editorial Editorial: India’s Footprint in Balochistan

Editorial: India’s Footprint in Balochistan

Recent killings of Punjabis in Balochistan aimed at boosting ethnic strife play into the hands of foreign states seeking unrest in Pakistan

by Staff Report

File Photo. Banaras Khan—AFP

Unidentified gun last week killed seven laborers from Punjab in Sarbandan, around 25 km east of Gwadar, while they were asleep in their residential quarters. According to police, the victims hailed from Khanewal, Mian Channu and Lodhran. The incident occurred within weeks of Baloch separatists abducting nine Punjabi laborers from a bus and leaving their bullet-riddled bodies under a bridge. There is no denying the ethnic motivation behind the attack, as the attackers—belonging to the Balochistan Liberation Army—checked the identity cards of the passengers before separating only those from Punjab. This reflects the continuation of a longstanding policy of separatist groups encouraging ethnic strife, with a particular focus on Punjabis, forcing members of the ethnic group to flee the restive province in recent years.

The separatists “justify” their brutalities by claiming Punjab is to blame for the lack of development in their province. They do not bother to differentiate between tourists and settlers, even killing travelers en route to Iran. Predictably, such actions only serve to boost ethnic strife, hampering efforts to garner support for the just demands of the Baloch, who have long been victims of abductions and state-backed high-handedness. They also play right into the hands of the funders and facilitators of the separatist movement, repeatedly linked to India’s RAW spy agency. The international press has noted that “junior level Indian intelligence officers” are actively involved in such incidents, with some “boasting” they have given the Baloch “everything, from money to guns” to encourage unrest in Pakistan.

In 2019, Indian daily The Hindu reported commanders of the BLA had received treatment in India’s hospitals, often in disguise or with fake identities. In one cited example, a militant commander in charge of Khuzdar lived in Delhi for at least six months in 2017 while undergoing treatment for kidney-related ailments. Similarly, another BLA commander, Aslam Baloch, was also alleged to have visited India and met people sympathetic to separatism. In 2019, Jitendranand Saraswati, the founder of the Hind-Baloch forum, claimed Indians were actively contributing to the “freedom struggle of Balochistan.” Such statements make clear that unrest in Pakistan is being facilitated from abroad, with India playing a key role. The real danger faced by Pakistan is the India-inspired nationalism in parts of its territory.

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