India upfront about bashing Pak for Balochistan abuses

US brands Baloch militants as terrorists; but India keeps slamming Pakistan Army’s atrocities in Balochistan, Sindh

 V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, reiterated the position of New Delhi on atrocities committed on people of Balochistan by the security agencies of Pakistan. (Image: Twitter/@MOS_MEA)

India on Wednesday indicated that it would continue to highlight the violation of human rights and atrocities by Pakistan Army on dissidents in Balochistan province of Pakistan– notwithstanding United States’ move to brand the BLA as a global terrorist organisation.

V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, reiterated the position of New Delhi on atrocities committed on people of Balochistan by the security agencies of Pakistan. He informed the Lok Sabha in a written response to a question that India had asked Pakistan “to stop targeting political dissidents and legitimate criticism in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to stop torture, enforced disappearances and unlawful killings, including those of journalists and activists, by its security agencies”.

New Delhi reaffirmed its position on atrocities on political dissidents in Balochistan province of Pakistan, just a day after the United States Department of State designated the Baloch Liberation Army as a global terrorist organisation.

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has been leading an armed rebellion that was born out of local people’s struggle for greater autonomy for Balochistan.

The government and Pakistan have often been accused by international human rights organisations of using excessive forces to crush the rebellion in Balochistan.

Islamabad has been accusing New Delhi of clandestinely providing support to the BLA in order to foment separatist movement inside Pakistan.

The BLA claimed responsibility for the terror attack on the Consulate General of China in Karachi – the capital of Sindh province of Pakistan – on November 23, 2018. This prompted Islamabad to accuse New Delhi of funding the terror attack. 

India, however, dismissed the allegation made by Pakistan. 

The US decision on Tuesday to designate the BLA as a “global terrorist organization” came ahead of a proposed visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington D.C. for a meeting with American President Donald Trump later this month. 

It is being perceived as an attempt by the Trump Administration to keep Khan's government in Islamabad in good humour to ensure its support to the peace-process the US is pursuing with the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is also being seen as a move by the US to strike a balance in its ties with India and Pakistan.

The US, earlier this year successfully led the endeavour at the United Nations Security Council to sanction terrorist leader Masood Azhar, who is based in Pakistan and whom New Delhi holds responsible for several terrorist attacks in India, including the February 14 killing of over 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Pakistan lauded the US State Department's move against the BLA, expressing hope that it would minimise the organization's space to operate. “It is important that the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and external sponsors including those glorifying these acts of terror against Pakistan are held accountable and brought to justice,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Government said in a press release issued in Islamabad. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi first publicly referred to the atrocities in Balochistan in Pakistan during a speech in New Delhi on August 12, 2016. He said that the time had come when the Pakistan government should answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against the people in Balochistan. It was a response to Pakistan's allegations against India of violation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. 

The BLA and other Baloch organizations in Pakistan have been opposing the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious cross-continental Belt and Road Initiative or the BRI. They accused Beijing of helping Islamabad exploit the natural resources of Balochistan, without ensuring adequate benefit to the indigenous people of the province. 

The CPEC will link Xinjiang in China to Gwadar Port in Pakistan.

New Delhi too is opposed to the CPEC, as it passes through areas of Jammu and Kashmir, which India claims as its integral part and accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying.

Muraleedharan on Wednesday referred to Balochistan in a written reply to a question by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member in the Lok Sabha, Subhash Chandra Baheria, on atrocities against minorities in Pakistan. 

The Minister of State for External Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that the government, from time to time, had come across reports of problems faced by members of the minority communities in Pakistan, “including those of intimidation, abduction, persecution, forced conversions and forced marriages”. 

He added that it was the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to discharge its constitutional obligations towards its citizens, including the ones from the minority communities. “Based on reports of atrocities on minorities in Pakistan, the Government (of India) has, from time to time, taken up the matter with the Government of Pakistan and asked it to take steps to protect and to promote the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities.”

He noted that India had on several occasions highlighted the human rights violations in Pakistan, including at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. “It has recommended to Pakistan, inter alia, to end forced conversions and marriages of minorities, including Hindu, Sikh and Christian women, and prosecute all cases. New Delhi also asked Islamabad to stop “to review the education curriculum, including in Madrassahs, to remove extreme prejudices, religious intolerance and historical distortions; to stop sectarian violence, systemic persecution and attacks on Muslim minorities, such as Shias, Ahmadiyas, Ismailis and Hazaras”, added Muraleedharan. 

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