January 17, 2006Foreign Affairs

Pakistan raises Balochistan at bilateral talks


This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Pakistan brought up the Balochistan issue during official bilateral talks with India. It did not allege, as Gen Musharraf and the Jam Yousaf did, that India was providing financial or material support to the Baloch insurgency. Instead, it charged India with interfering in its internal affairs.

Calibrating the issue in this manner suits Pakistan. Gen Musharraf dare not make too much of his allegations of Indian mischief in Balochistan without risking drawing attention to his own management of the insurgency. But why bring it up in bilateral talks at all? First, after all the to-ing and fro-ing through the media, Pakistan could not avoid mentioning it during bilateral talks without appearing to back off. Second, it can use this allegation to counter Indian pressure on its support for cross-border terrorism in India. And third, bringing it up now, albeit in a low-key manner, gives it the option to level more serious charges in future, especially if the situation in Balochistan gets out of hand.

In response, India must not allow Pakistan to control the thermostat. It must seize on the momentum created by its own initiative and compel Pakistan to prove its more serious allegations, and in so doing, draw international media and diplomatic attention to the bloody conflict underway in Pakistan. That may or may not help the Baloch insurgents. But the fear of exposure in Balochistan should make Musharraf a little more inclined to deliver on the commitments he made to India.

Tailpiece: The Indian media’s general lack of interest in the Balochistan conflict is unforgivable.

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