Exiled Baloch leader Brahumdagh Bugti will travel to Switzerland's capital city Berne tomorrow to start the process of his political asylum in India. Confirming this to The News Minute (TNM) he said he hoped his papers would be processed rapidly.
"I called the Indian Embassy in Berne for an appointment. They said I do not need an appointment and that I am most welcome to meet them anytime," Bugti told TNM. "We are going tomorrow."
“This will be our first formal contact with Indian authorities in Switzerland and we are reaching out to them today,” Bugti said. The grandson of the assassinated Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti has been living in Geneva with his family. His asylum request in Switzerland has been pending without any decision for the past six years. He currently holds an Afghan passport. Bugti survived two assassination attempts in Afghanistan before making his way to the Alpine country.
Bugti told TNM his application to India has to be made in Bern and not Geneva (which houses India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations UN) « I look forward to a positive response from India – I am ready to move at the earliest, » he said adding that he hoped Indian authorities would also allow the estimated eight to ten thousand Baloch refugees who are currently living in Afghanistan to move to India.
At the time of writing, the Indian Ambassador to Switzerland was not available for comment. Neither is it clear what the procedure will be including timelines, processes and the quientessential question – what are India’s plans.
Monday’s announcement takes to another level hectic activities around the Baloch question - that of a people who are seeking independence from Pakistan. The frenetic pace of press conferences and media interviews have followed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to human rights abuses in Balochistan during his address to the Indian nation on August 15th 2016. For all practical purpose and otherwise, Modi has opened an entirely new space of diplomacy in the region which is expected to have significant consequences not only for India, but also for its neighbours. Read here.
The ball is now squarely in India’s court to act on the request. Bugti who is President of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) is seeking travel documents from India. "This will permit me to travel to other countries to make the Baloch case, highlight atrocities committed by the Pakistani army and the decimation of entire populations," Bugti said. The BRP also announced on Monday that they will file criminal cases against Pakistani generals in appropriate courts. They are also seeking backing from India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in taking China to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) only where countries and not individuals or groups, can file cases.
The move by the BRP comes at a time of heightened activity in Geneva which is the European home of the UN. The world body’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is currently in session and last week India raised the Baloch question for the first time in over 60 years. There is speculation that India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will also raise it at the General Assembly of the UN (UNGA) later this month in New York.
Earlier in an interview with TNM Bugti said Pakistan was a “rogue state” which can potentially destroy the whole world. Read here.