Ashish Mishra and Kushagra Dixit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a "huge step" by referring to the "humanitarian crisis" in Balochistan, and other world leaders should now follow to highlight the "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" in the Pakistani province, says a prominent Baloch freedom movement activist.
Mazdak Dilshad Baloch, who is in Delhi to garner support of Indians and the handful of Baloch living for the Baloch cause, says that Kashmir is India's "internal issue".
"The Prime Minister of world's largest democracy took a lead role in this movement on a historic place and on a historic day by referring to the humanitarian crisis in Balochistan. That's a huge step, and we know that other leaders will follow him," Mazdak, 25, told IANS.
Mazdak, son of prominent author-activist Naela Qadri Baloch and filmmaker Mir Ghulam Mustafa Raisaini, lives in Canada in exile along with his wife and two brothers.
The family was given asylum by Canada in 2014 after several attempts on their lives were made in Afghanistan where they reached after fleeing Pakistan in 2010.
Asked how the Kashmir issue is different from Balochistan in terms of human rights violations and his perception of India playing the Baloch card to counter Pakistan on Kashmir, Mazdak says, "Kashmir is integral part of India while Balochistan is an international issue."
"Kashmir, historically and geographically has been a part of India for hundreds of years. It has never been a free country, but Balochistan was. It had its own Parliament, a House of Commons and House of Lords. The king was there to lead, but he could not take a decision himself," he said.
"We are an occupied country which has a history of being a kingdom for 700 years. It, unlike Punjab province, is not Pakistan's internal problem -- it is an international problem."
Expecting India and other "humanitarian nations" to raise the issues of a "voiceless" Balochistan at the United Nation and pressurise Pakistan through international embargo, he says, "Either it be the Arab world, North America, European Union, United Kingdom -- all the powers around the world have to stop supporting Pakistan and put sanctions on Pakistan for all the atrocities and genocide going on in Balochistan."
Countering the western Pakistani province's Chief Minister Sanaullah Khan Zehri's claim that after Modi's statement on Balochistan there were anti-India protests in the region, Mazdak says that it was all "state-sponsored drama".
"Baloch people never took part in any such protest. It was done in a very small area. It was all state-sponsored drama as they brought Hazara, Pashtuns and Punjabi people by giving them money to take part in the so-called protest."
Welcoming Afghanistan's former President Hamid Karzai's stance on Balochistan, Mazdak says: "He stayed in Balochistan so he understands our problems. We welcome his statement. We now hope that sitting President Ashraf Ghani will officially clear Afghanistan's stance on the Baloch issue."
Mazdak's mother Naela Quadri Baloch few months back rebutted Islamabad's allegations that New Delhi was instigating separatist trouble there and urged India to intervene.
"Kashmir is an Indian internal problem and Pakistan has always put its foot to disrupt the peace process. Pakistan has been fooling India on the basis of peace talks. It is never coming to the table and never coming on the certain point to have peace in the land," Mazdak told IANS.
"The opposition and the civil society of India must support their PM's just and genuine cause. The people of Balochistan are thankful to Narendra Modi and India."
(Ashish Mishra can be contacted at email@example.com and Kushagra Dixit at firstname.lastname@example.org)