Tag Archives: CPEC

India of 2017 will resist China’s old encroachment strategy: Both need adjustment to realities

Major General S B Asthana, SM, VSM

Photo shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, before the BRICS Summit, in Goa on October 15, 2016

Tom McGregor, CCTV.com commentator and editor, based in Beijing in Sputniknews,  June 29, 2017, observes that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stand tall as charismatic leaders, who seek to lead their nations with patriotic sentiments. Beijing and New Delhi see themselves as giants in Asia, but the nationalist self-confidence from both sides may ignite a heated rivalry in which bilateral relations could deteriorate.

The recent Face-off in strategically important India-China-Bhutan border triangle near Doklam Plateau, with Chinese road construction activity in Bhutanese territory (As per laid down agreements and treaties), obstruction by Indian troops and destruction of two Indian bunkers, has been widely discussed and analysed. An effort is being made to address certain unaddressed questions and  a possible way forward.

While the diplomats of China and India have been claiming to their respective countries, that talks to reach an agreement demarcating the border between both countries have been going on smoothly for so many decades, and continue to claim so, the reality is that unlike LC (between India and Pakistan, identifiable on ground), the Line of Actual Control (LAC between India and China, is not finalised and demarcated on ground. The troops of both sides continue to patrol the areas as per their own perception of LAC, which clashes with each others’ perception leading to claims and counterclaims of transgression from both sides quite frequently (a fact admitted by China as well). The media activeness keeps highlighting it at varying scales both sides (Depending on their degree of freedom of speech).

Sela pass, Arunachal Pradesh. According to legend, a sepoy of the Indian Army named Jaswant Singh Rawat fought alone against the Chinese soldiers near the pass during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. A tribal woman named Sela who had brought food and water to him is said to have killed herself upon seeing the dead body of Jaswant Singh Rawat. Singh was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his courage and devotion to duty. (courtesy Wikipedia)

The current face-off has different strategic dimensions. Despite Bhutan issuing a demarche to China to stop further road building into their territory, China continues to do so aggressively. It violates the understanding of 2012, of no unilateral change of status quo at strategic tri-junction of border of the three countries. India has a compulsion to react, because, besides honoring its arrangement to provide security to Bhutan, it has to prevent this attempt of Chinese to expand their military deployment space in Chumbi valley by encroaching Bhutanese territory, which presently is a vulnerability for China due to inadequate deployment space. If India does not react, China will expand Chumbi Valley, induct more troops, reduce its vulnerability and increase the threat to Siliguri Corridor/Chickens Neck as explained in various articles/news items.

Another factor which makes it different from normal transgression incidents is the sequence of events and the timing of incident.  India boycotted Belt and Road Forum as CPEC impinges its sovereign territory, despite China’s warning of it getting isolated, India not only proved that it cannot be pressurized, it follows its independent foreign policy, and also proved that it has the clout not to be isolated. There have been a chain of issues of divergences like NSG, JeM Chief, South China Sea etc, but the commercial engagements and other points of convergence have prevailed on continuing with healthy engagements. This incident flared immediately after successful meeting of Prime Minister Modi, and the joint statement which followed indicating strengthening of strategic partnership, mention of terror harboring of Pakistan, Malabar exercises, North Korea etc seem to have made China uncomfortable. This not only added to the biggest problem in India China relationship, which is “Trust Deficit”, but seems to have added to insecurities of China.

These insecurities seem to have a triggered a spate of unwarranted statements from China like “Indian Army could learn from “historical lessons” and “New Delhi must be taught the rules”, which started the unwarranted war of words. In fact PLA spokesperson went a step ahead to comment that Indian Army chief’s remark that ‘India is ready for a two-and-a-half front war’, was extremely irresponsible.  Without prolonging the war of words, let me put these in correct perspective:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Sabarmati Ashram
  • India of 2017 is China’s strong neighbour which has and will continue to follow an independent foreign policy,which cannot be dictated by any other country. China and India will have to acknowledge each others growing economies, consumer markets, growing CNP and adjust to deal with each other. The history also highlights the fact that Indian economy was ahead of China in most economic parameters in 1979, and trends can change.
  • To learn from history, China has to realize that Qing dynasty is not the benchmark, on which the world can be dictated to adjust its boundaries. If India claims entire Pakistan as its territory based on pre 1947 history, the world will call it naïve and irresponsible.
  • Indian Army is battle hardened and has not lost any war after 1962. Even 1962 was an aberration based on some political and strategic miscalculations. PLA on the other hand after a ‘Not so Impressive show’ in 1979, is yet to have any worthwhile operational experience. The modernization drive based on studies of other Armies experiences do not make a force operationally experienced, because it is the man behind the gun, which matters.
  • Only a professional Army tries to prepare for all contingencies, and worst case scenerios. The Indian Army Chief’s remark is a professional statement from a thorough professional, for preparedness of own forces, and needs to be read in that context. The remark of PLA spokesperson  calling it “extremely irresponsible” and “clamoring for war” proves his immaturity and lack of training in handling such assignment, or deliberate upping the ante by PLA.
  • Any military, howsoever big or modern, on being arrogant can be surprised. Hitler’s downfall started when he thought he can conquer the world. Even US had to struggle in Vietnam. In my opinion/prediction, the history has a lesson that if someone can prevent China’s rise, it will be only over ambition of China itself.
  • The Indian Defence Minister has adequately clarified that India of 2017 is different from 1962.

Looking ahead, China and India cannot ignore the fastest growing economies, and largest consumer markets of  each other, if they  have to fulfill the dreams of their people. The statement of  Lu Kang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman to say “The diplomatic channel for communication remains unimpeded. We urged the Indian side to withdraw troops back to the Indian side of the boundary immediately. This is the precondition for the settlement of this incident and also the basis for us to conduct any meaningful dialogue”. This is not in sync with Chinese declared  goals of 2049, and is detrimental to growth of Rising China and Rising India.

Notwithstanding the above, the fact is that both countries will continue with their rising status, and no one can dictate terms to other. As both countries follow their independent foreign policy, and will continue to have bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries as per their own national interest. Any assertiveness by anyone or any attempt to change status quo will not improve relations, which is not good for long term goals of both countries.

As per Tom McGregor (URL below) , “Beijing cannot proclaim itself as an innocent victim. But in a border standoff, neither side wants to appear weak, so the two countries must find a peaceful manner and face-saving gesture to ease tensions”. To resolve the current face-off I would suggest:

  • The diplomatic interactions should start immediately setting aside hard stands, war of words, and rhetoric’s.
  • Chinese should stop construction of road immediately, honoring sovereignty of Bhutan and Trilateral agreements.
  • Once status quo is achieved, military of both sides should pull back to pre standoff positions. The sequence can be worked out by the diplomats.
  • Mansarovar Yatra can be resumed thereafter.

The views expressed are the author’s personnel views and do not reflect the views of any organisation

The author, who is Chief Instructor, USI of India, is on Facebook, linkedin, Twitter, WordPress and Google+ as Shashi Asthana)

Sikkim stand off and the China Pakistan Axis

Lalit Shastri

The China-Pakistan Axis is trying to squeeze India by denying it its true place in the international arena. China is looking at India as only a dumping ground for its cheap goods and there is no stratetigc advantage India is deriving from supporting China blindly on all forums including their permananet membership of the security council which we support.

On the trade relations front, India is obviously the loser as against the total India-China bilateral trade which touched $70.8 billion,  India was left with a mounting $ 46.56 billion trade deficit with China last year.

It is high-time India reviews its foreign policy with relation to China. India will be justified in raising straight barriers and responding appropriately whenever China crosses India’s path and acts contrary to the sovereign interests of India. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a case in point.

China recently vetoed a resolution to designate Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group chief as a terrorist by the United Nations (UN). He is among India’s most wanted terrorists and is accused of plotting and executing several terror attacks in India, including the attack on the Air Force station at Pathankot last year in January.

ChinaMilitary, the official English-language website for China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) and a mouthpiece sponsored by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army today published a story with the heading “China slams Indian troops’ provocation on border” which goes on to allege that Indian troops had recently crossed the border with China in an attempt to “block a road construction in Donglang (Doklam) area by the Chinese side”.

China’s defense ministry also confirmed the news about the “China-Indian border confrontation”.

Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), late on 26 June said: “Indian troops’ unilateral provocation has violated the consensus and relevant agreements on border issues between the Chinese and Indian governments, seriously endangering the peace and stability of the border areas.” There are treaties to recognise the China-Indian boundary line at the Sikkim section, Ren said adding the construction of the roads in Donglang (Doklam) area is entirely a sovereign act by China in its own territory, and the Indian side has no rights to interfere.

The construction of roads in a sensitive area bordering Sikkim is a sensitive matter and the move by China to build roads in that area is serious provocation.

Mansarovar yatra

China on Monday also confirmed that its decision to suspend the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La was based on the border standoff on the Sikkim section of the China-India border.

The controversy raised by China at a time when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being received by the US President Donald Trump in the White House with open arms and the two leaders were pledging support and cooperation to fight terrorism and attain the objectives for peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the Indo-Pacific region, cannot be just a coincidence.

India launches New Air Corridor With Afghanistan

Two days ago, Global Times, a State run Chinese newspaper also went all out against India’s New Air Corridor With Afghanistan launched on June 19. It also expressed concern regarding another initiative by India to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar, which would open direct transport route to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. Speaking obviously on behalf of Pakistan regarding this project, the Chinese State run newspaper said India “should not bypass Pakistan” and that “it would still be better for India to develop economic and trade relations with Pakistan.”

PM Narendra Modi welcomes the first Air Freight Corridor flight from Kabul to India- thanks President Ghani for the initiative

The newspaper in question asked: Will India bypass Pakistan to develop trade with Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries?

Earlier in May this year India chose to skip the One Belt and One Road Summit organised by China treating it as a “Sovereignty Issue” especially with relation to India as CPEC is passing through the Indian Territory (Pak occupied Kashmir). OBOR is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature project.

Skipping OBOR Summit was like a one-off stand taken by India. What is expected of the mandarins in the South Block in New Delhi (where the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is largely located) is a more pro-active policy vis-a-vis China.

 

Gwadar Military Base a reality: CPEC not Benign

Major General S B Asthana,SM,VSM

China’s handing over of two combat ships to Pakistan on January 14, 2017, for ‘safety of Gwadar Port’ (Dawn, 15 January,2017) and later the headline was changed to ‘for Maritime Security’, on clarification from Pakistan Maritime Security Agency. It opens a new line of argument, which China has been avoiding to commit so far, that the project is not as benign as China has been claiming it to be, and its conversion to a military base, besides commercial hub is a matter of time.  With arrival of first Chinese commercial ship at Gwadar port on 11 November 2016, sailing of two container ships from there on 13 November, preceded by a Chinese trade convoy reaching there through land route from Xinjiang, carrying exports for Asian, Gulf and other countries, a formal signaling of the 3218 km long China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project commencing to be a potential reality is evident. Pakistan was overjoyed to advertise a windfall of economic bounty, was very quick to announce the Chinese Naval deployment in Gwadar, and over assured presence of Chinese military to secure their Lines of Communication and related SLOC, with release of such statements. (The Times of India, 26 and 27 November 2016). Pakistan was also quick to announce the Russians request to use Gwadar Port (Geo News), although Russian media later denied it. The Chinese on the other hand, seem to be trying hard to convince everyone that CPEC and Gwadar port are purely developmental, integrative, economical activities with no military intent. China seems to be adopting step by step approach, by testing the water, without ignoring the potential security concerns. Both these countries know it well that it is not going to be that easy, as it is made out to be. It also raises some concerns for India by re-igniting its sovereignty issue of POK and recalibrating Indian response in potential conflict, assuming Chinese presence in Pakistan. It also signals encroachment of China into historic strategic space of US, who cannot dump Pakistan completely due to its strategic location, and usefulness for having a foothold in Middle-East, although no significant statement has appeared from President-elect Donald Trump on this specific issue.


The $46bn CPEC  does provide connectivity from Kashgar to Gwadar, warm water access to Western region of China, avoiding Malacca and other choke point for her energy and trade flow, outlet to its over-capacities and trade surpluses, and development of its Western Region. It helps Pakistan in their economic development, with heavy investments and meeting critical energy shortages. Strategically, it clearly indicates China’s effort to seek security in Xinjiang through economic development, hoping that it will help in tackling insurgency by Uyghur related militant groups (especially militants taking refuge inside Pakistan like ETIM, working in conjunction with TTP and other militant groups). Although China, Pakistan and world media have published numerous articles on CPEC, highlighting its economic and developmental potential and airing some security concerns of CPEC, however, in the recent past the realistic realization of the actual problems and concerns are being aired by various authors, think-tank’s and global organizations including that of  China and Pakistan. Let me highlight some of them including military impact of the project on India.
Concerns of Pakistan
• IMF calculates that CPEC will push Pakistan into greater debt burden/trap to reach a current account deficit of approximately 1.5 Percent of its GDP. In case Pakistan fails to repay loans, China can take the ownership of the projects.
• China is not gifting money. The infrastructure will be built by its own companies using their own workers (sending revenue back to China, hence limited jobs and no significant economic bounty generated for Pakistan), and the energy produced may be too costly to be affordable by average Pakistanis.
• The dream of SEZ may remain on paper due to peculiar governance system of Pakistan, like there is no drinking water in areas around Gwadar supposed to be a SEZ, indicating the priorities of China. Such incidents do ignite resentment in Baluchistan, besides threatening crucial projects like railways through it. Declan Walsh in his article Pakistan’s secret dirty war (Guardian), has highlighted the atrocities of Baluchis by Pakistan Army since quite some time, but the recent outburst of Baluchis, and military operations of Pakistan leading to selective killings of people opposing CPEC, as highlighted by world media, definitely is leading to the belief of local population that SEZ is nowhere in sight, and CPEC is going to benefit few powerful variety of people who are Punjab centric.
• Providing double the number of security personnel to increasing number of Chinese workers may not be sustainable in the long run. The commitment of their critical combat resources like Marine Squadron on security duties in Gwadar and SSG on CPEC not being sustainable, is also a concern.
• Unrest in Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and activation of militant groups opposing any foreign elements in Pakistan, as it disturbs their Jihadist freedom and terror industry.
• Facing the collective wrath of US and India, internal political opposition (neglected population calling it China-Punjab Economic Corridor) and militant groups, vis a vis the anticipated gains is questionable.
Concerns of China
• Some of the projects may not be economically viable, e.g. the consumption of oil in Western region may not be sufficient to make an oil pipeline economically viable. Its transportation by land to mainland over rough terrain may work out to be costlier than old sea route.
• Reactivation of Uyghur related militancy in conjunction with other militant groups inside Pakistan, inimical to any foreign presence. After all some militant groups earlier nurtured by Pakistan are regularly attacking their own Army, hence assurance of Security by Pakistan cannot be relied upon. The recent incident of withdrawal of all passports of residents of Xinjiang may add fuel to fire.
• China also needs to be concerned about the sustainability of the project in terms of cost to its own security. The policy of appeasement of some militant groups like JeM does not work for long time with militants, who are uncontrollable demons, ready to bite their own sponsors. They follow their own interests, dynamics and sympathies for their Uyghur community, which may not coincide with interests of China. Once they start shooting Chinese, China will realize the dynamics of entering a new kind of warfare, just as US realized after 9/11. China needs to worry about expansion of militancy into its mainland as a result of CPEC-Gwadar adventure, because fidayeens, who are mentally prepared to die, are not easy to deal with.
• A possible US reaction to encroachment of China into some of their strategic space, and disturbing the fine equilibrium with them in using Pakistani territory for their strategic gains by both of them, without undue clash. China has made best use of pre and post election period in US, when bold decisions from US were not expected, to increase her strategic influence, but it may not be that rosy always.
• Potential of US and India to actively pursue their concerns, which may hamper success and sustainability of this project. The sovereignty issue of India over POK is being voiced much more, after CPEC plans were rolled out, with a new set of sentiments to take back POK.
• In case of hostilities, Gwadar may well prove to be a vulnerability for China rather than strength, as PLA Navy in near future may not have the combat power to take on entire hostile environment from East China Sea, South China Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea together. Chinese presence in Gwadar does not make it immune to blockade by other powers, although the other scenario based implications may have to be thought through by anyone trying such action.
Is there a Need for India to be concerned?
• Improving economic potential/opportunities, development and its trade prospects is a sovereign right of every country and to that extent, if CPEC and Gwadar improve these prospects for China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, and possibly Russia, India has no reason to be concerned about it, but if its aligned to pass through Indian sovereign territory without its consent, then India has every reason to be concerned about it.
• India has no reason to worry as it is well used to China developing infrastructure in its neighborhood to include Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Srilanka, therefore such developments in Pakistan can be taken in a stride, but infrastructure  being a dual use facility (civil and Military) facilitates military deployment, hence India needs to calibrate her policies.
• The competition for strategic space in Asia-Pacific is a reality and US, China and India cannot ignore it. Indian concern of Sovereignty over POK needs to be addressed, because in absence of such efforts, Indian voices for taking back POK may gain momentum.
• The strategic and military options of India against Pakistan, for counter-militancy operations will have to cater for Chinese presence, and the effect on their trade, however considering their “All weather friendship” the possibility of their collusive reaction is not new for India, and has to be planned as such.
• India will have to cater for the maritime military balance in view of China handing over combat ship to Pakistan, amounting to signaling about developing  of Gwadar as a military base, strengthening Pakistan maritime capability, with a view to dominate Gulf and Indian Ocean. India will have to develop its maritime capability with similar pace, if not more.


The author is Chief Instructor, USI of India

References
http://www.dawn.com/news/1308491
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/mar/29/balochistan-pakistans-secret-dirty-war
Daniel S. Markey and James West (2016), Behind China’s Gambit in Pakistan, Council on Foreign Relations, May 12, 2016.     http://www.cfr.org/region/pakistan/ri246
Akber Ali (2016), China Pakistan Economic Corridor: Prospects and Challenges for Regional Integration,School of Journalism & Communication, Shanghai University, China. http://www. -2151-6200 omicsonline.com/open-access/china-pakistan-economic-corridor-prospects-and-challenges-for-regionalintegration -1000204.php?aid=77852
Ian Price (2016), Is the US Trying to Sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor? The Diplomat, September 29, 2016. http://thediplomat.com/2016/09/is-the-us-trying-to-sabotage-the-china-pakistan-economic-corridor/

Pakistan will soon blow up into pieces says Baloch freedom fighter

stop-genocide

 

25-year-old Mazdak Dilshad Baloch appears much more assured and confident than his age. Living in Canada since 2014, Mazdak and his wife arrived in India a few months ago to build public opinion in favour of freedom struggle for Balochistan. He spoke to Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla in an exclusive interview. Edited excerpts:

Are you in favour of talking to Pakistan?

No. We are opposed to talking to Pakistan as long as Balochistan is occupied by its army. Until we are an equal party, we will not talk. If the Pakistan army withdraws for a neutral force/power to monitor and oversee, we can talk to Pakistan and hold them accountable for their misdeeds.

China is investing huge in CPEC (China–Pakistan Economic Corridor). How do you look at it?

China is exploiting the resource-rich Balochistan. It is unacceptable to us. CPEC is a project that stands to connect China’s largest province Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan. It has got China’s boots on our ground. Balochistan is endowed with rich but largely unexploited reserves of copper and gold.

Pakistan has deployed 15,000 personnel, mainly serving army soldiers, to secure the corridor. China has been helping Pakistan carry genocide in Balochistan since ‘50s. In return, Pakistan awarded China with CPEC to loot the resources of Balochistan to the tune of 16 kg gold every day. It is a military corridor to give China naval base in Gwadar port. Instead of empowering us, it is killing us. Our consent is must. Our resources should be in our possession. Our land should be in our hands. Nobody should take our resources. We are under occupation of Pakistan. 150,000 people had been evicted from the route of the trade corridor by security forces to clear the way for roads and other infrastructure.

Would you call upon China to immediately shelve this project?

We have asked China to stop this. Naela Quadri Baloch has written a letter to the mothers/women in China. Mothers are all of the same kind. She reached out to the mothers in China to stop the genocide perpetuated by their government. But it has fallen on deaf ears. It serves China’s interest to kill us.

Would you call upon India to intervene and free Balochistan from Pakistan in the same way as India freed Bangladesh in 1971?

Yes, we will be happy whichever way India wishes to help us get freedom: militarily or diplomatically or otherwise. We need help at all levels. We need India’s moral and diplomatic support. We need India to internationally lobby for us at UN forums. If India directly intervenes to liberate us, we will be too happy. We will ask for it, because we are dying.

Do you support India’s surgical strike in PoK?

Yes. PoK is illegally occupied by Pakistan in much the same way as Balochistan is. Kashmir is burning because of Pakistan’s proxies and jihadis. India is much entitled to surgical strikes. We will welcome India to extend the similar surgical strikes into Balochistan and save us. More and more people are kidnapped and killed there every day. But the world remains a mute spectator.

Do you think Pakistan is a terrorist state?

Pakistan is very much a terrorist state. It is a manufacturer and exporter of terrorism. Terrorism is central to their economy policy. Pakistan is just four districts of Punjab. Sind wants independence, so does Balochistan. Islamabad westwards is dominated by the Afghans. Only Punjab and the army are left of Pakistan. It is not a country but a concentration camp to hold different nations by force and brutal butchery. Pakistan is an artificial country. Why would it have got torn in 1971 otherwise? Bangladesh bore the brunt. One lakh women got raped in Bangladesh. It is not an organically evolved nation. Pakistan was conceived in Cambridge as a proxy by the British to rule the whole subcontinent. We had been independent when Pakistan came into being. Balochistan became an independent country on August 4, 1947 and the declaration was made on August 11, 1947, days before Pakistan was created.

But we were occupied because they wanted to exploit our rich resources, water and land.

Can Pakistan hold for long?

No, it can’t. The pressure is building up and Pakistan will soon blow up into pieces. The more force is used to suppress, the louder will be the reaction. The day the world stops their financial, diplomatic support and put sanctions against Pakistan, it will disappear from the world map. Pakistan had created local al-Qaida and ISIS groups in the region, in the same way that it had once created al-Shams and al-Badr in Bangladesh.

Only 3 per cent people participated in last elections held in 2013 in Balochistan. How much support does it mean for the Baloch freedom movement? There is a government in the province after all. How much support do you enjoy among the common people?

It is not a tribal movement but a political movement led by the masses. The common man identifies himself with this movement. Three per cent participation is an axiomatic truth. People who participated in the 2013 polls had nothing to do with the freedom movement. They drew benefits from Pakistan. But 97 per cent people didn’t even cast their votes. If Pakistan had even an iota of faith in democracy, it would have granted us freedom. Democracy allows the dissenting people to choose their land. Brexit is an example. Europe is truly democratic. But we are held by force. We have been a free country, free nation for 705 years.

How can the world be sure of your claim to enjoy support of Baloch people for the freedom movement?

No international media or international inspection team is allowed by Pakistan to enter into Balochistan. That is a big handicap. People are allowed to travel only up to Karachi or Lahore. So, we have only our struggle and movement to prove the point. Three per cent people participated in the last elections held in Balochistan in 2013. It adds to the evidences. That is why Pakistan and China have joined hands in desperation to crush our movement. But they will fail and we will win. We have grown stronger without any support from anywhere of any kind.

Majdak Dilshad Baloch (R) with Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla
Majdak Dilshad Baloch (R) with Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla

Historically, whom do you blame for your slavery and dependence?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, of course. He backstabbed us in 1948 even though Balochistan had paid Jinnah as much gold as he weighed against his fees as a legal counsel for getting back the areas of Balochistan under lease with the British. When the Balochistan approached India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru for help, he refused to help. Still, Balochistan refused to join Pakistan, only to be attacked. That attack has since continued till now.

Brahamdagh Bugti, the Switzerland-based leader of the Balochistan Republican Party, another major separatist outfit, has approached India for political asylum? Should India accept to undo the mistake committed by Nehru?

The leaders are different and so are the political circumstances. Political asylum should be a matter of policy and not a favour to an individual. I request India to formulate an asylum policy for Baloch freedom fighters. It will build a formal bridge of friendship between India and Balochistan. Always a friendly country, India is known for helping the people in distress. First Baloch leader in 70 years to come to India, Naela Quadri Baloch publicly asked India for help for freedom of Balochistan.

Did she meet PM Modi or Home Minister Rajnath Singh for help?

I don’t know. But she has been meeting several political leaders in India. India and independent Balochistan are in a win-win situation. Free Balochistan will be secular, democratic, peace-loving, nuclear free, terror-free, pluralistic, and gender-balanced. India needs an independent Balochistan. An independent Balochistan will be a friend of India and will serve India’s interests. Unlike Pakistan, we want to see a strong and prosperous India. We don’t want to see Pakistan at all. PM Modi has been kind to us. He has listened to us and spoke about us from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15. Sushma Swaraj followed it up in the UN. His team is working on it. As for Bugti’s asylum plea, it is between him and India to decide.

Pakistan accuses India of funding your movement through RAW, IB. Is it true? Who funds you?

I have never heard of it. I don’t know of any such help. If we had received any kind of help from India, we would have been free long ago. We have not yet got any help from India. But our leaders have come to India for the first time, publicly asking for help. We hope India will help this time. We are asking for help openly, publicly. We are not hiding. Pakistan tries to snub our movement by putting several tags on us. But we will openly admit if India lends any help. It is our right to ask for help. Whoever supports us, we will publicly welcome.

Is there going to be a Balochistan government-in-exile? How soon will it take the shape?

A couple of days ago, Naela Qadri and Baloch leaders in Afghanistan met in Kabul over this issue. They have agreed to form a Baloch government-in-exile wherever it is possible, terming it as need of hour. Besides, they also called upon Afghanistan to join India to help Balochistan become independent. Much depends upon who supports our government-in-exile. Because support will also mean standing up to the Pakistan, the terror capital of the world. Pakistan plays on fears of the world. Bluff is central to their policy.