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Jadhav victim of Pak-China Baloch romance
It is a well-known fact that Pakistan always looked for blame games and excuses to carry on with her illegal occupation of Balochistan and genocidal military operation against the Baloch people.
The aim is to defeat the Baloch fight for freedom and force them to surrender to the Punjabi elite who could then loot Baloch resources without any resistance.
China, Pakistan’s close friend, joined the Punjabi looting class closely in 2001 in its efforts to kill and plunder Baloch resources unabashedly. It has now increased the stakes by announcing the so-called China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that has raised Pakistan’s strategical importance many times in the region and beyond.
There are no doubts about the importance of CPEC for China and Pakistan (read Punjab). China has even declared it as the flagship project under the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative. However, CPEC is an existential threat to not only the Baloch people but also to other ethnic minorities who are gradually coming to terms with the adverse impact of it on their lives. The Baloch people are particularly incensed about the growing military action that has followed the announcement of the project.
This has touched their nerves and made them more determined to fight for their inalienable rights of Independence which was snatched away from them through illegal annexation of their country by Pakistan in 1948.
CPEC is a direct threat to the USA too even if some of the American analysts have deluded themselves into believing that it would bring prosperity and stability to the terror-manufacturing country.
They ignore the debilitating impact of China-Pakistan strategic nexus on the regional conflict dynamics in general and the human rights situation in Balochistan in particular.
Pakistan is keeping its doors open for China to enhance its strategic existence in the Arabian Sea through its presence in Gwadar and boost its economy by bringing prosperity to western Chinese region of Xinjiang. At a time when China is facing economic downturn, investing its vast idle reserves in a corridor like this makes eminent sense, especially when it has a partner like Pakistan, and it is willing to trust Pakistani military with its ability as well as commitment to provide security for its investments.
This should particularly worry realists in America, when China is strategically competing with and displacing the US from region after region in the developing regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
It has inflated aspirations of replacing the US as the most powerful country in the world. It is full of scorn for the values and norms that the US upholds as fundamental to human development. There is a conscious effort by China to provide the developing world with an alternative vision of economic growth founded on values which are inherently anti-democratic and anti-human rights.
Ideologically, the Punjabi elite of Pakistan is its close cousin even if it maintains a façade of democracy. In such a setting, the US should stop alignment of such regressive forces rather than seeking to cohabit the strategic space of Southern Asia with both of them.
CPEC is also a direct threat to the oil rich West Asian countries. If China sets up its military bases right at the neck of Strait of Hormuz in Persian Gulf in this way, it will definitely flex its muscle in the region sooner than expected and browbeat the region into submission.
Having an alternative route for Chinese imports and exports away from South China Sea where the waters are increasingly getting hot due to Chinese ambitions to control entire south sea is also an attractive proposition for China. It will save on its expenses on security and trade-transit through CPEC.
CPEC is being projected as a matter of life and death by the ruling elite of Pakistan. Perceived Indian opposition to it is acting as an unexpected incentive for both China and Pakistan to overinvest on it for its successful implementation. They know for sure that the main hurdle on their way is the Baloch movement for freedom. They want to delegitimise the movement by inventing a link with India.
It is no secret that since 2000, the Pakistan Army is running its brutal military operations against the innocent Baloch people, who have been waging their fifth-generation struggle against the Pakistani policies.
Starting with military dictator Musharraf, Pakistani rulers have openly blamed everybody around the world from CIA, RAW, Mossad, Russian FSB, Afghans, Arabs and Iranian intelligence agencies for the ongoing Baloch resistance movement.
The Kulbhushan Jadhav episode only proves this point further. The Baloch people have known Pakistani designs since 2003 when Pakistani authorities offered them US $ 35,000 for every Indian they would be able to kidnap from Afghanistan and US$ 20,000 every Indian kidnapped from Iran. They have offered millions to Afghan Taliban for capturing Indians working in Afghanistan.
The story emerging from the ground suggests that Kulbhushan Jadhav was kidnapped from western Balochistan near Chabahar port in Iran by three Afghans who later sold him to some Baloch who were working for the ISI.
Jadhav was there on a business trip to inspect some possibilities to export Indian garments to Turkmenistan and other central Asian states.
He was blind-flooded and brought inside Pakistani occupied Balochistan and sold for US$ 35,000 that was trophy for ISI. He was then shown as a RAW agent captured in Balochistan, who was there to train and help Baloch and create instability in Pakistan.
It was all just a grand make-believe show to brainwash Pakistani public and international community to hide their crimes in Balochistan.
Another fact that has gone unnoticed is that the Chinese have resisted the temptation to invest heavily in Balochistan so far. The proposed Gadani power plants have been kept in abeyance. The move to build infrastructure around Gwadar has been pushed by Pakistan to sustain Chinese interests.
The only good this is that Pakistani ploy to project Baloch resistance as merely a function of mischief caused by Indian RAW has not convinced the Chinese about the nature of Baloch movement, which is likely to intensify further.
If the sentence against Kulbushan is carried out, it will be a travesty of justice. He has not been given due assistance under international law to plead his case. The Pakistani version of the story has been upheld by the military court and death sentence has been pronounced without even granting Indian High Commission access to its citizen alleged to be a spy.
As per international norms, this is the very minimum requirement for a fair trial. All this shows how desperate Pakistanis are to undermine Baloch struggle at one level and sell their antipathy towards India as legitimate point to the international community on the other.
Ironically, the Baloch people, with their secular outlook and reflexive empathy for India, have not received due attention and help from India in their struggle for their existence.
With India being a regional heavyweight with its record of upholding human rights in the case of Bangladesh, the Baloch have huge expectations from New Delhi, but it has gone unmet over the years. Despite steady attempt by various Baloch leaders in exile to reach out to Indian diplomats abroad in quest for moral and material help, there is no manifest desire to imperil India’s relationship with Pakistan by siding with Balochistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised Baloch expectations but as the Indian coyness about the Kulbhushan case shows, India is still not prepared to openly advocate the Baloch cause and raise the case of gross human rights violations at the international level.
Alas! The ground reality is so very different from what the Pakistanis portray it to be!
(The writer is a physician by profession and a Baloch rights activist based in Moscow)
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