The arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, in Pakistan on charges of espionage in Balochistan has brought that troubled region of Pakistan into focus. Naela Qadri Baloch, who lives in self-exile in Canada, arrived in India days after Jadhav’s arrest in Pakistan, and is the second Baloch liberation activist who has addressed public meetings in the country after Balochistan Liberation Organisation (BLO) representative Balaach Pardili who read out a statement from the London-based BLO leader Nawabzada Hyrbyair Marri, at a gathering in New Delhi on October 4. At the time, explaining Pardili’s presence, MEA spokesman had said that India was a home to “all the persecuted people of the world”. Naela Qadri, who addressed a press conference in Chandigarh on Thursday, told The Indian Express she is touring India to highlight the plight of the people of Balochistan. She spoke to The Indian Express on the role India can play in helping the Baloch gain freedom.
What sort of help do you expect from India in your struggle?
India has vital economic and energy needs that can be fulfiled through Balochistan if it chooses to help the oppressed people of Balochistan gain freedom from Pakistan. However, I feel the political will to take active interest or initiative in Balochistan is lacking in India. This can be corrected by moulding public opinion in the country and this is why people like me are travelling to India – in order to raise general awareness about Balochistan. The government will not be able to ignore strong public opinion.
Pakistan claims that India is ‘meddling’ in Balochistan and that people like you are ‘RAW agents.’
India is our friend and we have absolutely no problem in being called RAW agents. RAW is our brother, sister, whatever. Pakistan tries to term our struggle as a ‘RAW-inspired uprising’ to undermine it. However, the fact of the matter is that India is yet to come to our aid even though we openly say that you [India] come and free us from the clutches of Pakistan. We want India to do something intelligently, in a planned manner.
Pakistan has recently arrested an Indian retired naval officer and has claimed in international forums that India was meddling in Balochistan. How do you react tho the allegations?
I feel that there are two aspects to this recent development. There is an underlying need [for Pakistan] to prove that the Baloch freedom struggle is not legitimate and that it has been instigated by India. The other reason is that Pakistan thinks that India can make an active intervention in Balochistan in the future and they are attempting to take the moral high ground. This is why I have come to India boldly after the arrest of the alleged RAW agent — to show that we do not fear such allegations.
What has been the impact of the China Pakistan Economic corridor in Balochistan?
Every other day the construction activities of this corridor come under attack from our boys. The roads which are being built are destroyed and recently a radar station was destroyed due to which the visit of Chinese Prime Minister to Gwadar was cancelled, causing much embarrassment to the Pakistan government. China is looting the resources of our province including the gold reserves and turning a blind eye to genocide of Baloch.
Have you met any Indian politician? What are your expectations from the Narendra Modi government?
Our leadership has had no contact with any Indian politician after Jawaharlal Nehru. As far as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is concerned, we initially wanted him to focus on domestic politics after he came to power. But now, we feel that the Indian government will have to speak up and take a stand on Balochistan. The earlier governments were made up of coalitions and could not take a strong decision but now it is a strong government at the Centre.