India can do a lot for Balochistan, says Khan of Kalat | world-news | Hindustan Times
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India can do a lot for Balochistan, says Khan of Kalat

world Updated: Aug 31, 2016 21:37 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Dawood Jan Ahmedzai (HT/Prasun Sonwalkar )

A quiet, leafy suburb in this capital of Wales is far removed from the fire and brimstone of everyday life in Balochistan, but there is clearly a frisson in one terraced house since Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of rights violations in the Pakistani province.

The resident of the house is the “Khan of Kalat” – holder of the respected title that influenced the fortunes of the natural resource-rich region since the 17th century.

He is Mir Suleman Dawood Jan Ahmedzai, 52, who left Pakistan in 2006 and sought refuge in Britain.

It is not only 7,700 km that separate Ahmedzai’s life in Cardiff from that in Kalat, where he owns several palaces and land and once moved around with all the appurtenances of a ruler.

His grandfather acceded the Khanate of Kalat, the largest princely state in the erstwhile Balochistan Agency, to Pakistan in March 1948 “by the barrel of the gun”.

Ahmedzai is reputed to be one of the most acceptable and popular leaders across Balochistan. His writ reportedly runs across the Baloch-inhabited regions of neighbouring Afghanistan and Iran, with the capacity to mobilise a large number of people.

Sporting the traditional Baloch cap, Ahmedzai – seen by some locals as a “king without his kingdom” – spoke to Hindustan Times with enthusiasm about Modi’s remarks, what he and others expect from India, and the implications of China’s presence in the restive Pakistani province for India. Here are the excerpts:

How do you see recent remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Balochistan?

We welcome the Indian Prime Minister’s brave and long-awaited stance on Balochistan. We Baloch are looking forward to work with the Indians and others for peace, prosperity and security in south Asia. He will be remembered by the Baloch nation for a long time. I have spoken to a number of tribal chiefs, leaders and people – they are all looking for peace, stability and security. The Baloch, Indian and other nations who have been the victims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism can together defeat it.

What do you expect from India?

India can do a lot diplomatically and about the violation of human rights that your prime minister spoke about. India can help us at the United Nations and at the International Court of Justice. Together with our supporters in the US, we can at least get assets of the leading lights of Pakistan frozen, to begin with. We can send a delegation to New Delhi to meet the prime minister, Indian political parties and parliamentarians to explain our cause. We must explore new ways of cooperation between India and Balochistan. We can help remove the threat to India from its western border.

Critics say Modi’s remarks were just a counter to the Kashmir issue. Do you think he is really interested in Balochistan?

We can’t be compared to Jammu and Kashmir. The cynics may say that India will use Balochistan to put pressure on Pakistan to stop sponsoring terrorism in India. Jammu and Kashmir is important to Pakistan because of water and food security. But Indian national security and future economic growth is dependent on an independent Balochistan – how? China and Pakistan will surround India if Baloch aspiration for independence is suppressed and if the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is accomplished. India will be a permanent loser. I believe Mr Modi is interested in India’s national interest, and an independent Balochistan is in India’s national interest.

I am a positive person: I believe Mr Modi is a genuine and courageous man. I also believe nation-states have interests and leaders do what is in the best of their national interest.

What really happened in 2006? Why did you flee Pakistan?

I did not flee. I summoned the Baloch ‘jirga’ (council of tribal chiefs) and decided to take the Balochistan case to the International Court of Justice. After I left, Pakistan bought the loyalties of some members of the supreme council – without going into too much detail. The positive side is that I have lobbied with success for an independent Balochistan. For the first time in history, there was a hearing in the US Congress on an independent Balochistan.

What are your plans for Balochistan – do you plan to return; if so, when?

I have one plan and that is to regain independence for Balochistan, which was annexed by Pakistan at the point of a barrel. I never had a plan to return to Pakistan, but I have a plan to return to an independent Balochistan.

If the Punjabis (of Pakistan) and Chinese succeed in their CPEC plan, the Baloch will become an ignorable minority and lose their land, culture and way of life permanently. But India will be the greatest loser.

China and Pakistan have a plan for India, I am sure you are aware of it. Pakistan as a state is failing: Islam says take care of your neighbours, but you are poking (your) nose in every neighbour, be it India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China. We should have the courage to terminate Pakistan’s use of terrorism as state policy.

Do you still plan to pursue the Baloch case at the International Court of Justice?

I have never stopped pursuing the case of illegal occupation and human rights violations. We approached the Americans and got a great response from parliamentarians there. I am grateful to the congressmen and women there, NGOs and European members of parliament for their support. I am also grateful to the recent positive remarks of (former Afghan president) Hamid Karzai and the foreign minister of Bangladesh.

The situation in Balochistan is very bad. There are no accurate estimates, but 25,000 people are said to be missing and over a million displaced. Pakistan’s rule over Balochistan has never been legitimate, now it has lost control over Balochistan. The Indian, American, Afghan, Arab states and others should realise that the future is Balochistan, an independent Balochistan.

Britain’s foreign office has stopped mentioning Balochistan in its annual report. Why do you think that is the case?

I do not know the reason for that. They may have interests that prompt them not to mention it, but as I said states have interests and means to put pressure on other states to protect their interests. Had the British published the truth, they would have been accused by Pakistan of taking sides. Probably that is why they have chosen not to mention it. But one should ask the foreign office why they have ignored human rights violations in Balochistan.

What is the reality of the accession agreement for the Khanate of Kalat? Did Pakistan go back on the conditions?

There is no annexation agreement. Pakistan was allowed by the British and other world powers to invade Balochistan with the barrel of the gun.

Are you in touch with other Baloch leaders?

I am not only in touch with political leaders but also with tribal chiefs, political activists and the common people of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. It is true that in politics we are as not united as we are in culture and tradition. But we are all united for the independence of Balochistan. We will find ways to address our political differences. A leader who ignores public opinion cannot maintain position as a leader.

You once said you would be willing to accept help even from Israel. Do you still hold that thought?

We accept help from anyone as long as that help is for regaining the independence of Balochistan, including Israel.