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Baloch bane

It is interesting to note that Pak's accusation of Indian involvement in Balochistan comes every time New Delhi expresses its concern over the region, writes Meenakshi Iyer.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2006 15:53 IST

"Indo-Pak relations cannot be fully trouble-free, and such an expectation would be devoid of realism."

- Daily Star, Bangladesh

It is quite surprising that President Pervez Musharraf has give a clean chit to Afghanistan and squared up to India for fomenting trouble in his territory.

Earlier, there was a general belief in Pakistan that Kabul, hand in glove with New Delhi, was creating problems in its western frontiers.

Media reports in Islamabad maintained that Afghanistan allowed India to use its territory to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels in Balochistan.

But just ahead of his two-day visit to Afghanistan, General Musharraf did a volte-face for reasons best known to him.

The weekly foreign office news briefing simply absolved the Afghan government of any involvement against Pakistan.

Experts believe that Musharraf has to keep the Afghan regime happy. Karzai after all is known as an American creation. The General can blame India and get away with it, but he cannot do the same with Karzai, as it will rub Uncle Sam on the wrong side.

Also, Afghanistan and Pakistan have had chequered relations in the past over Taliban. Pakistan after all was the first country to recognise the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Taliban was a brainchild of a super rich Saudi Emir and the political will of Islamabad. Strategic experts say that if Kabul falls in the hands of rebel forces, it will be Islamabad that they will look up to for support.

As regards the question of Indian interference, it has been brewing since the installation of the new political order in Afghanistan and the restoration of Indian Consulates there.

Pakistan intelligence is of the opinion that India's RAW is involved in the issue.

"The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) pumped huge money into the province, transferred arms and ammunition via Kishan Garh into Dera Bugti, from various routes, all of which have now been sealed," it was disclosed at the meeting, The News International said.

It is interesting to note that such accusations come every time India expresses its concern over the deteriorating situation in Balochistan.

Earlier in January, New Delhi had noted with concern the heavy military action in Balochistan and said that Pakistan should "exercise restraint" and address the grievances of the people of the region through peaceful discussions.

India's worry merely stemmed from the fact that a 300 km-long gas pipeline from Iran could be caught in the crossfire if violence continued in Balochistan.

But Pakistan blamed India for the trouble there and described the neighbour's reaction as "unsolicited, unwarranted and unwise".

General Musharraf also took his grudge to US President George W Bush.

India voiced its concern again after powerful tribal chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed and Pakistan's reaction came along predictable lines.

"It is a matter of record that India has never spared Pakistan of its mischief right from the day of its emergence on world map. Islamabad has to be, therefore, vigilant against New Delhi's machinations, because it cannot reconcile with the existence of a stable, strong and prosperous Pakistan," says Pakistan Observer in a most scathing attack.

It is unfortunate that one cannot choose one's neighbours; and the Indo-Pak engagement is nothing but a "compulsion", as Pakistan's Daily Times also agrees.

It is logical that Pakistan doesn't like anyone interfering in its domestic affairs, but pointing fingers sans proof is unsolicited, unwise and definitely calls for action, India feels.

India has maintained time and again that it cannot stay put when there is havoc in its neighbourhood. Pakistan has grossly misinterpreted India's friendly concern.

While Pakistan continues to hold India responsible on all counts, Balochistan believes that India is not playing dirty, much to Islamabad's dismay.

"The government and Pakistan Army were spreading propaganda that foreign countries were behind the Balochistan situation," says eminent Baloch leader Abdul Rauf Mengal.

Bugti too had denied claims by President Musharraf that his group was being supported by New Delhi.

Balochistan has sparked off a new round of tension in Indo-Pak relations.

"It is difficult to see how the peace process can move forward if the present slide in relations between the two countries continues," says Pakistan's leading daily Dawn.

First Mumbai blasts, then expulsion of diplomats and now Bugti's killing - India and Pakistan, trudging on a road to peace - couldn't have asked for more trouble.

The incidents in quick succession only prove "how committed" the two countries are as regards the peace process. But it is indeed sad that quite like Pakistan, the media too has singled out India for all the failures.

"…The basic question is India's sincerity about the peace process. New Delhi has two choices: Either it should push the process forward, or it can choose to destabilise Pakistan…" says an editorial in Dawn.

"The present phase is not a happy one, although bilateral ties have not nose-dived. The rumbles of displeasure from both sides need to be contained for the sake of a healthy relationship," says Bangladesh's leading paper Daily Star.

Meanwhile amid all the brouhaha, mandarins from both sides have their eyes fixed on Havana, where Manmohan Singh and Musharraf are expected to meet during the September 11-16 Summit of the 116-member Non-Aligned Movement.

First Published: Sep 08, 2006 15:53 IST