Minister hints India's role in Balochistan unrest
A Pakistani minister has said that "a foreign hand" was behind the current unrest in Balochistan province and linked it to India opening consulates in different cities of neighbouring Afghanistan.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Tariq Azeem levelled this charge at a joint press conference with Major General Shaukat Sultan, the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
"The weapons recovered from miscreants in Balochistan are sophisticated, expensive and modern, which is a strong indication of involvement of a foreign hand," The News quoted him as telling the media.
He did not initially name India. What began as an innuendo about a "foreign hand" became a direct reference to New Delhi when pressed by reporters.
He said: "Everyone knows why India has opened its consulates in Afghanistan near Pakistani borders.
India could be in a better position to explain the reasons for opening of consulates in Afghanistan near Pakistani borders."
India has staffed consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar close to the Pakistani border. But it has also an embassy in Kabul and consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat, away from Pakistan.
The rebellion by tribals in Balochistan has led to many deaths and arrests and use of military force.
These had been very critically commented upon by Western media, especially The New York Times in April.
Major General Shaukat Sultan rejected as "baseless", Newsweek's report on the volatile situation in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), saying, "It seems that the commentator being quoted in the report has never visited the area personally".
Azeem, though a junior minister in the government of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, enjoys a high profile role and is known for making political statements with regard to foreign countries and dignitaries.
He had recently ridiculed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her observations made during her brief visit to Islamabad.