In a move that will test the NDA government’s new policy on Balochistan, a prominent Baloch leader, accused of violence in Pakistan, is seeking an Indian government-issued ID.
Speaking to The Hindu from Switzerland, leader of the Baloch Republican Party, Brahamdagh Khan Bugti said Pakistan was trying to create international pressure by issuing a Red notice against him, and sought India’s intervention to ensure safety for himself and his companions.
Mr. Bugti’s desire to seek an official Indian ID and “travel documents” stem from the fact that at present, he runs his party from Switzerland without official authorisation from the Swiss government.
He also claims that the Swiss government, that declined his application for an official ID in January 2016 since his party is on the terror watchlist, is creating hurdles to his work, due to pressure from Pakistan.
“Short of physically preventing me, the Swiss are doing everything to create the circumstances that has turned me into an open-air prisoner. [Hence] I am kept away from international campaign to highlight human rights violation in Balochistan,” Mr. Bugti said.
“I hope that the Indian people, who gave refuge to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and supported Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, would recognise the risk that I am facing,” he said.
Mr. Bugti says that Switzerland is denying him his rights wrongly, and argues that he has never been an armed insurgent. He added that he was worried for the safety of his family and followers who have accompanied him from Afghanistan to Switzerland.
His grandfather Akbar Bugti died after President Pervez Musharraf in 2006 ordered a crackdown on him and his followers who lived in the mountains of Balochistan. Mr Bugti narrowly escaped the operation and fled to Afghanistan where he procured a passport. He then moved to Geneva along with his companions in 2010.
But any further travel will not possible as Mr Bugti is now a well known figure due to his statements in the media. His demand for Indian official documents, experts say, would prove to be a diplomatic challenge for India as recently, India denied dissident Dolkun Isa of China a visa to participate in a conference for similar charges.
However, there are areas of sovereign decision making that can be cited while granting a visa or a temporary Indian ID to Mr Bugti and his companions. Former diplomat Kanwal Sibal, told The Hindu that India can also help Mr Bugti by preventing international organisations like the Interpol from accepting Pakistan’s case against Mr Bugti.
“Interpol needs to study Pakistan’s case and it could be a long drawn process,” Mr Sibal told The Hindu. “We have issued several Red notices against criminals like Dawood Ibrahim that Pakistan has ignored. So India too can ignore such notices issued by Pakistan,” he said.
Former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh has however, advised “caution”.
“India should study his case well before granting him asylum. Caution is the need of the hour as he is the leader of a powerful tribe which has widespread control over a strategic piece of land,” Mr Singh said.