New Delhi: The Baloch National Movement (BNM), which is fighting to free Balochistan from Pakistani occupation and make it an independent country, wants the Indian government to recognise the Pak province, situated on its western borders with Iran, as a sovereign country and states that it is the right time to bring into existence a government-in-exile that can function from Delhi till the time Balochistan achieves freedom.

“The Baloch National Movement is prepared to run the government-in-exile from a place in India as decided by the government of India. Pakistan is ruling Balochistan through gun and death. Despite abduction and killing of our leaders and cadres, we are fighting for a separate Balochistan along with other groups. This is not an individual struggle but is being carried out by the people,” BNM chairman Khalil Baloch told The Sunday Guardian.

BNM is the largest Baloch nationalist political organization in the region. Its founder Ghulam Mohammed Baloch was assassinated by the Pakistan army in April 2009 after which its leaders went underground.

In his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a first such step by any Indian PM, mentioned about the Balochistan struggle which re-ignited the hopes of the Balochs that the Indian government, after paying only lip service for all these years, was finally going to do something substantial for them.

However, the issue was again put on the backburner. According to sources in India, the political leadership of the country was advised by the bureaucracy to not to take up the Balochistan issue further as it could have led to negative reactions from Pakistan.

This was also confirmed by the officials involved in the Baloch movement who said that the issue was forgotten after the initial talks on the line of what India could do to help the Balochs.

The fact that certain Baloch leaders, who are not living in Balochistan but claim to represent the interest of the Balcoh movement, started fighting among themselves over the issue of who is the true representative of the Balochs, also dissuaded the Indian government from moving on the issue further.

“Pakistan army has opened camps operated by Lashkar-e-Taiba in the region after the 2013 earthquake. One of the main purposes behind this was to indoctrinate the Balochs on religious lines, but that did not work as Balochs totally shun extremism of any kind which is one reason that we have never been able to assimilate into Pakistan which is founded on Islamic extremism,” Khalil Baloch said.

“We are very hopeful that the present government in India will move decisively towards this as unless and until India helps us, other countries will not recognise Balochistan as a separate country. Establishing a government-in-exile will go a long way in achieving our goal,” he added.

According to him, the Pakistan army has used fighter jets, Cobra and Apache helicopters to eliminate the cadres of Baloch nationalist struggle but so far they have not been able to suppress the movement. As per the numbers provided by the Baloch activists, they had carried out as many as 389 attacks on the Pakistani army in which 553 Pak soldiers were killed in 2018 alone. This paper, however, has not been able to independently verify the figures.

“We are already running a government system here that is being supported by the local Balochs. Recently, our courts settled a 30-year-old dispute among the locals that was pending in the Pakistani court. People believe us and trust us. So all we need is a little help from the Indian government to achieve our goal,” the BNM leader concluded.