Baloch separatist leader Bugti says will seek asylum in India

Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti on Monday said he will seek asylum in India. Bugti, president of the outlawed Baloch Republican Party and the grandson of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, has been living in self-imposed exile in Switzerland since his grandfather was killed in an encounter with the Pakistani army a decade ago.

His decision to apply for asylum in India comes days after media reports showed the Pakistani government had sped up the process of obtaining Interpol’s red warrants against the Baloch separatist leader.

“My understanding is that the move by Pakistan comes in response to the references on Balochistan made by the Indian Prime Minister,” analyst Akbar Zaidi said.

In a first for an Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi had hit out at Pakistan in his Independence Day address from the ramparts of Red Fort, raking up alleged human rights abuses in Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“I want to tell all that I got tremendous response from people belonging to Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The way they have complimented me (for the stand in an all-party meeting), I am grateful to them,” the PM said.

The mention was in line with the government’s decision to hit back at Pakistan for allegedly stoking unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Modi said the time had come to expose the plight of people and the atrocities committed by Pakistan.

Bugti had lauded Modi’s reference to Balochistan as the “most powerful statement” in the last seven decades.

“It is for the first time that an Indian Prime Minister has spoken.”

“We believe that India should have taken this step a long time ago,” he said, adding that he is convinced about Balochistan’s freedom. “I am thoroughly indebted to Prime Minister Modi … for raising the voice of Baloch people in his Independence Day address.”

Bugti has claimed widespread human rights violations by Pakistan against the Baloch. He said use of aerial bombardment and deadly gases have become routine, and Balochistan has become the world capital of missing people.

“We are political people. We want to solve this with peaceful means. But there is no way we are going to be part of the Pakistan any more. We want freedom of Pakistan,” he said.

Bugti reportedly plans to travel around the world on Indian papers and campaign against Pakistan. The Baloch Republican Party has also decided to file criminal cases against Pakistani army generals at international criminal courts.

This story was published in Hindustan Times.
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