Another Baluch leader comes knocking on Indian door. It may be a co-incidence; Mir Mazdak Dilshad Baloch is in India for the next two months, following the footsteps of his mother Naela Qadri Baloch.
Mir Mazdak is in India looking to raise awareness about the Pakistani genocide in Baluchistan.
Modi’s mentioning of the B-word from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day has been seen by Baluch leaders in exile as a sign of hope. Mir Mazdak is no different. “It is my hope,’’ he said.
“You can see the impact in the region. Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has backed the statement.”
The reaction of Pakistan to the statement made by Modi was also an indication on how much this will become a hot press button issue. Pakistan has appointed 22 envoys across different countries to lobby for the Kashmir cause and highlight India’s “human rights violations’’ internationally.
Baluch leaders hope that India will do the same—push their case internationally. So far, apart from the statement, India has not defined its policy on Baluchistan. The MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “How this is expressed in our diplomacy is something you will have to wait and see.”
The problem is that the Baluch have waited for 70 years for India to speak out. Mir Mazdak believes that Modi’s statement—which is the first time that India has used the word publicly—is a significant move forward. “Modi has a big mandate," he says. He also believes that the international climate has changed. “Wherever I go in cafés, I hear people talking about Baluchistan.”
Mir Mazdak believes it's time to use this space to mould public opinion. “Modi did not say anything about human rights but you can read in between the lines.” Young, articulate and 25, Mir Mazdar is on a mission to get people to support his cause. “I can’t wear this Baluch cap in Pakistan," he says. “In the 70 years since 1947, the Pakistanis have not learnt how to say my name. They call us Baluchi.”
For the most part, India may not be unwilling to define its position or even policy on Baluchistan—but it has certainly started using its soft power to spread the Baluch story. The state-owned _Doordarshan _channel recently interviewed rebel Baloch leader Nawab Brahumdagh Khan Bugti. A crew was sent to Geneva. This was a first. Is this a change?