NEW DELHI: Signalling a seismic shift in India’s foreign policy, Press Information Bureau (PIB) of India retweeted Baloch leaders’ tweets, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
The PIB strategy came following Modi’s exhortation during the recent all-party meeting on Kashmir where he highlighted the plight of the people in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and directed the foreign ministry to get in touch with exiled Baloch leaders.
For the first time, the PIB retweeted President of Baloch Republican Party Barhumdagh Bugti’s tweet welcoming the Prime Minister’s statement on Balochistan. A string of tweets found its way on to the PIB page and one of them read, “Pakistani forces intensified barbaric military operation in Dera Bugti. 19 Baloch civilians have been killed since yesterday (Sunday).”
Bugti is the founder of the Baloch Republican Party, a Baloch nationalist group that favours Balochistan independence and is hence banned in Pakistan. Pakistan has accused him of leading the Baloch Republican Army, a designated terrorist organisation. Bugti has been living in exile since 2006 — first in Afghanistan and then in Switzerland.
The PIB is the nodal agency for disseminating information on the government to the media. Since the Bureau, an official body, has retweeted views of Baloch leaders seeking freedom from Pakistan, it is a manifestation of the paradigm shift in India’s foreign policy. Bugti welcoming India’s stance, tweeted: “We appreciate the statement of Prime Minister of India. World’s largest democracy and being a responsible neighbour, India should intervene in Balochistan.” India’s support to the cause of Balochistan resonated in Pakistan with Balochistan trending on Twitter and other social media platforms on Monday. Pakistanis were evidently ‘upset’ while the Balochs showered praises on India.