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Friday, September 23, 2016

How All India Radio changed the fate of Balochistan



It was a déjà vu of sorts when the Modi government launched a website and mobile app for All India Radio’s (AIR) Balochi service. More than 68 years ago, it was the same AIR and its fateful broadcast on March 27, 1948, that sealed the fate of Balochistan and its people. The very next day, the Pakistani military moved in with tanks, ships and aircraft, and Balochis lost their freedom forever. India’s Balochistan story may not be well-known today but, historically and strategically, it has been as indicting as the great Nehruvian gaffe on Kashmir. Out of a misplaced sense of priority and strategic myopia, the Nehru government refused to help the then Baloch state of Kalat, which was trying to strike a deal with New Delhi to avoid Pakistani occupation. The story goes that the Khan of Kalat was in discussion with the top Congress leadership on the issue of Balochistan in 1946. In fact, one of his representatives even met Abul Kalam Azad, the then Congress president, but the Maulana questioned the very idea of Balochistan as an independent nation. Worse, if a report by a Britain-based think tank, Foreign Policy Centre, is to be believed, Nehru returned the accession papers signed by the Khan of Kalat in 1947. 

Kalat, which comprised nearly all of Balochistan barring three minor principalities, was an independent nation when the British left the subcontinent. Ironically, it was Jinnah who had helped the Khan of Kalat, in his capacity as a lawyer, to prepare his brief for Balochistan’s independence. What provoked Jinnah into immediate action was an AIR broadcast on March 27, 1948, which reported a press conference by VP Menon, a civil servant who played a key role during India’s Partition, saying the Khan “was pressing India to accept Kalat’s accession”, but “India would have nothing to do with it”. The very next day, Sardar Patel issued a clarification saying no such request had come, but the damage was already done. The Pakistani Army had already reached Kalat, which was forcibly converted into a province of Pakistan. All, India could do was watch the annexation. Maybe the Nehru government failed to see the strategic significance of an independent Balochistan. Or maybe the Indian establishment genuinely wanted it to be merged with Pakistan.

After all, India’s foreign policy at that time was dictated by moral values and ideological moorings, rather than pragmatic demands. (Remember, how we had snubbed the US for offering us a permanent membership of the UN Security Council, in favour of China!) The first AIR broadcast sealed the fate of the Baluchis. One hopes the second broadcast gets them what was denied in 1948. India must support their struggle for freedom. 

Source and Credit :- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3797114/How-India-Radio-changed-fate-Balochistan.html
Forwarded by :- Shri. Jainendra Nigam PB News Desk   prasarbharati.newsdesk@gmail.com 

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