Her mannerism is affable; her cause incendiary. Activist Naela Quadri Baloch has been traveling from one city to another in India mobilizing Indians to do what Prime Minister Indira Gandhi did in East Pakistan in 1971. World Baloch Women’s Forum President Naela Quadri wants India to liberate Balochistan from Pakistan, the way Bangladesh was.
Indian policy makers have rejected such a proposition for the last 68 years even as Pakistan accuses India of meddling in Balochistan’s affairs. However, in the last one year, Naela is the second Baloch activist who has been allowed to visit India and publicly make a pitch for independent secular democratic Balochistan.
Camping in India for the last three weeks, the 50-year-old activist on Wednesday told the in her soft-spoken voice that if India and the world failed to intervene and prevent the “ongoing genocide” of her people in Pakistan, Baloch insurgents would be forced to take their war to the heart of Pakistan. “Till now Baloch people have not attacked Pakistan. We only defend ourselves against Pakistani attacks. But how long shall we wait? I can foresee the battlefield will shift to Pakistan,” threatened Naela who along with her family is self-exiled in Canada.
The firebrand who is also a professor of humanities and a staunch feminist claimed that Balochistan was facing the same situation that Bengali Muslims suffered in 1971 at the hands of Pakistan. She asked, “If Indira ji, with all her limitations, could do it, why can’t Modi who has got an exceptional mandate, a flourishing economy and enormous international support?”
Not mincing her words, the proud Baloch called Pakistan “a nursery and hatchery of terrorism”, “a cancer” that needs to be “operated upon”. Repositioning her black ethnic stole, Naela said, “Wherever there is terror, the roots are found in Pakistan. So what we are saying is—let us join hands, let us do a surgery, remove this cancer and let the world stay in peace. We are seeking support from the whole world but the biggest responsibility is India’s. Pakistan is part and problem of India. Why has India imposed this cancer on us? It was Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Nehru’s responsibility not to divide India. I am sorry, Partition was not a fair decision. You threw it on us, now take it back.”
Balochistan’s independence, she said, would not trigger separatist movements in India. “Indian identity is all inclusive; it allows every ethnic or religious group to prosper. There may be some amount of discrimination or discontent because of flaws in the system, but what I saw here in the last few weeks is that Indian Muslim communities are completely assimilated and at peace with other communities,” Naela observed.