Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s attempt to link the Indian occupation of Kashmir with the separatist movement of Balochistan in his recent speech seems to have backfired. Instead of drawing support from Balochistan for his statements on the “plight of the Baloch’, the province saw several rallies taken out different cities – all holding up Pakistan flags and rejecting the statements made by the Indian Prime Minister.

Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri summed up the mood at these rallies as a “referendum” against Modi, and while the rallies represent a small cross section of the society, no one can deny the gulf of difference between the Baloch separatist movement – kept alive by leaders in self-exile – with Kashmir – where a popular grass root movement is being suppressed by heavy military presence at great cost to human life. Coupled with the statement’s of the Foreign Office, which invited UN representatives to visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and see for themselves the peaceful and prosperous conditions of that province compared to Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), India’s attempt to discredit the Kashmir movement by implying that Pakistan is similarly occupying territory has instead drawn focus to the atrocities of the Indian regime.

Furthermore, India’s comments on Balochistan – with which it shares no border and on which it has no claim – has been interpreted by Pakistani authorities as proof of the fact that India carries out subversive activities in the province just to destabilise Pakistan. While in India, there is no proof that Pakistan is linked to any seditious movements, and there are many in India. Kashmir is a legitimate flashpoint between the two– Balochistan has nothing to do with India. Pakistan’s concern in Kashmir is justified; India’s in Balochistan is not.

How this will impact the tentative dialogue process between the two countries remains to be seen, although in and of itself the overtures of India does not invite confidence in its success. By bringing up Balochistan, India has made the Kashmir conversation a lot wider, and invited many more stakeholders in the overall narrative – a move that will ultimately may not be to it’s advantage. If India can expand the conversation to Balochistan, why it refuses to talk about Kashmir points to logical flaws in India’s diplomatic strategy. The fact is that India is trying to vilify Pakistan in anyway that it can, without sparking a military conflict. In that flurry to throw mud at us, some of it had stuck to India itself.