Another Baloch leader has rejoined the fold – or at least intimated that he won’t be averse to rejoining when the time comes. On the ninth death anniversary of the Baloch nationalist leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, his grandson, Brahumdagh Bugti, spoke to the BBC with a startling shift in his stance. The self-exiled leader of the Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) was far from his usual uncompromising self; saying that dialogue is a viable option for peace in the province, and that given adequate terms he would be willing to give up the demand for a separate Baloch state.

He tried to temper his policy change with provisos – lest the hardliners in the separatist ranks target him – saying that he would take the final decision after consultation with his allies, and only if the Baloch people willed it. Although, it might have made more sense to confer with them before making a statement of his policy. While his agreement is dotted with demands, assurances and cravats, one thing is clear, he is willing to come to the table – the rest is just bargaining. Brahumdagh Bugti joins the growing list of key Baloch leaders who have coaxed by the government into adopting more ‘loyal’ stances. The government has made intelligent and timely advances to the various tribal leaders and politicians, even as the military operation rounded up the remaining armed groups and accepted surrenders of the rest. For this, they must be applauded; reconciliation and force have gone hand in hand, a prudent combination not often seen in Pakistan. A radical shift in Baloch politics is on the cards if the state effectively reconciles Baloch leaders and ends the insurgency.

When questioned about India’s role in funding and arming his group, Bugti sagely said that “We won’t decline if India offers to assist us because everyone could seek assistance from anyone for defence”. No they cannot. This is exactly the kind of thing that invites the label ‘traitor’ and makes Baloch nationalism all the more misunderstood. If he wishes to talk to the state, them he must deny assistance from India at all costs.

While it was understandable, forgivable even, that Brahumdagh Bugti had to repeat past secessionist arguments and anti-state rhetoric to still maintain some traction with his followers following such a policy shift, he ended up choosing the worst line; one that has to be dropped if he wishes to seriously re-enter Pakistan.

Bugti talks about how the state’s current conciliatory mood is due to it having “suffered a defeat in a way on the Balochistan issue and it would have to concede that its modus operandi was wrong”. Trying to spin events into a narrative that is reassuring is a good coping mechanism, but there is difference between healthy spin and plain falsehood. The state’s modus operandi has been right on the money, forcing Baloch leader after leader to sue for peace. Bugti is the one compromising, not the state.