No shift in stance, but Modi has given ‘certain instructions’: Vikas Swarup on Balochistan comment

New Delhi: Amid a debate over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on Balochistan in his Independence Day address, External Affairs Ministry indicated on Thursday that the remarks did not constitute a policy shift as being construed. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Prime Minister had been thanked by people of Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan, for flagging their problems at an all-party meeting here last week and, moved by their messages, he talked about them in his speech from the Red Fort.

At the same time, he said, Modi also gave “certain instructions” on the next course of action but refused to divulge details or how those instructions will be implemented. “I cannot at this stage share with you. However, MEA will do what it has to because after all people of PoK are also our people,” he said. On Modi’s mention of Balochistan he said, “As to whether this constitutes a policy shift, let me say that Government of India has made statements about the situation in Balochistan in the past as well. My own predecessor had commented on this issue. The only difference this time was that the various messages the Prime Minister had received had sufficiently moved him to share it with the people of India.”

In his Independence Day speech on Monday, Modi had talked about the situation in PoK, Gilgit and Balochistan and said people from there have thanked him for raising their issues. “The Prime Minister had been thanked by these people for flagging their cause in the all-party meeting which represents all political segments in India. Prime Minister was sufficiently moved by these messages of gratitude to share it with the people of India in his Independence Day address.” When asked about certain Baloch groups seeking recognition from India, the MEA spokesperson said,”Don’t jump the gun”.