Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday referred to Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in his Independence Day address in the Capital, garnering a quick reaction from the neighbouring country. Modi had said, "Today from the ramparts of Red Fort, I want to greet and express my thanks to some people. In the last few days, people of Balochistan, Gilgit, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have thanked me, have expressed gratitude, and expressed good wishes for me. The people who are living far away, whom I have never seen, never met – such people have expressed appreciation for Prime Minister of India, for 125 crore countrymen."
The Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan responded to Modi's speech, and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz said, "PM Modi’s reference to Balochistan, which is an integral part of Pakistan, only proves Pakistan’s contention that India through intelligence agency RAW has been fomenting terrorism in Balochistan."
The prime minister had recently also said he will take up the incidents of atrocities and human rights violation in Balochistan orchestrated by the Pakistan government, reported The Hindu. After the news surfaced, several Baloch groups have reportedly thanked Modi on social media for his support.
Opposition leaders also criticised Modi for bringing up the contentious region in his speech. Congress leader Kapil Sibal termed the Baloch freedom struggle reference in Modi's speech "unnecessary". He said the prime minister spoke on "vague matters", while he should have informed the country about what his government did in the past one year. "The prime minister should have applied his mind and addressed the nation, but the real issues were absent in prime minister’s address. Instead we had some reference to Balochistan and I don’t know who advised him to raise that issue from the ramparts of the Red Fort," the senior Supreme Court lawyer said, according to The Indian Express.
Former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also said Modi should not have spoken about Balochistan during his address. “Is Balochistan a part of India? Doesn’t India believe in Panchsheel? Is it not a departure from that?” He said that by raising Balochistan, the government is “ruining our case on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” he said.