A former chief minister of Balochistan, Akhtar Mengal, has said that both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are using conflict-ridden states in their countries to gain political mileage. The head of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal was speaking at a press event in Karachi on Sunday, Dawn reported.

“He [Modi] has no interest in Balochistan or its people; his statements are just that: statements. Similarly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is not interested in Kashmir or Kashmiris, either. Both the premiers are playing politics over dead bodies,” he said, according to the Pakistani daily.

Mengal also suggested that Islamabad pays far closer attention to the grievances of Kashmiris than those in Balochistan, which he called “a politically isolated and orphaned province”. He added that he was in favour of parliamentary politics in Balochistan, rather than “strong-arm tactics by either side”.

Mengal served as chief minister of Balochistan in 1997-1998. He has been arrested for his activism at various times by the Pakistani government, and also lived in exile for several years. He returned to Pakistan to contest the general elections in 2013.

The cross-border row about Balochistan began after Pakistan dedicated its Independence Day in August to the “freedom of Kashmir”, following which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought up alleged human rights abuses in the disputed region during his own Independence Day remarks.