US-based Baloch activist says he heckled Pakistani PM at Indian spy agency's behest

Murtaza Ali Shah
Photo shows US-based journalist Ahmer Mustikhan heckling former Pakistan Prime Minister during a speech at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) on October 22, 2015.

LONDON/WASHINGTON: A prominent Baloch activist has claimed that he heckled former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his speech in October 2015 in Washington at the behest of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Ahmer Mustikhan, a senior journalist from Balochistan who has worked in newsrooms in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and the United States and is now based in the US capital, has released three video statements in which he claims he was "let down" by RAW operatives working from the Indian embassy in Washington. He named one of the RAW operatives as Nagesh Bhushan, saying he worked on the Indian spy agency's Balochistan Desk.

On October 22, 2015, Ahmer Mustikhan had heckled Pakistan’s visiting prime minister during his speech at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) for many minutes before he was whisked out of the room by security personnel. Indian news channels used the heckling incident to run news and talk shows, featuring Ahmer Mustikhan and his views.

Mustikhan now claims the Indian spy agency had asked him to heckle then-prime minister Sharif and embarrass him by bringing up the issue of Balochistan during the event.

Mustikhan says in a series of videos that he "was promised huge help by those who were interested in the heckling of Nawaz Sharif. None of those promises were ever fulfilled. There was this gentleman in the Indian embassy who left (for India) in January and never fulfilled his promise. There were other things that happened too," said Mustikhan in his broadcast.

Ahmer Mustikhan

During the same visit when Sharif addressed the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, Mustikhan led a protest against Pakistan outside the venue for an organisation called “Free Balochistan Campaign USA” and accused the Pakistani premier of being involved in human rights violations in Balochistan and supporting Bin Laden.

Mustikhan said in the first video that he been a long-standing friend of India and openly sang "Jeeay Hind, Banday Mahatram and Long Live India", but his heart has been broken and that he was let down by RAW operatives.

He alleged in the video that RAW had given three Baloch militant groups $15 million each in the last few years.

"RAW's system is so corrupt that its high officials keep 40 percent of what's earmarked. India should have been engaged in public diplomacy and helping those who are involved in raising the profile of Balochistan issue but while China is trying to build, India is choosing to bomb. India is going in the opposite direction—it should have helped the people who are involved in diplomatic effort," he said.

"Modi promised to have a clean government but that's not happening. They (RAW) are promoting militants and people like Nagesh Bhushan are running dirty campaigns against me."

In the third video, Mustikhan named three Balochistan-based militant groups which, he alleged, received funds from India for militant activities. Among others, he also named the World Baloch Organisation (WBO) and Balochistan House which have been running poster campaigns against Pakistan in Geneva, London, Washington and New York.

He alleged that Balochistan House was run by Mehran Baloch, a former unofficial representative of Balochistan at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva whose entry into the country was recently banned by the Swiss government. Mehran Baloch has denied having any links with militancy and has launched an appeal against his ban.

Photo shows Ahmer Mustikhan being whisked away by security personnel during an even at the USIP in October 2015.

Mustikhan said that the "Free Balochistan" campaign in America was funded by the Indian Embassy in Washington. "This is waste of Indian taxpayers' money. RAW is a bogus organisation. Is there any accountability for RAW? How can they put adverts for militant groups?" questioned Mustikhan.

Allegations by Mustikhan against RAW are significant because he has been promoted widely on the Indian media in recent years. He has been a regular guest on right-wing talk shows and Indian news media has often quoted him on his anti-Pakistan activities.

Mustikhan is founder of the American Friends of Balochistan (AFB), which has organised protests against Pakistan in Washington and elsewhere and has campaigned in support of India. He has recently campaigned in favour of Kulbushan Jadhav, an Indian intelligence officer arrested in Pakistan on espionage charges, demanding his release and alleging that his trial "violated all norms of international law".

He staged a protest recently in favour of Chetankul Jadhav, wife of Indian intelligence officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. He has written articles in praise of Senator Rand Paul and House of Representatives members Dana Rohrabacher, Louie Gohmert, Steve King, Brad Sherman, and Tulsi Gabbard and other lawmakers who have spoken against Pakistan.