NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi by referring to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Balochistan+ in his Independence Day speech has sought to rid India of its almost ingrained diffidence in dealing with the Kashmir issue. While it may or may not signify a fundamental shift in India's Pakistan policy, his decision to raise the stakes on Kashmir by highlighting Pakistan's own failings in G-B and Balochistan is going down well with India's strategic community. PM Modi's comments about goodwill for India in Balochistan+ and G-B, which were not backed by any substantive outreach to Kashmir though, followed a slew of provocative remarks from Pakistan, not least the one by its high commissioner Abdul Basit dedicating Pakistan's Independence Day to freedom of Kashmiris. Of particular significance is PM's reference to Balochistan+ as India is now effectively speaking Pakistan's language in suggesting at least moral and political support forBaloch separatists+ . While former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said PM Modi deserved applause for responding directly to unrestrained comments on the Kashmir crisis by his counterpart Nawaz Sharif himself, India's former envoy to Pakistan G Parthasarathy described Modi's remarks as a long overdue and more realistic approach to Pakistan. "India has been more restrained than necessary so far despite Pakistan constantly carrying out a propaganda on Kashmir, saying it is the legacy of Partition. If that's the case, Balochistan also is a legacy of Partition+ ," said Parthasarathy, recalling how Jinnah had recognised Balochistan's independent status before Pakistan obtained its accession. In the immediate run though, what Modi's Balochistan and G-B offensive+ means for his famous Lahore initiative, which saw him dropping by in Sharif's home town ostensibly for the marriage of Sharif's daughter last year, will be of immense interest. The government has until now highlighted Modi's personal bond with Sharif and sought to make a distinction between the civilian government and the Pakistan army in dealing with issues related to crossborder terrorism. Even though Saarc is not just about India and Pakistan, many saw the decision to send Union home minister to Islamabad recently for a conference of the South Asian body as an attempt to keep Modi's Lahore outreach alive. In his speech though, while PM Modi referred to his decision to invite Sharif for his swearing-in in 2014, he made no mention of his Lahore visit. "PM is implicitly admitting that his efforts have not succeeded and that a tougher public line is required," said Sibal. While the decision to send Rajnath Singh to Pakistan was also seen as an attempt by the government to keep a door open for Modi's own possible visit to Islamabad in November for the Saarc summit. Sibal, however, said Modi will have to carefully weigh his options. "PM will be faced with a very difficult choice unless there is a significant change of attitude in Pakistan, which I suspect won't happen? Can he bury his Saarc initiative? Saarc may not be about India and Pakistan alone, but if he goes the visit will come under excessive focus and there'll be hopes of a breakthrough," he said. The reference to G-B though in the I-Day speech, as Sibal pointed out, is also important in the context of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). With China refusing to halt its activities in the region, despite Modi himself having expressed concerns before Chinese leaders on several occasions, the government believes PM has also indicated to Beijing how strongly India feels about China's infrastructure projects, both civil and military, coming up in a region India considers its integral part. Pakistan has in the recent past worked to impart G-B a semblance of self-governance and held elections there in 2015. Indian government, however, described the elections as an attempt to "camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation" of the regions which are an integral part of India.