American Congressmen, Defense Analyst Stress Balochistan’s Right To Self Determination By Malik Siraj Akbar

Not only did he reiterate his support for an independent Balochistan in Rayburn House Office Building’s Room 2200 on Wednesday but he was also joined by four more legislators, from both the Republican and Democratic parties,

WASHINGTON DC: “This is not a political stunt,” said Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher while looking into the eyes of Georgetown University Professor C. Christine Fair as he concluded an extraordinary hearing of the US House committee on Foreign Affair.

Rohrabacher, who had recently co-authored an article supporting Balochistan’s independence , did not say his remarks had been taken out of context. He seemed to have actually meant what he had written earlier. Not only did he reiterate his support for an independent Balochistan in Rayburn House Office Building’s Room 2200 on Wednesday but he was also joined by four more legislators, from both the Republican and Democratic parties, a renowned defense expert and an American-Baloch lawyer who stressed and somewhat endorsed the idea of giving the Baloch the right to self-determination through redrawing the colonial borders.

“We believe in self-determination and democracy. We believe people have the right to speak up. If the United States intervenes to maintain a status quo of border lines, which is what we seem to be doing, this is not consistent with our national interests and traditions at all,” he said in his opening remarks as a distinguished panel of five reputed witnesses listened and awaited their respective turns, “I think America needs to reexamine this issue [or borders drawn by the colonial powers] and have a heartfelt debate about what should motivate America to get involved…if someone is helping kill Americans or threatening to set-up some sort of dictatorship, we should not be on their side and helping them.”

Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, who had also recently called for creating an independent Balochsitan,was the next. This time, was angrier at Islamabad and more passionate about an independent Balochistan.

“When you have a place in the world that was forced to be a part of another country in 1948 as Balochistan was and then in that same country the people who are native to that country are harassed and what some of us would consider to be human rights of dignity that every human being should be afforded are violated on a regular basis by the national government. And then further that government goes on to, whether this is official or unofficial, to furnish supplies, encouragement to our enemies… the supplies and IEDs are coming to Taliban are coming from the area of Balochistan…It would make the United States very happy to see, it would make the people of Afghanistan happy to see that the Taliban were no longer provided weapons to inflict harm them and it would make the Balochs happy, from my discussions them that they were allowed to live in peace without being subjected to horror from their own government.”

He went on.

“It is greatly disturbing to hear that the weapons we have provided to Pakistan have been utilized to create human rights violations. This is particularly disturbing. This is not what this nation is about. Since we are trying to get out of Afghanistan and turn that country over to them, the quicker we could stop assisting Pakistan and funding the Taliban that we are trying to fight which is also also creating human rights violations against Balochistan, it sounds like we could create a ‘real win’ for the United States, Balochistan, Balochs, for people of Afghanistan if we just quit helping Pakistan help all of our enemies.

Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman spoke how Islamabad mistreated the Baloch and Sindhi populations and said that at this critical time the US could not afford to ignore the southern part of Pakistan.

“The people of Balochistan and Sindh and their culture lives are under attack. Political activities are subject to arrests, disappearances, torture and even killing. I believe the US should reach out to these unrepresented segments of the Pakistani population. The Baloch people are culturally and traditionally regarded as moderate and secular… They have a culture that can be consistent with the American values. A significant part of the people of Sindh of course are Baloch ethnically or have Baloch origins,” he remarked.

Another Republican Congressman Ted Poe said, “I am a great believer in self self-determination for peoples who believe in it in Balochistan. Somebody over there in Balochistan has been reading a declaration of independence that gives a justification, a moral and legal reason why people can seprate themselves from abusive governments. So, we will see how that plays out. We don’t need to continue to give the American money to Pakistan at all; not a dime. They have proven that they don’t deserve it and it is not in our national interest.

Congressman Russ Carnahan, while quoting the recent statement of the State Department spokesperson, urged the US officials to discuss the issue of Balochistan and human rights violations there with their Pakistani counterparts during diplomatic interactions.

“With the significant investment of US funding in Pakistan, it’s Congress’ job to make sure that we are getting the return of the investment that our taxpayers deserve. We have to ensure that every dollar of US taxpayer’s funding is being used properly and in our interest. It’s critical that Pakistan ensures the integrity of its own people, including the people of Balochistan. As the US, the UN and NATO continue in Afghanistan, the Afghan-Balochistan border remains critical,” he said.

A group of five witnesses testified before the Congressional committee about the political and economic situation in Balochistan.

Internationally acclaimed defense analyst Ralph Peters said it was an “incontrovertible fact” that Balochistan was an “occupied territory which never willingly acceded to Pakistan and now does not wish to be a part of Pakistan.

“If a plebiscite or referendum is to be held tomorrow, it [Balochistan] wold vote to leave Pakistan,” he said.

Georgetown University assistant professor C. Christine Fair said Balochistan shared many similarities with Kashmir as many Balochs did not want to join the union of Pakistan “from day one”.

“Everyone knows that Balochistan has been a restive province. Many Balochs did not want to join the union of Pakistan from day one and in that sense it shares many similarities with Kashmir. Kashmir was also forcibly annexed and many of the challenges that we see happening vis-a-vis Balochistan could also be said about the situation in Kashmir,” she noted.

Amnesty International’s Director for International Advocacy Mr. T. Kumar reconfirmed that weapons the United States had provided to Pakistan to fight the war against Taliban were used to crush the Baloch despite the US presence in Afghanistan in Balochistan’s neighborhood.

“The weapons that were used against them [Baloch] were unfortunatley manifactured and given to them [Pakistan army] by the US,” he said,” Couple of years back, I asked the governor of Balochistan at the USIP [United States Institute for Peace], whose weapons they were using and he said ‘oh, the American weapons’. Because there were no conditions.”

Mr. Hussain Bor, an American Baloch lawyer said Balochs were natural allies of the United States and an independent Balochistan would offer naval bases to the United States because the Balochs were secular and against the Pakistan-Taliban alliance.

“The Baloch don’t want the Iranian gas pipeline to go to Pakistan in violation of the US sanction,” he said.

Pakistan Director of the Human Rights Watch Ali Dayan Hasan said the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies were responsible for the bulk of trouble in Balochistan where it served like a colonial army. However, his field research in Balochistan had also discovered that Baloch nationalists had also committed excesses against non-Baloch.

Ali said the Pakistani army had misused the context of the war on terror and subjected political opponents to war the war on terror.

“Pakistan has abjectly failed to ensure the rule of law which is creating a human rights crisis across Balochistan,”he commented.

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