ISLAMABAD: A visiting US Congressional delegation assured Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday that both Republicans and Democrats were united in opposing a resolution about Balochistan in the House of Representatives.
“The Congressmen categorically stated that Republicans and Democrats, as well as the US government, were against the resolution tabled… at the sub-committee level. US supported Pakistan’s security and territorial integrity,” Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement issued after the bipartisan delegation led by David Dreier, who heads the powerful House Rules Committee, met Mr Gilani.
The delegation is visiting the country under the US-Pakistan Legislative Exchange Programme. Members of the group will meet legislators and attend workshop organised by the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services.
Conveying government’s resentment over the resolution on Balochistan moved in the House of Representatives by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, the prime minister said: “The people of Pakistan expect the US to be mindful and respectful of Pakistan’s national interests and, in particular, Pakistan’s security and territorial integrity.”
The resolution calling for recognition of Balochistan’s right to self-determination, introduced last week, has riled Pakistan and it is feared that it could become another flashpoint in the complicated bilateral relationship.
The acting ambassador of the US was summoned to the Foreign Office after Rep Rohrabacher tabled the resolution and told that it “was contrary to the spirit of friendly relations and violative of the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and recognised norms of inter-state conduct”.
Prime Minister Gilani had also denounced it as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Even though the Obama administration has distanced itself from the issue, the fears about sudden US concerns about the situation in the province aren’t dying down primarily due to a yawning trust deficit between the two allies in the war on terror.
The Congressmen agreed that the trust deficit needed to be removed for stabilising the relationship. They saw a role for the legislators of both countries for rebuilding the missing confidence.
The prime minister reminded them of sacrifices given by Pakistan in the war on terror.
Responding to a message delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her private meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on the sidelines of the London Conference on Somalia, that she wanted “to get back into business with Pakistan”, he said Pakistan wanted to have excellent relations with the US.
However, he emphasised that the relationship should not be transactional. “It is important to follow a partnership approach based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
Prime Minister Gilani also called for Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan being on the same page with regard to a peaceful settlement of the Afghan war.