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WASHINGTON: Baloch nationalists in the US have formed a new group with the aim to struggle for Balochistan’s rights within the Pakistani federation.

The Baloch Council of North America was formed after dissolving another group called the Baloch Society of North America, which was associated with the Baloch resistance.

Earlier this week, the former group had disassociated itself from the so-called war of independence in Balochistan, saying that this war only benefitted Khans, Nawabs and Sardars. It vowed to work within the Pakistani federation with the elected Balochis­tan government to eliminate discrimination against the Baloch people.

“This body asks all the Baloch and non-Baloch extremist groups to shun militancy and violence and lay down their arms and help Balochistan’s government to bring peace and stability in

Balochistan,” said a statement issued by the new body.

The group also pledged “not to work against the national integrity of Pakistan and not to be a part of those who are trying to break up the country”.

“Why should we, the ordinary middle class Baloch, fight this so-called war of independence of these Khans, Nawabs and Sardars and get ourselves killed for them?” asked Dr Wahid Baloch, the group’s leader.

Dr Baloch said if the leaders of the resistance movement were sincere with Balochistan, they should go back and fight this war instead of asking the middle class Balochs to die for them.

“We ask the Baloch people not to be misguided and brainwashed by the fancy slogans of these Khan, Nawabs and Sardars as they are not there for ordinary Baloch but they only want to use them as the bargaining chip”.

The group also issued a set of aims and objectives, pledging to:

• To unite all Baloch people to secure their rights, including the right of self-determination, within the Pakistani Federation.

• Pursue these aims exclusively through non-violent means.

Promote and preserve the Baloch secular identity, Balochi language, culture and traditions.

• Promote friendship, tolerance, mutual respect, understanding and cooperation among the various nations and ethnic groups within Pakistan.

• Defend the rights of all nationalities, ethnic groups and religious minorities in Pakistan.

• Protect women and children from exploitation, abuse, honour killings and child labour.

• Protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press and ensure equal protection under the law for all citizens.

Support, defend and protect all democratic and national institutions in Pakistan.

• Denounce terrorism, violence and extremism in all of its forms and shapes.

This body will work with other Baloch nationalist forces, like NP and BNP, to de-escalate and defuse the situation in Balochistan and help the provincial elected government to bring peace and normalcy to the province, the statement said.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2014