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US bill seeks Balochistan sovereignty

February 18, 2012

US Representative Dana Rohrabacher. - AFP (File Photo)

WASHINGTON: Three US lawmakers introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives on Friday, stating that the Baloch nation has a historic right to self-determination.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, was the motivator behind this resolution, which notes that Balochistan is currently divided between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan with no sovereign rights of its own.

The resolution also notes that in Pakistan, the Baloch people are subjected to violence and extrajudicial killing.

The Baloch people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country; and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status”, says the resolution.

“The Baloch, like other nations of people, have an innate right to self-determination,” said Congressman Rohrabacher while defending the resolution. “The political and ethnic discrimination they suffer is tragic and made more so because America is financing and selling arms to their oppressors in Islamabad.”

The resolution states that historically Balochistan was an independently governed entity known as the Baloch Khanate of Kalat which came to an end after invasions from both British and Persian armies. An attempt to regain independence in 1947 was crushed by Pakistan.

“Today the Balochistan province of Pakistan is rich in natural resources but has been subjugated and exploited by Punjabi and Pashtun elites in Islamabad, leaving Balochistan the country’s poorest province,” the movers note.

Congressman Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, and Steve King, an Iowa Republican, have also signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill. Republican Rohrabacher is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He created uproar in Pakistan last week when he held the first-ever exclusive hearing on human rights violations in Balochistan.

Pakistan called the hearing interference in its internal affairs while Baloch nationalists welcomed it as a much-needed move which they said could relieve their sufferings and ultimately lead to their freedom.

The US State Department, however, distanced itself from the hearing, saying that it recognised Balochistan as part of the Pakistani state.