Sun, Feb 19, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Baluchistan resolution in US angers Pakistan

AFP, Washington

A US lawmaker on Friday introduced a resolution calling for self-determination in restive Baluchistan, triggering an angry response from Pakistan, although the measure looked unlikely to pass.

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher said that Baluchis — divided now among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan — should be allowed to choose their status. Pakistan’s Baluchistan has been torn by insurgency since 2004.

A resolution sponsored by Rohrabacher and two fellow Republicans said the Baluchi 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.”

“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,” Rohrabacher said in a statement.

There was no sign of significant support for the proposal by Rohrabacher, a longtime critic of Pakistan’s government who sought unsuccessfully to cut off all aid after US forces found and killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan, where anti-US sentiment is widespread, quickly condemned Rohrabacher’s introduction of the resolution.

“This is a self-serving attempt on the part of those who are driven by arrogance and ignorance. The bill shows utter disrespect for international norms and practices,” Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Abdul Basit said in a statement in Islamabad.

Pakistan similarly accused the US of meddling in its affairs after Rohrabacher, who heads an investigative subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently called a hearing on Baluchistan.

The administration of US President Barack Obama, who belong to the rival Democratic Party, declined to send a representative to testify before Rohrabacher’s subcommittee and said it considered Baluchistan part of Pakistan.

“The Congress holds hearings on many foreign affairs topics. These hearings don’t necessarily imply that the US government endorses one view or another view,” US Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said after the hearing.

“We encourage all the parties in Baluchistan to work out their differences peacefully and through a valid political process,” she said.

The US has primarily been focused on unrest in Pakistan’s lawless border areas next to Afghanistan, which US officials consider to be a hideout for Islamic extremists.

However, human rights groups have urged more attention to Baluchistan, where they say hundreds of people have gone missing, been detained or killed at the hands of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.

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