Friday, 10 February 2012

Landmark US hearings on Balochistan

On Wednesday the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing on Balochistan, Pakistan's restive province and, some say, a country denied its statehood. The committee heard detailed evidence of human rights abuses and hundreds of unexplained killings in the province - mostly attibuted to the Pakistan Army and the ISI, but some also carried out by Baloch nationalists - from Ali Dayan Hasan from Human Rights Watch and T Kumar  from Amnesty International. 
Several members of Congress from both sides of the political divide spoke in support of Balochi independence. Defence 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 would vote to leave Pakistan," he said. Dr M Hossainbor, an American Baloch lawyer, said that Balochis were natural allies of the United States and that an independent Balochistan would offer naval bases to the UN Navy.
Christine Fair, an associate professor at Washington's Georgetown University and someone who is generally well informed about Pakistan, appears to have a blind spot when it comes to Balochistan. Her useful potted history of the province concludes by saying that the Baloch nationalists should put down their weapons. She adds: "the state needs to abandon its preferred militarised conflict resolution techniques in preference to engaging legitimate grievances...". By "preferred militarised conflict resolution techniques" is she referring to the mass murder of intellectuals in Balochistan that has been happening over the last two or three years undisturbed by any comments by US leaders, who continue to turn a blind eye? Come on Christine, you can do better than that!

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