Pak using brutal force in Baluchistan: US Lawmakers

Accusing Pakistan of using brutal force in Baluchistan, eminent US lawmakers have expressed serious concern over the human rights violations in the restive province.

"Baluchistan deserves our attention because it is a turbulent land marked by human rights violations committed by regimes that are hostile to America's interests and values," Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said at a Congressional hearing.

Rohrabacher is the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which organised the Congressional hearing on Baluchistan.

Stating that Islamabad has refused to concede any legitimacy to Baluch nationalism or to engage the Baluch leadership in serious negotiations, Rohrabacher said:

"Its response has been based on brute force, including extra-judicial killings."

In an apparent reference to the concerns being expressed in Pakistan over the hearing, he said its purpose is to start a national dialogue in the US on the current status in Baluchistan.

"This is not to plot out some sort of conspiracy," he said.

Congressman Ted Poe from Texas said that the current situation in Baluchistan fits into the category of self-determination.

"I'm a great believer in self-determination for people who believe in it as well. Baluchistan, I think, fits that category", he said.

"Somebody over there in Baluchistan has been reading the Declaration of Independence that gives a justification on a moral and legal reason why people can separate themselves from abusive governments," Poe said.

Poe went on to compare Pakistan with Benedict Arnold, an American Revolutionary War General who first fought the war in the Continental Army but later defected to the British Army, and said:

"As far as Pakistan goes, they are the Benedict Arnold in the relationship with the United States. Ten years and USD 20 billion later we're still paying them to not look out after our interests. They persecuted the informant that gave us the information about Osama bin Laden, charged him with treason.

"I mean, how long is it going to take before we get the point? We don't need to continue to give American money to Pakistan at all. Not a dime. And they've proven they don't deserve it and it's not in our national interest," Poe said. 

Expressing his displeasure over the use of US supplied weapons against the people of Baluchistan, Congressman Louie Gohmert said:

"It is greatly disturbing to hear that weapons that we have provided to Pakistan have been utilised to create human rights violations. That is particularly disturbing. That's not what this nation is about."

"It would seem to me that since we are trying to get out of Afghanistan and turn that country over to them, the quicker we could stop assisting Pakistan in funding the Taliban, that we are trying to fight, which is also creating human rights violations against Baluchistan, it sounds like we could create a real win for the United States, Baluchistan, Baluchs, for people of Afghanistan, if we just quit helping Pakistan help all of our enemies," the lawmaker said.

Ranking member, Congressman Russ Carnahan said that it is critical that Pakistan works to ensure the integrity of its own people and its own country, including Baluchistan.

In his remarks, Congressman Brad Sherman alleged that the people of Baluchistan and Sindh, their culture, language and way of life are under attack and underrepresented from so many major government entities in Pakistan.

"Political activities defending Baluch and Sindhi rights are subject to arrests, disappearances, torture and even killing. I believe the US must reach out to these underrepresented historic segments of the Pakistani population," he said.

"The Baluch people are culturally and traditionally regarded as secular and moderate, strongly influenced by the cultural traditions of Sufism.

"Both the Sindhis and the Baluch have a culture that I think will be consistent with American values," Sherman said.

"A significant part of the people of Sindh, of course, are Baluch ethnically or has Baluch origins. The Baluch and Sindhis, including those Baluch living in Sindhi province, share the goal of government recognition of their cultural, political and economic rights," the lawmaker said.

Observing that Islamabad's reluctance to give the Baluch people more autonomy is because Baluchistan is rich in resources, Sherman said:

"The Baluch seek a more equitable share of the region's rich natural resources, and that is another source of resentment," he said.

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