US Congressional Reps Briefed on Balochistan Rights

Washington DC, Feb 8: The United States Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a congressional meeting on Thursday for an exclusive discussion on the gravity of situation in Balochistan.

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Republican Dana Rohrabacher, held a session to discuss target killings and human rights situation in Balochistan, and termed it a matter requiring urgent attention. He has also co-authored an article a few days ago, favouring independent Balochistan.

In his opening remarks, Rohrabacher said Balochistan is a turbulent land marred by human rights violations “by regimes that are against US values”.

Rohrabacher further said the province had vital strategic importance.

Human Rights Watch Pakistan Director Ali Dayan Hasan, in his submitted remarks, said that cases documented by the HRW showed that Pakistan’s security forces and its intelligence agencies were involved in the forced disappearance of ethnic Baloch.

The HRW representative asked the US government in his recommendations to “communicate directly with the agencies responsible for disappearances and other abuses, demand an end to abuses and facilitate criminal inquiries to hold perpetrators accountable”.

He clarified that the HRW took no position on the issue of the independence of Balochistan. He argued that the US and UK had made forced disappearances possible by allowing them during the war on terror, which had led to the military doing the same.

Addressing the committee, scholar Christine Fair said that while she understood emotions ran high, “targeted killings are also being carried out by the Baloch”, adding that Pakistan’s abuse of human rights had served US interests.

The hearing, which lasted a little over an hour, came to an end as congressmen decided to go to the floor for a vote. In his closing remarks, Rohrabacher declared that the hearing was no stunt, and that they wanted to start a national dialogue on what US policy should be in that part of the world.

Addressing a news briefing, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said her country had not supported the idea of an independent Balochistan. She confirmed the meeting on Balochistan, but said the US position on Balochistan had not changed. She said the US “encourages” all factions involved in the province to tackle all their differences “peacefully and under the political process”. online

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