As clamour over Balochistan grows, US Congressmen visiting Pakistan attempted to turn down the heat on Thursday, and insisted that Washington does not support an “independent Balochistan, and respects Pakistan’s territorial integrity.”
At a meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, a US bipartisan congressional delegation led by David Dreier insisted that both Republicans and Democrats were against the resolution recently tabled in the US Congress on Balochistan.
The US government has already dissociated itself from a resolution introduced by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, chairperson of a sub-committee on oversight and investigations of the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee, seeking the ‘right of self-determination of Baloch people.’
This is the first time, however, that both Republicans and Democrats have come up with a categorical denunciation of the move.
“I want to convey to the people, and the government of Pakistan, that US is committed to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan,” said Congressman Dreier.
“We do not support an independent Balochistan and only support a united Pakistan,” the congressman added.
The congressional delegation also met Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek.
The visit by US congressmen is seen as ‘soft resumption’ of bilateral cooperation that was damaged by last year’s Nato airstrikes on Pakistani check posts along the Afghan border that killed 24 soldiers.
According to an official statement, Premier Gilani told the US Congressmen that Pakistan wanted to have ‘excellent relations with the US’ but it was important to follow a partnership approach based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
Pakistan supports an ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ reconciliation process, the premier added.
“It is important that Afghanistan, Pakistan and US were on the same page and worked together to promote national reconciliation, peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Gilani added.
Sources say the prime minister also raised the issue of recent burning of copies of the Holy Quran at a US military base in Afghanistan.
“Such shameful acts will certainly make it difficult for the Pakistani government to support the US,” Gilani was quoted as telling the American lawmakers.
Sources said the US delegation brought up the issue of Nato supplies that Pakistan has suspended since the November 26 incident.
The congressmen wanted Pakistan to take a decision to reopen key supply routes at the earliest, sources added.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.