Human rights in Balochistan

Published: March 4, 2012

The writer, a native of South Waziristan, has a master’s degree in conflict resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in the US

The US Congressional Committee, chaired by Representative Dana Rohrabacher, which held a hearing on Balochistan must not have heard about a few areas such as Kashmir and Palestine. Why the sudden debate surrounding human rights issues in Balochistan? How did these congressmen vote on a recently passed US security bill that allows the military to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial? Strangely enough, they all voted in favour of detaining their own constituents without due process. What about the human rights of innocent civilians killed by drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan? Needless to say, the grievances of the Baloch are urgent and need to be addressed, but the timing of this interest in the plight of Balochistan by three US Republican politicians is suspicious.

Although this bill has little chance of going anywhere in Congress, it effectively riled up politicians within Pakistan. With any hope, it will result in a grand bargain with the Baloch to provide them their fair share of political representation and economic development. That would be the most positive possible outcome from this unwelcome intrusion. American politicians, such as Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, should refrain from meddling in affairs the result of which they cannot even begin to fathom.

Dana’s unfamiliarity with the region was on clear display as he consistently transitioned between the correct pronunciation and ‘Biloke-istan’, while reading from prepared notes. The Representative also left out some important facts in his opening remarks. Painting Balochistan as a single united entity seeking independence is misleading, since the Pashtuns and the Hazaras also inhabit the province. Balochistan’s troubles are not black and white, but severely complex and certainly not suitable for intervention by low-level politicians on the other side of the world. The fact is that, this man is only one of 435 elected members of the House and represents one-fifth of one per cent of US citizens. His views do not represent those of the US government and should hold just about zero weight among the international community.

As far as the third co-signatory of the Balochistan bill is concerned, Steve King, he stated in 2008 that if Obama becomes the president of the US, then al Qaeda and its supporters will be dancing in the streets after declaring a victory on the war on terror. He also inferred that Obama’s middle name, Hussain is troublesome. His intolerant views are a good indication of his intellect level. If Rohrabacher, Gohmert and King are truly sincere about human rights then they should begin by giving up obstructionist antics at home and promote greater human rights for their fellow citizens in the US. These Tea Party lawmakers have systematically voted against universal healthcare, women’s rights, and minority rights while demanding harsher immigration laws.

In the end, it is clear that addressing human rights violations was never the intention of the hearing. This was just perceived as a good opportunity to kick the hornet’s nest for political gain and to antagonise Pakistan further in its current state of fragility. All three signatories of the bill belong to Obama’s opposition party and are motivated to damage the administration’s efforts to mend relations with Pakistan, even at the detriment of their own nation. Rohrabacher and his pals are calling for a separate Balochistan, at a time when Israel is threatening to attack Iran and the coalition forces are preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, does not show much geopolitical judiciousness. As public servants, these lawmakers should put more thought into the consequences of their actions. The US State Department is now busy with damage control and has made it very clear that they continue to view Balochistan as part of the Pakistani state. However, the issue has been brought to light. Pakistan would be wise to step up and earnestly make an effort to appease regional concerns if it intends on securing Balochistan as an integral part of the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012.

Reader Comments (24)

  • Mar 4, 2012 - 12:24AM

    Why dont you write this for a US publication rather than trying to convince Pakistanis that the actions of foreign representatives is “suspicious”. There have been many hearings on Kashmir and Palestine, yet they go no where as will be the case on the hearing on Balochistan. On the one hand you say their actions are suspicious and attempt to discredit the actions of the congressman by questioning their past statements, and then you also lament that why dont they raise the case of Kashmir and Palestine. And whats with the neo-colonial ending? “make an effort to appease regional concerns if it intends on securing Balochistan as an integral part of the country”. Ignore the people, but tame foreign powers? Yes that strategy will definitely solve our problems, as if that is exactly what we have been doing for decades.

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  • zeeshan imran
    Mar 4, 2012 - 12:28AM

    Dana was pretty clear with his agenda,he didn’t beat about the bush.he has repeatedly stated that he wants to break away balochistan from pakistan.He hasn’t tried to hide his intentions.and this hearing was inline with that.it was a biased and prejudiced hearing through and through.if the americans are concerned about human rights violations then why don’t they speak up about the deliberate target killings of non-baloch settlers in balochistan? why do human rights only apply to the people supporting dana’s agenda? why no human rights for the punjabi civilians being killed in balochistan,what about the human rights of the lakhs of settlers who have been forced to flee their homes and businesses in balochistan?

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  • Kumar Bharat
    Mar 4, 2012 - 12:59AM

    @Sabina Khan

    Mr.Dana Rohrabacher is certainly not a gud guy ,But mean time he wants to state that USA also can play ugly politics and Pakistan shouldn’t play double standard game with Baloochis and Kashmiris.He belongs to the country from where you got your degree.

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  • Think Tank
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:44AM

    this article is one sided as it only determines pakistani idea of representation. Y media has been absent in Balochistan for the past 60 years. y one by one baloch leaders r being killed. more than 350 political and educated balochs were killed with in one year. Neither pakistani nor foreign media took notice of it. Then weeping on congress meeting on balochistan issue is basless. we have cleared the ways to welcome these circumstances. Its axing ones own foot and blaming others.

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  • Falcon
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:45AM

    Good article. The new aggressive politics picking up pace in US is a matter of concern. Foreign policy has always been one of the weakest links of their political portfolio. This is specially more problematic issue within the ranks of Republicans. Dana Rohrabacher’s anti-Pakistan views in general (other than this issue), Newt. Geingrich recent Obama bashing for apologizing on the tragedy of Quran burning issue in Afghanistan and Rick Santorum’s Obama bashing for being ‘too lenient’ on Iran are part of the same puzzle, which is that a part of America is beginning to become isolationist, which is unhealthy perspective to entertain at this juncture of their history. However, on Pakistani side I agree, this was a timely alarm to wake up our sleeping leadership and for us in the civil society to push through for the fight of our brethren in Balochistan.

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  • Quetta Hasan
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:55AM

    The only ones who know about this Rohrabacher congressman from US – are the folks in this country. BTW, nobody knows him in the US – not even a majority of his own constituents. He is known more in this country than the counties he represents in his own state. There are million such ‘hearings’ in the US congress on arcane and mundane subjects that nobody bothers about and the media generally overlooks it.

    All that aside, don’t just write articles on Balochistan. We read a lot everyday. Do something. Like actually traveling to that place and visiting with local people.

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  • John B
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:28AM

    “Pakistan would be wise to step up and earnestly make an effort to appease regional concerns if it intends on securing Balochistan as an integral part of the country”-

    The author and the US congressional inquiry say the same thing. So why, she has to villify the US congress and suggest essentially the same thing that US congress had suggested. Who is correct in the assessment then, Rohrabacher or the author?

    Rohrabacher did a good thing to Baloch and to Pakistan federation in bringing the issue up.

    Hardly a week before the US congressional inquiry, ET web desk wrote a blog on how the PAK press has been asked to keep quiet about the misgivings in Balochistan. Now, after the Rohrabacher theatrics, suddenly all party conference, amnesty, Balochistan Jirga and dinner invitation to every Baloch is coming out of every institution in PAK.

    Is it not a good thing?

    PS: Military and civil law are independent in US, as in most countries. The US security bill is a military provision, not yet final, and it still has to face the music in US supreme court.

    Perhaps the author should know that the US citizens human rights are not gift of congress. The people of US have given it to themselves... This a major distinction in concept and the author should understand the subject before poking at the fundamentals.

    No US citizen will ever allow any one to touch the Bill of rights. That is why we elect our US congressional representatives every two years.

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  • nabiha
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:47AM

    you have noooooooooooo idea what ure taking about and dont know anything about balochistan either

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  • C. Nandkishore
    Mar 4, 2012 - 4:35AM

    If Dana is not so important then why write a column about him. If all three of them are third rate fellows then why do they get elected all the time?

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  • Cynical
    Mar 4, 2012 - 5:10AM

    ‘Human rights’; the noblest of ideas, nurtured in the purest of hearts and minds only to be abused by the basest of people.But that’s life.

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  • Masrur
    Mar 4, 2012 - 6:57AM

    good keep up it!

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  • ali
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:34AM

    Yesterday, Bloch nationalists executed 3 FC soldiers – kidnapped during raid at FC posts protecting Marget coal mine workers last month that witnessed killing of 15 soldiers too and threw mutilated dead bodies of 3 FC soldiers near Mach.
    Where are the so called champions of liberal fascism and advocates of human rights now?
    BRA – led by Harbayar Marri, sitting in London, has accepted responsibility of these extrajudicial killings, ironically there has been not even a single condemnation from civil society,
    These miscreants, who claim to be Nationalists, which to me they are not, are playing in the hands of enemies of Pakistan; had been killing innocent barbers teachers and labors from other provinces especially Punjab for the last many decades, body bags had been endlessly sent from Baluchistan to other parts of country; they started crying once they themselves received only a few….., it’s a tit for tat.
    Don’t the families of these FC soldiers deserve the same sympathy as showered by our so called pseudo liberals for nationalists who just cry against security establishment for the sake of fashion.
    Would they condemn BLA now……..?

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  • Rumsfield
    Mar 4, 2012 - 8:03AM

    I enjoyed the article but, but, but… when they liberate Bilokistan, Americans will be welcomed as heroes with parades, statues, and stuff. My buddy Dick Cheney pushed the same delusional ideas while promoting the invasion of Iraq… that worked out well.

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  • Khattak
    Mar 4, 2012 - 8:17AM

    Would you please consider for a minute the pain of a Baloch mother having mutilitaed body of her son or a missing relative for years? Put yourself in shoes of a Baloch mother you would be parying for the long life of Dana’s & the American people. If it happens to my son I will accept anything, help from Israel, India and any one. Simple is that. Also please do not assume or suppose that Pashtun or Hazars will be be fighting for Paksiatn Army or Pakistani Federation as it is very far from reality. These oppressed nationalities know what is best for them, that end of opression & rule of agencies.

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  • Taurus
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:03AM

    A really good article. I dont know how people miss a context and yet comment on a position and that too which they have noooooo qualified argument to offer. It is right to question a motive when the established concern is so selective. Why not kashmir and why ‘Bolukistan’ only? And by the way, you think Dana was elected to inflict his wisdom on the public at large about ‘Balukistan’? I think the auther has shown how inconsistant the average politician is and I would like to see some human right matters raised on the Samjhota Train issue, Babri Mosque, Assam and inteference in Nepal. If its good for the goose then it must be hunky dorey for the gander.

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  • Omar
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:20AM

    It looks like the writer is trying to divert it human right issue in Balochistan by all means. What the pronouncing the name of Balochistan has to do with Human Right violations? 99% of Punjabis don’t know the difference between Baloch and Balochi, but they ar still ruling us. 100% of Punjabis can’t pronounce the ” Baloch” in proper way, the way we do it, but they are still our masters.
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  • Hafeez
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:57AM

    I am amazed that despite being from Waziristan you could be so detached from reality. You need to talk to people of Mehsud and Wazir tribes and get their viewpoint on the drone strikes. Most of them view drone strikes essential to get rid of the militants who have not only destroyed their culture and customs but also forced them to leave their homes. I can understand that to make your point you just tried to put all these issues in the same basket. That’s inappropriate. Though I agree that we should hope for a positive outcome of this ill intended congressional hearing about Balochistan. I consider it a blessing in disguise otherwise the Balochistan issue was placed somewhere at the back burner.

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  • usman786
    Mar 4, 2012 - 10:15AM

    Harmony cannot be achieved thru dollars or use of force

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  • zalim singh
    Mar 4, 2012 - 11:01AM

    @ author, you feel everything is ok in Baluchistan?

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  • Maryam
    Mar 4, 2012 - 4:17PM

    Yeah yeah yeah…..

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  • Taimur Arbab
    Mar 4, 2012 - 5:16PM

    Very nicely posited….a time for reflection for the ones in Capitol Hill–their blanketing of Palestine and Kashmir under a veil of indifference does not speak well for their itching for human rights in other parts of the globe—-contradictions abound for the rest of the world….

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  • Adnan Aamir
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:32PM

    @Sabina Khan

    These days all newspapers and Blogs are filled with articles criticising US congress resolution on Balochistan. Ironically the least discuss issue Balochistan is in the spotlight Thanks to Dana Rorahbacher. Its so sad to read that people writing articles on Balochistan try to dilute the Balochistan issue and try to mislead the readers who on most of occasions are completely ignorant of troubles in Balochistan. They can easily be fed anything and they will believe it.

    Whatever Dana Rorahbacher did, there was definitely a vested interest in it. He might not be a well wisher of Baloch people and irrespective of his intentions, he has not said anything wrong about Balochistan. Human rights violations in Balochistan are much bigger problem than Dana Rorahbacher’s so-called intrusion in internal affairs of Pakistan.

    Pashtun and Hazaras No doubt that these communities inhibit Balochistan but Hazaras only in Quetta and Pashtuns in north. rest of Balochistan is Baloch Area.. So first we should correct things in our home and then blame foreign intruders..Recommend

  • PakiKaka
    Mar 5, 2012 - 12:07PM

    @Kumar Bharat:
    Double standard games?? Really?? considering they want Balochistan to have the right of self determination and denying Kashmiris the same even though (whether you would like to believe it or not) According to UN, Kashmir is a disputed territory which awaits a UN and Nehru promised plebiscite… It’s pretty clear who’s playing the double standard games? You are either extremely naive or pretty foolish to talk about Kashmir and Balochistan in the same breath.

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  • Taurus
    Mar 5, 2012 - 1:09PM

    The auther does not say that there no issues in Baluchistan. In fact read the conclusion again. She is simply saying, ‘why are we being selective’? Are Kashmir and Palestine not problem areas too, do they have no humans or do they simply dont have rights?

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