The US administration may have expressed helplessness regarding the hearings and resolutions that have suddenly cropped up on Balochistan in Washington – but Pakistan isn’t buying it.
For the second time in a week, the foreign office summoned the acting US ambassador to record Pakistan’s “strong protest” over a resolution recently tabled in the US House of Representatives backing Balochistan’s right to self-determination.
“Ambassador Richard Hoagland was told in clear terms that the move in the US Congress was contrary to the spirit of friendly relations and violative of the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and recognised norms of inter-state conduct,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Monday.
He was asked to convey the grave concerns of the Pakistani government to the US administration, the statement added.
The US Charge d’ Affaires was also called to the Foreign Office last Monday after a US Congressional Committee conducted a hearing on the law and order situation of the province that has gained limelight in Washington – and resultantly caused a sense of urgency in Pakistan – as of late, .
This time, Hoagland was summoned to lodge a formal protest over the resolution introduced by the Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations of the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairperson Dana Rohrabacher in favour of the “right to self-determination for the Baloch people, for being victims of human rights violations and oppression despite being the largest province.”
However, the US administration distanced itself from the move, assuring once again that it respects the territorial integrity of Pakistan.
According to the US Embassy statement, “Members of Congress introduce legislation on numerous foreign affairs topics and these bills do not in any way imply US government endorsement of any particular policy”.
The statement said that the State Department does not typically comment on pending legislation, but it is not the policy of the administration to support independence for Balochistan.
Meanwhile, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly could not move a resolution against the US for its interference in Pakistan, when almost all members of the coalition government, even after supporting the proposed resolution, made a safe escape and left the assembly hall during tea break.
The resolution condemning the US bill stated: “This assembly condemns the US resolution for a separate Balochistan. It was against international law and has challenged our sovereignty. It was an attack on our integrity and was a conspiracy against an important ally in the war against terror.”
On the other hand, MPAs in Punjab also handed in their resolutions to the Punjab Assembly secretariat against the US resolution.
(Read: Rohrabacher’s Pressler moment)
(With additional reporting from our correspondents in Peshawar and Lahore)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2012.