U.S. Hearing On Balochistan Raises Hackles, Awareness In Pakistan
Sanaullah Baloch, a former senator writing in the “Express Tribune,” believes that the use of force failed to suppress the Bangladeshis and that history will repeat itself if the state continues with the same policy regarding Balochistan.
The U.S. Congressional hearing last week on Balochistan, the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, though it was firmly rejected by Islamabad, is being seen in Pakistan as any eye-opener for the state and its security agencies.
Pakistan’s newly appointed envoy to Washington and onetime champion of freedom of expression and human rights, Sherry Rehman, in an official reaction called the hearing an “ill-advised and ill-considered” move that will have serious repercussions for Pakistani-U.S. relations.
Calling Balochistan an integral part of Pakistan, Rehman did not mention the security situation in the province, which is now more regularly and more openly being discussed in the Pakistani print and electronic media.
Joining the Pakistani government in its anger over the U.S. hearing on Balochistan, Pakistani lawmakers also expressed their reservations, but took it a step further, calling the situation far from satisfactory and asking for immediate redressal of the demands of Baluch nationalists.
Three senators, Zahid Khan of the Awami National Party, Ibrahim Khan of Jamat-e Islami, and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, who talked to RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal a day after the U.S. hearing, described the Balochistan situation as a grim reality, though they also accused the U.S. Congress of interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
At the same time, the Pakistani media, apart from its typical anti-Americanism, criticized at the state and its security agencies for pushing the situation to an extent where the disgruntled Baluch, who once demanded greater autonomy inside the Pakistani federation, are now fighting for independence.
Bangladesh All Over Again?