The United States has said it “respects” the territorial integrity of Pakistan,after Islamabad lodged a “strong protest” over the tabling of a resolution on “self-determination” in Baluchistan.
“The United States respects the territorial integrity of Pakistan,” the State Department spokesperson,Victoria Nuland,told reporters yesterday at her daily news conference.
“Members of Congress introduce legislation on many foreign affairs topics,but they don’t in any way imply US government endorsement of those positions,” the spokesperson said while responding to questions.
Led by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher,three US-lawmakers,last week introduced a concurrent resolution in the House of Representatives that Baluchi nation has a right to self-determination.
The bill states that the Baluchi people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country; and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.” Lawmakers Louie Gohmert and Steve King also signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill.
Though the legislation has not found much support in the Congress so far,it has angered the people and Pakistan government; who have termed it as an interference in the internal affairs of their country. Pakistan Foreign Ministry had on Monday summoned the acting American envoy and lodged a “strong protest” over the tabling of the resolution,which has emerged as the latest irritant in bilateral ties.
Khar has said that though the resolution was an isolated move by a few individuals,it was against the “very fundamentals of the long-standing Pakistan-US relations”.
Nuland said the Pak Ambassador to the US,Sherry Rehman,and the Pak Government in Islamabad have conveyed their sentiments to this issue.
“We don’t generally comment on pending legislation. With regard to Baluchistan itself,we encourage all the parties in Baluchistan to work out their differences peaceably and through a political process,” she said.
“So we would like to again make clear that we respect Pakistani sovereignty in this regard,” Nuland said.
“Are you against self-determination in Baluchistan,as some of the lawmakers and some of the Baluchistan people are saying,” she was asked. “That is not what we are saying. I think you understand our position very well,” Nuland said in response to a question.
The Pakistan Foreign Minister,Hina Rabbani Khar,has gone on record to say that the Baluchistan resolution would harm the US-Pak relationship.
The resolution,which expresses the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country,as been sent to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Based on past tradition,such resolutions rarely pass beyond the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“It is the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan,currently divided between Pakistan,Iran,and Afghanistan,have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status among the community of nations,living in peace and harmony,without external coercion,” the resolution says.
The resolution says that the people of Baluchistan have maintained a proud and distinctive national,cultural,and religious identity dating back to ancient times.
In 1666,the Baluch Khanate of Kalat was founded which functioned as an independent,sovereign country and in the 19th century,the Baluch people were conquered and divided by the imperialist expansion of Persia (Iran) and the British Empire.
On August 15,1947,the Khan of Kalat declared independence,only to have Baluch aspirations crushed by an invasion by Pakistan in April 1948 followed by 2 years of a bloody campaign to stamp out popular resistance,it said.
According to the resolution,revolts in 1958,1973,and 2005 indicate continued popular discontent against rule by Islamabad,and the plunder of its vast natural wealth while Baluchistan remains the poorest province in Pakistan.
A popular insurgency is also under way in Sistan-Baluchistan and being met by brutal repression by the dictatorship in Iran,it said.