Pakistan on Saturday reacted sharply to a resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by three members asserting Balochistan's right to self-determination. Across the political spectrum, there was consensus that this amounted to an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty which could impact U.S.-Pakistan relations.
Interacting with mediapersons in Karachi, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani described the resolution introduced by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher as an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty. Earlier this week, Pakistan had reacted equally sharply over the exclusive hearing held by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations on human rights violations in Balochistan. This sub-committee is also chaired by Mr. Rohrabacher.
In the official formulation of Pakistan's reaction — put out by the Foreign Office — Minister Hina Rabbani Khar took “strong exception'' and said it was against the very fundamentals of long-standing Pakistan-U.S. relations. Maintaining that it was an isolated move, she said the “draft resolution'' is contrary to the principles of the U.N. Charter and international law. Ms. Khar described the resolution as an unfriendly and irresponsible attempt by a few individuals to create distrust and hoped that this “latest tendentious move'' will not be allowed to sail through the House by a vast majority of U.S. Congressmen who continued to support friendly bilateral relations. Referring to the unanimous resolution adopted by the National Assembly this week condemning the Congressional hearing , she said that clearly represented the legitimate reaction of the Pakistani people.
Pakistan's embassy in Washington rejected “this ill-informed move and the Congressman's misplaced concern on Balochistan which is part of the Pakistani Federation''. Pointing out that the province has a directly elected provincial assembly of its own and has due representation in the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan, the embassy said the resolution seeks to cast doubt on the territorial integrity of a member of the United Nations and a friend of the U.S., and is totally unacceptable.
“Balochistan's affairs and issues are an internal matter of Pakistan and it is for the people of Pakistan and our democratic institutions to address these. We would advise those behind this resolution to reserve their concern and solicitude for problems closer to home. Needless to say provocations such as these will seriously impact the Pakistan-US relations. We value this relationship, but not at the cost of our dignity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,'' said the statement even as the U.S. embassy in Islamabad distanced itself from the resolution saying the American administration had nothing to do with it.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rohrabacher was being hailed on social networking sites for raising the issue and “his incredible support'' for the Baloch nationalism. In turn, the Congressional hearing and resolution have generated considerable debate within Pakistan on Balochistan, an issue that is seldom discussed in the mainstream media.