Saturday, March 3, 2012

Should the US support an independent Balochistan?

In the same breath, Gohmert provided one of the first definitive links between support for the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and Baloch nationalists in Pakistan: "Let's talk about creating a Balochistan in the southern part of Pakistan. They'll stop the IEDs and all of the weaponry coming into Afghanistan, and we got a shot to win over there."
With these remarks, the two pillars of an alternative Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) policy approach were now set: To advance its interests, the US should support the carving out of an independent Baloch state and semi-autonomous Afghan territories - even if it undermined existing US partnerships with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In early February, Rohrabacher convened a public congressional hearing on Balochistan. While human rights violations in Pakistan's Balochistan province were discussed (per the agenda), the hearing also provided a forum to start a larger (and arguably off-topic) national dialogue on the viability of Southwest Asia's state borders.
As a result of the hearing, witnesses - including Ralph Peters and M Hossein Bor - were able to argue that the dismemberment of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan would serve the United States' long-term strategic interests. But, even more importantly, the hearing allowed the witnesses to inject their views into the larger debate on US foreign policy in Southwest Asia. This included Bor's controversial assertion (which was later censored in Pakistan) that supporting an independent Balochistan stretching from "the Strait of Hormuz to Karachi" would be a better policy approach than ongoing US efforts to counter the Iranian and Pakistani regimes.
Rohrabacher, Gohmert, and Representative Steve King (Republican-Iowa) followed up the hearing by introducing a new bill in Congress stating that the Baloch nation has a historic right to self-determination. With this action, the congressmen went from "familiarising themselves" with Balochistan to calling for Congress to recognise the Baloch nation's right to sovereign independence in roughly a week. 

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