American Lawmaker Ventures Into Balochistan Quagmire

Sympathy for Pakistan’s Balochs is unlikely to lead to official pressure on Islamabad.

American lawmakers last month expressed their concern over the situation in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. California congressman Dana Rohrabacher specifically called upon the Islamabad government to recognize the Balochi’s right of self-determination and condemned Pakistan’s use of “brute force” in suppressing Baloch nationalism.

This is not the official position of the United States and Rohrabacher’s statements were quickly criticized by the Pakistani government.

The Balochi welcomed the attention. They have battled for autonomy since Pakistan was founded in 1947. Five wars were waged with the Pakistani army and separatist leaders never miss a chance to express their grievances against the federal government.

The Baloch question is not unique. Many former colonial states struggle with separatist threats as they were often carved out of territories that did not at all reflect ethnic and religious boundaries. An imagined nationality was forced upon the people of these states and the responsibility of nation building fell on the shoulders of the “constructed” majority which took little interest in minorities.

In the case of Pakistan, the secession of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in 1971 was early proof that a multiethnic state, divided geographically no less, is fragile at best.

With regard to Balochistan, the federal government must take serious steps it wants to address the root of the problem. The present administration has expanded provincial autonomy and boosted financing of Balochistan but these measures have failed to address the more fundamental grievances of the Balochis against their ruling elite.

It would require a psychological massage to eradicate old and persisting anti-government sentiments from the hearts and minds of the Balochi people. In particular, the government should take seriously abuses of power and injustices that are committed in the region. The Balochi’s concerns are not always properly addressed.

In another area, policy should be reversed. Flooding Balochistan with migrants from other parts of Pakistan will not make the problem go away. The people there should be able to maintain their uniqueness and enjoy a sense of cultural independence. Balochi nationalism will only grow stronger if there is a concentrated effort to repress it.

The presence of armed forces in the streets of Balochistan also does little to quell separatist sentiments. It is the responsibility of the federal government to provide security but not to intimidate.

Balochi separatist leaders must also be more accomodative if there is to be a peaceful resolution to the unrest. Instead of advocating independence and accepting nothing less, they could demand autonomy and a fairer distribution of revenue. Six decades of fighting has given them nothing but hardship.

Whatever sympathy may exist for Balochi’s right of self-determination abroad, it is unlikely to be translated into pressure on the Pakistani government. The United States will not want to strain relations with Islamabad further over an issue in which they have very little at stake.

The diplomatic row over Rohrabacher’s provocation notwithstanding, the Balochi issue can only be resolved if government and separatist leaders sit together. The people’s hues and cries need soothing balm, not bullets.


  1. FYI
    Balochi is the language
    Baloch is the nation
    Balochistan is their homeland
    Balochs are not fighting for autonomy against this terrorist nation called Pakistan.
    Balochistan was an independent, secular, and democratic country before Pakistan even was born.
    In early Mar 1948, when a resolution of merger with Pakistan was submitted to Balochistan’s parliment, both, the House of common and house of lord outrightly rejected it.
    Since then, Pakistan occipied the Balochistan by force, and Baloch has been fighting for their freedom, not sepratisom because Balochistan never has been part of Pakistan.
    This is the 5th army operation going on in Balochistan by an alien country called Pakistan Army.
    Ten’s of thousands of Balochs been brutually killed and more than 14000 has been disappeared since 2001.
    Just in 2 years, more than 500 multilated bullet ridled bodies of Balochs has been found thrown in wilderness, some time by Helicopters.
    Pakistan is using the ammunation and funds which is provided and donated by USA and Europe to silence and kill secular Balochs who thinks Religon is a personal matter, unlike their counter part Pakistanis finatic who train and house the terrorist to kill other human being.
    God Bless U.S.A and Balochistan

  2. BHRC (Canada) & IVBMP: convene a meeting to mark the Illegal occupation of Balochistan
    Dear Sir/Madame,
    You are cordially invited to an event on marking the “Illegal occupation of Balochistan on March 27, 1948”.

    To forfeit the independence of a Nation is a worse kind of violation of a human’s right. Balochistan, was an independent, secular and democratic country before March 27, 1948, forcefully occupied by Pakistani Army, since then Baloch people are fighting to regain their independence from this illegal occupation by Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan and Iran are conducting slow motion genocide in both Eastern and Western Balochistan so as to silence the voices of secularism, democracy and world peace in the region.

    We are inviting, all the democratic and peace loving people to attend this event. The event will be attended by a wide variety of experts coming from different walks of life to share their views and opinions on the subject of how Balochistan was occupied and how this current occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan and Iran have changed the region’s socio-economic growth, democratic values, and peace for decades and why an independent and free Balochistan is vital for peace and prosperity for the region.

    Topic of the Event:

    “Illegal occupation of Balochistan”

    WHERE: Milliken Mills Community Centre, 7600 Kennedy Rd

    Markham,ONL3R 9S5, Main Intersection 14th and

    Kennedy Rd in Markham

    WHEN: Sunday, March 25, 2012
    TIME: 5 p.m – 9 p.m.

    The Event on Illegal occupation of Balochistan is being organised by Baloch Human Rights Council of (Canada) & International Voice for Baloch Missing People (IVBMP).

  3. Let India play a nasty game of dancing with Pakistan and let her be disintegrated like that of Soviet Union.

  4. mr. ranjan you know nothing about Baluchistan. They have been requesting Indian Govt for a long time to do something for the sake of Baloch people. you guys shamefully remain silent.

    Secularists have been fooling Hindus , appeasing muslims in the name of islam (thus fooling us too) and sharing hindu tax money. You take money from Hindus in the name of tax for the country. Then you make schemes for minorities and appease us. But no a single rupee reach us. Dr. M. Singh’s govt is having corruption ratio of 90% . That is if Delhi send 100 Rs. only Rs 10 reach to us balance 90% is looted by secularists, clerics, islamists and media.

    Baloch has been fighting for last 70 years , they will continue till their last drop of blood. YOU PLEASE KEEP OUT OF IT.

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