MAMOSA Report by Irshad Salim — The United States Department of State has assured Pakistan that it does not support the demand for an independent Balochistan, as it respects the country’s unity and territorial integrity.
“The US government respects the unity and territorial integrity of Pakistan, and we do not support independence for Balochistan,” says a policy statement by the State Department.
The southwestern province of Balochistan’s low key insurgency is being channelized deftly with all stakeholders on board, and towards the national political mainstream.
Elaborating the US position on the matter, a State Department official said: “We have consistently urged all parties in Pakistan to work out their differences peaceably and through a valid political process.”
The US government which recently called relations with Pakistan complicated but ‘vital’ have been supporting continuity of democratic process as well as political solutions to all issues effecting war against terrorism for stable and durable peace in the region.
The US therefore continues to engage with Pakistan in an institutionalized strategic dialogue framework critical to enhancing US-Pakistan multi-layered relations going forward. It also supports the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Balochistan (as host province) as it believes the program will usher socio-economic synergy in the country as well as in the region.
The statement followed two seminars the Baloch nationalists in Washington held at Carnegie Endowment and Capitol Hall this week, urging the US administration and lawmakers to support their struggle.
In their speeches, Baloch activists pointed out “gross human rights violations, including disappearances, torture and political suppression” that they alleged the Pakistani government was carrying out in Balochistan.
Responding to Pakistani media queries about such calls, a State Department official categorically stated that the United States backs a united Pakistan.
We have always urged all political parties and other forces in Pakistan to resolve their differences peacefully and through a valid electoral and political dialogue, the statement added.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Asif Ali Zardari who continues to remain abroad since a year now, has stated that halting funds for F-16s fighter jets by the US lawmakers clearly indicates a distance in Pak-US relations.
“Pak-US relations were badly affected in the past 15 years,” he said in a statement from abroad.
Zardari said in the past, bilateral ties between the two countries were strengthened owing to Russian threat in the region — an inference that Russian and American competing interests brought Pakistan closer to Russia as the latter had sided with India.
“Pakistan has emerged as a strong democratic country in the region. Peace and development made it a strong democratic state.”
The former president called on the US to assure Pakistan of commitment to its security needs.
He urged the US to look beyond its checklist of requirements for cooperation on security needs and instead think strategically about how it can support a democratic nation under pressure from the same terror groups that threaten regional and global security.
“The struggle between Pakistan and the US over funding for the purchase of F-16 fighter jets lays bare how far apart the two countries have grown. What was once a strong partnership… has frayed and is getting weaker.”
The PPP leader expressed hope that US State Department officials currently in Pakistan for meetings with top government officials will take this opportunity to assure Pakistan that they remain committed to supporting Islamabad’s security needs.
“We are literally fighting for our lives,” he said, inviting “factions in the US Congress that don’t believe we are committed to fighting terrorists” to visit Pakistan and “bear witness to the violence” as a result of terrorism.