US Congressman Rohrabacher demands referendum in Balochistan
BRUSSELS: In an effort to shed light on the key role Balochistan plays in South Asia, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) convened a conference entitled “Global and Regional Security Challenges in South Asia: What Future for Balochistan”, which took place at The Royal Society, London on 24 February 2013.
Key speaker at this conference, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, gave a poignant speech urging the right to self-determination for the Baloch people.
The Congressman requested a referendum to be held in Balochistan on the question of independence, which would challenge the claims by Islamabad that the Baloch want to be part of Pakistan.
“As you may know, I have a resolution I submitted following hearings last year. This resolution basically says that the people of Balochistan have a right to control their destinies through the ballot box and we support a referendum for them to decide whether they stay part of Pakistan or not,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it has been American money and American support for a vicious, murderous, gangster regime in Pakistan that has kept this violence and horrendous reality as part of the lives of so many millions of people who live in South Asia,” Rohrabacher said in his speech.
He called for Pakistani officials to be tried for war crimes.
“First and foremost, we have to quit giving any military aid, and I would suggest we should quit giving any aid, to Pakistan who then uses our aid to murder and suppress people like the Baloch people, who are longing to have basic freedoms.
“We have to make sure that the evidence of this is clear to everybody and that the monstrous violence that is being laid upon the people of Balochistan is horrendous, he said.
Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) was also present.
The conference was opened by Marino Busdachin, General Secretary of UNPO, and Paulo Casaca, former MEP and Director of the South Asia Democratic Forum, who denounced above all the Pakistani government’s use of a ferocious ‘kill and dump’ policy in Balochistan.
The first panel, chaired by Noordin Mengal, discussed Balochistan’s role in the world power game.
Athar Hussain, Director of the Asia Research Centre at LSE, Dr. Naseer Dashti, Baloch writer, and Mohammad Ali Talpur, columnist at the Daily Times, addressed issues such as Pakistan’s inability as a state to protect its citizen and the brutality with which it has addressed tensions with Balochistan.
The second panel brought together Burzine Waghmar from the Centre for the Study of Pakistan at SOAS, journalist Anna Reitman, Nasser Boladai, President of the Baluchistan People’s Party, and Hammal Haider Baloch, spokesperson of the Baloch National Movement.
This panel addressed the talibanisation of Balochistan, the rise of islamic radicalism in South Asia, security in Iranian Balochistan, the key role energy and mining resources play in Balochistan, and the influence of Iran, Pakistan, India and China in the region.
The third panel concentrated on Balochistan’s future and the different ways forward, a subject strongly backed by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
The Congressman stated that Pakistan is not a friend of the United States and of those who believe in peace, prosperity and freedom for the people of the world.
The Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Daud called for a united Baloch front in the struggle against the horrors imposed on the Baloch people by Islamabad.
Tarek Fatah gave a vigorous speech, pointing at the curse of colonialism and the lack of international support to Balochistan, while Pakistan keeps on betraying its international allies.
Prof Joshua Castellino of Middlesex University, spoke about the right to self determination of peoples, and Abubakar Siddique of RFE/RL, addressed issues of enforced disappearances and human rights in Balochistan.
The conference was concluded by Peter Tatchell, political activist and spokesperson for human rights of the Green Party (UK), who outlined his proposals for a way forward for Balochistan, stressing on the importance of forming a united Baloch front capable of convincing the international community.
Noordin Mengal concluded the conference by stating that a sovereign state of Balochistan would not only benefit the Baloch people, but the entire region.
This day-long conference produced the “Conference Declaration on the Restoration of the Rights of the Baloch People in light of Regional and Global Security”.