WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday reiterated that it supports Pakistan’s territorial integrity after Islamabad voiced anger over a US lawmaker’s call for self-determination in restive Balochistan.The State Department said that it had heard Pakistani diplomats’ complaints both in Islamabad and Washington over the resolution proposed last week by Dana Rohrabacher, an outspoken Republican congressman.
“The United States respects the territorial integrity of Pakistan,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
“Members of Congress introduce legislation on many foreign affairs topics, but they don’t in any way imply US government endorsement of those positions,” she said.
“With regard to Balochistan itself, we encourage all the parties in Balochistan to work out their differences peaceably and through a political process,” she said.
Balochistan in southwestern Pakistan has been torn by violence since 2004, with human rights groups charging that hundreds have been detained, killed or gone missing as government forces try to crush the uprising.
Baloch rebels want a greater share of the oil, gas and mineral deposits in the region touching Iran and Afghanistan. Taliban and sectarian extremists have also taken up arms in the region.
Rohrabacher recently chaired a hearing on Balochistan and Friday proposed a resolution saying that the Baloch people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country, and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.”
Two fellow Republicans joined Rohrabacher in sponsoring the resolution but few believe it has chances of approval soon. Rohrabacher earlier pushed unsuccessfully to cut off all aid to Pakistan after US forces found and killed Osama bin Laden on its soil.
Pakistani leaders including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have repeatedly voiced outrage over Rohrabacher’s efforts on Balochistan, amid strong anti-US sentiment in the country.
Rohrabacher’s proposal is a “concurrent resolution,” meaning that even if passed it would not have legal force and would not need the signature of President Barack Obama, a member of the rival Democratic Party. (AFP)