Apr 27, 2012

Balochistan: US Congress Hears of Persecution

U.S. Congressman Ted Poe has stated that there has been an increase in the neglect and persecution of the Baloch people by the government of Pakistan.

Below is an article published by the Indian Express:

Alleging that Pakistan has increased the persecution of the people of Balochistan, a key US lawmaker has said that human rights violation and oppression is forcing the restive province towards self-determination.

"Should the government of Pakistan continue to not only neglect but persecute the Baloch people, it is hard to argue with Balochs who demand self-determination," Congressman Ted Poe said.

"In the end, a government is only legitimate as long as it has the support of its people. The government of Pakistan is dangerously close to that line," Poe said.

Speaking on the floor of the US House of Representatives, the Congressman urged Islamabad to give the Baloch people a voice in how they will be governed.

They should not only listen to their complaints, but answer them with positive steps, he said.

"This distinct group of people, who once held autonomous status, was deprived of their freedom without consideration when the British Empire invaded the area.

"When the British took control over the area they divided the Baluchistan land into three separate parts, giving part of the land to Persia in 1896 while retaining the largest portion for India. The third and final division of the land by the British occurred in 1894 that gave part of Baluchistan to Afghanistan," Poe said.

Once the British relinquished control and India and Pakistan separated, the majority of Balochistan was forcefully annexed to Pakistan in 1948.

The Baloch people never had any say, they were never asked if they wanted to be part of Pakistan, he said.

"Since then, the government of Pakistan has neglected them. Look at almost any indicator and the Baloch people are worse off than other Pakistanis. Life expectancy, school enrollment, and adult literacy are all particularly low amongst the Baloch people.

"This is ironic when you look at all the large reserves of gas, oil, gold, copper, silver, platinum, aluminium, and uranium it has," he said.