U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Demands Referendum in Balochistan on the Question of Independence
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) convened an international conference at The Royal Society, London on Sunday 24 February 2013 entitled ‘Global and Regional Security Challenges in South Asia: What Future for Balochistan?’.
Global and Regional Security Challenges in South Asia:
What Future for Balochistan?
U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Demands Referendum
in Balochistan on the Question of Independence
Brussels, 25 February 2013 – 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, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, gave a poignant speech urging for the freedom of 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. Dana Rohrabacher called for Pakistani officials to be tried for war crimes. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) was also present.
Congressman Dana Rorhabacher addresses the assembly
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 talibanization 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.
Nasser Boladai, Andrew Swan (UNPO), Burzine Waghmar, Anna Reitman
The third panel concentrated on Balochistan’s future and the different ways forward, a subject strongly backed by U.S. 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. His Royal Highness, 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.
Guests at The Royal Society
Second from left, HRH Khan of Kalat Mir Suleman Daud, Congressman Brian Higgins in the middle, and far right, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
HRH the Khan of Kalat delivers his speech as the Congressman looks on
The conference was concluded by Peter Tatchell, political activist and spokesperson for human rights of the Green Party (U.K.), 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”.
Peter Tatchell at the lectern
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Thank you very much.
I just saw a statue of Ronald Reagan in front of the American Embassy and I was very inspired. I met Ronald Reagan when I was about 18 years old and most of you know I served with him in the White House for 7 years. It seems that his accomplishments are being acknowledged now and this is a great surprise for me. Most of us who worked for Reagan did not believe that his accomplishments would be recognised for 2 or 3 generations. We ended the Cold War without a major fight between the Soviet Union, and Soviet Communism, and the United States. What a great accomplishment!
We live in a world now, because of what Reagan did, and other leaders of the day did, to make this a better world. We live in a world where we have the potential to solve all of the perplexing problems that plague mankind since our beginnings, we have the chance now. We have developed technology, and technology is currently in a development phase, that will carry mankind, if given its opportunity, to higher areas and more benign living and peace, than anyone could ever have dreamed about so many years ago.
A century ago, the average people of this world did not dream of a better life for them or their family, did not dream of a time when they could have their basic needs taken care of. They dreamed of how they were going to get by the very next day and now we have, because of technology and the leaps that we are about to make which are much greater than the technology leaps we have done in the past. As member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Vice Chairman of the House of Representatives Science Committee, my perceptions are based on the potential that we are developing in the area of technology.
But yet, while we have all this technology, we still have forces at play in the human beings throughout the world, that will hold us back and the same forces that plague those who have aspirations for a better life for people on this planet and the dynamic forces that I’m talking about, that threaten us, are forces that were put into place during the Cold War. For example, those things that we did in the Reagan White House I think ended the Cold War by going away from some of the things that had been done before Reagan, but we now have some of the things that were in place during the Cold War that undermine peace, prosperity and freedom throughout the world and some people are still living in the Cold War – in America and in Russia – there are still people thinking in terms of the mentality of the Cold War and this eliminates a lot of the opportunity for cooperation that would serve the interests of all nations concerned.
For example, the government of India, only now is making the transition, in many people’s eyes, from where they were aligned with Russia, the Soviet Union, during the Cold War to now being a very democratic country. It was then as well, but being aligned with the West. They should be a good friend of the United States and that is widely recognised – fewer people recognise perhaps that what was the Soviet Union and what is Russia should be a good friend to the United States. But the Cold War is only one of the factors that I am addressing in terms of the dynamic that is preventing us from having this better world that I would envision.
The other is a dynamic that was put into place – and it is very fitting that we are here in Great Britain in, you might say, the epicentre of colonialism – because there are a lot of forces that are still at play in our world preventing us from solving problems and seeking to uplift mankind, that were put in place during the colonial times – and remember that I am a Republican, not a monarch, and so I’m very proud that we were the first guys who took on the strongest colonial power but Britain and the United States, of course, since then have been and should be the very best of friends. But the colonial powers, mainly European, intentionally created national boundaries to divide and conquer the various peoples of the world – especially in the undeveloped world.
That was a game plan that plagues us today. During the Cold War, the United States had to operate and set its strategy based on the threat that was right in front of us; that was Soviet Communism. We ended up – sometimes my country violated and compromised its basic principles in order to defeat the threat of Soviet Communism right there. Let me explain one thing; I was a member of Ronald Reagan’s senior staff – I was a special assistant to the President, I was one of Ronald Reagan’s senior speechwriters for 7 years. Ronald Reagan changed the way we were fighting the Cold War and I know a lot of people and liberal intellectuals can’t accept that, but he did. The fact is, when Reagan came in the object was to be anti-Communist and find anti-Communist alternatives. Ronald Reagan turned it into a war between democracy and freedom on one side and Communism and dictatorship on the other. That is when we started winning the Cold War and also there was a thing called the Reagan Doctrine.
The Reagan Doctrine was instead of putting our army out to fight the Soviet Union, we are going to help those people struggling for freedom who are fighting our enemies. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. That formula is what brought the Cold War to an end and we saw for example a great expansion of democracy in Central and South America. That is not recognised; that before Reagan most of those countries were all dictatorships and after Reagan left there was a period, before things started going in the opposite direction again after about a decade where almost every one of these countries was democratic. That was the Reagan Doctrine and a commitment to freedom, not just stopping Communism. That is what ended the Cold War and that is what gave the world a chance to leave that behind us.
So, when Reagan left, I thought I was going to be able to retire from politics and become a professional surfer and folk singer. I am not a very good folk singer and I am not really a good surfer, so I hung around. In short, I did not think I would have to stay in politics to make it a better world but we have evolved now to where there are great threats to people who want freedom and who want to build a better planet and the threats I have in mind, and which I think are very clear to those of us in the West, are radical Islam – which is at our throats today – and China which is positioning itself to strangle us in the future. It behoves us to face this reality if we are to be successful in making it a better and safer world, just as Ronald Reagan had to find the right strategy.
First and foremost, I suggest, the most important thing is facing facts and American policy makers have got to look at the world as it is, face the facts, and make decisions based on this and not on some dynamic that was created by British colonialism or even a dynamic created during the Cold War and that perhaps the most important of those facing facts is that Pakistan is not a friend of the United States and it is not a friend of those who believe in peace and prosperity for the people of the world and freedom for the people of the world. That is the most important fact we have got to learn if we are going to bring peace to a whole region of the world that is in turmoil.
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. So that is the first thing we have got to do and that means we have got to realise that the ISI is a major command force and force of direction and supply for radical Islam throughout the world.
So 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. We could have had a much more peaceful place today and in the last 10 years in Afghanistan, had not the ISI in Pakistan decided they wanted to dominate that country. At the same time, you have the people of Balochistan – who are independent people – who again were divided by British colonial interests.
Those things are behind us now, but the people of Balochistan always deserved their freedom and we need to recognise that just because somebody, maybe in this building, 150 years ago made some decision about where the lines were going to be drawn down in South Asia; “Oh yeah, well the Baloch don’t count, we can divide them”, etcetera. We do not have to honour those boundaries; we must honour the principles that God gave rights to every individual and every people have a right to gather together and have the right to self-determination. I know there are a lot of people who say, “Well you’re opening up a can of worms for conflict all over the world when you say that”. Well I am not. Because if there are some people who are satisfied because their government is democratic, and they are being treated well and they get along with the other people who have been put together during the colonial times and during the Cold War, they will not be revolting against their government because they are satisfied with it. They will choose – they are choosing – by not revolting against it, to accept those boundaries. But for people who do not accept the colonial powers’ boundaries and will fight because they are being oppressed by some other ethnic group that they have been forced into a relationship with; no, we should be on the side of self-determination. Those people have a right and hopefully a right that we can give them through the ballot box and not through guns; they have a right to self-determination.
This is the heart of the matter now in Balochistan and in that part of the world. I proudly stand up with the people, whether it is Balochistan or elsewhere, who believe that they would rather have a separate country than to be part of whatever country that is. The same way as my founding fathers in my country demanded their right to self-determination. People forget to read the Declaration of Independence sometimes. I hope you have read the Declaration of Independence. It talks about why every people have a right, given by God, to direct their own course through the ballot box and to be free and independent, but then it describes why we as Americans were fighting back in 1776; go on, read it. There was a list of atrocities being committed by the British crown upon the American people. It is the very same atrocities, only more, that are being committed by Pakistan against the people of Balochistan today. So, if we are going to be true to our ideals, it means first and foremost when we have people like the Baloch, to get behind them, and the people of Afghanistan, and get behind them and say, “Look, we’re going to try to find a peaceful solution to your problem but if they start killing and dumping bodies all over your country, you can bet we’re going to be on your side, and not on the side of the murderers and gangsters committing these crimes.
I will end it with this, I get all sorts of people on my case about this and they are assuming that, for example, when I first started supporting the people of Balochistan, that I was just a “tool of India”. They kept going, “Well why don’t you say anything about Kashmir”. Just to remind everybody, I did propose a resolution in Congress supporting the people of Kashmir’s right to a referendum to determine their self-determination of whether they wanted to be part of India, or independent, or part of Pakistan. Yes, that’s right; the people of Kashmir. All the people who would tweet me and say “You’re an idiot and you’re supporting the Indian cause”, I say “Wait a minute, who’s the idiot here? I support having a referendum for all of these people, including those in India, if the Kashmiris don’t want to be part of it”. So, I’ve had to tweet back and tell them, “What about you? Why aren’t you supporting them? The same thing that you say I should support for Kashmir – which I do – why aren’t you supporting the people of Balochistan?” So we have got to try to find a peaceful method and the peaceful method is this; let’s demand a referendum. Let’s demand a referendum! And if the Pakistanis, who keep saying, “Oh, the Baloch people really want to be part of Pakistan, they love us, that’s why we’re killing their children”.
The fact is, the best way to end this is not through more killing, let us try to reason together. 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. Again, people say, “You must love the Balochi people” or “You must love these people”. Oh no, I love freedom, I love democracy, I love the fact that ordinary people can live decent lives and I love those principles and to the degree that the Baloch have that as their aspirations, I am going to be on their side. I will not be on someone’s side because of their ethnicity or anything like that. I think it behooves all of us to recognise these fundamental principles and it’s basically the good guys on this planet need to stick together and when the bad guys are brutalising some people who want nothing more than to control their own lives and set their own destinies through the ballot box.
Let us good guys side with those who are being oppressed. We should always as a matter of principle, support those who are oppressed and struggling for freedom, and oppose their oppressor rather than trying to make short-term profit deals, as some people in our country like to do, with these gangsters who are murdering other human beings. That is not the American way and I can assure you that the American people, many of us, still have that spark, that love of freedom, that is supposed to be the essence our country. The other essence of our country, by the way, is that we come from every ethnic background, there’s every race and every religion in our country but what unites us, hopefully – the only thing that can unite us – is if we stay true to those principles.
Thank you very much and we are with you.
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- Conference Declaration on the Restoration of the Rights of the Baloch People in light of Regional and Global Security
- Opening Remarks by Marino Busdachin, Noordin Mengal and Paulo Casaca
- Speech by Dr Nasser Dashti
- Speech by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
- Speech by Burzine Waghmar
- Speech by Anna Reitman
- Speech by Nasser Boladai
- Speech by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
- Speech by HRH Mir Suleman Daud, the Khan of Kalat
- Speech by Tarek Fatah
- Speech by Peter Tatchell