`Pakistan has increased persecution of Balochis`

A key US lawmaker has said that human rights violation and oppression are forcing Baluchistan towards self-determination.

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

"Should the government of Pakistan continue to not only neglect but persecute the Baluch people, it is hard to argue with Baluchs 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 Baluch 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 Baluchistan was forcefully annexed to Pakistan in 1948.

The Baluch 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 Baluch people are worse off than other Pakistanis. Life expectancy, school enrolment, and adult literacy are all particularly low amongst the Baluch 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. "The Baluch people have the resources to take care of themselves, but the government of Pakistan takes the resources and either puts tight constraints on the profit that goes back to the Baluchs or gives the profit away to its friends," he claimed.

"For example, the government has historically required Baluchistan to sell gas at a lower rate than the other provinces. Baluchistan receives a mere USD 0.29 per thousand cubic feet for its gas, while nearby Sindh gets USD 1.65 and Punjab receives USD 2.35.”

"Pakistan gave the exploration rights to the Saindak copper mine to the Chinese, so the Chinese will get most of the profit and the Pakistan profit the rest," he said.

"It is not just neglect of the Baluch people but also outright persecution. Since 2005, Pakistani human rights organisations have recorded numerous serious human rights violations by security forces, including extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and excessive use of force.”

"According to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, violence in 2005 around Dera Bugti district alone displaced around 6,000 people and killed scores. Over 2009 and 2010, Human Rights Watch detailed 45 cases of alleged forced disappearances," the Congressman said.