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Rediff.com  » News » Pro-azadi US lawmaker speaks up for Baluchistan's freedom

Pro-azadi US lawmaker speaks up for Baluchistan's freedom

March 28, 2012 10:13 IST

A senior Republican lawmaker, who is the author of a bill in the United States Congress, calls for independence for Baluchistan from Pakistan and says he still strongly supports independence for Kashmir, reports Aziz Haniffa

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a longtime member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, when asked by a Pakistani journalist at the National Press Club -- where he was briefing reporters on his resolution calling for the right to self-determination for the Baluchi people and for their own sovereign country -- if he would support self-determination for the Kashmiri people, declared, "Yes."

"I actually have introduced several pieces of legislation calling for a vote of the people of Kashmir to determine their self (determination) -- their future," he said. "This is nothing new for me. That's the principle."

However, Rohrabacher lashed out at the Pakistani journalist for asking this question, "I find it despicable that this tactic is being used, 'Oh, let's not talk about Baluchistan, let's talk about Kashmir'."

"I want to tell you something," he continued, "That's not what journalists are supposed to be for. But the reason for it being brought up now is in order to deflect public attention from the crimes of the Pakistani people against the Baluchis."

Rohrabacher said, "So, if anybody wants to ask about Kashmir, fine. Just realise, I am the author of several pieces of legislation to recognise their right to vote, and to recognise the crimes that have been committed against them in order to prevent them from having that vote."

"But," he reiterated, "I am incensed that this is the tactic being used Â…that let's not discuss (Baluchistan). This is part of a cover-up by journalists who are averse to focussing on this to try to get people not to pay attention for the crimes being committed against men, women and children in Baluchistan."

"I have given many speeches on Kashmir. You could check the record. Check the actual bill numbers that's we've got that I introduced recognising that (independence for Kashmir). No, I don't have a double standard, but I think anybody in here who's suggesting that they are for freedom, who then in the middle of a discussion of the crimes against Baluchis, tries to steer people's attention away from that, is not doing the cause of justice or truth a good service."

Rohrabacher, whose resolution was introduced in February, has hardly had any traction and had attracted no more than a handful of co-sponsors, also denied that he was in the pocket of the pro-Baluchistan lobby and being funded by them.

At the time he was strongly arguing for independence for Kashmir, Rohrabacher was coveted by Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council, who was arrested and charged last year with being an Inter-Services Intelligence.

Rohrabacher, reacting to the charge that he's a beneficiary of the pro-Baluchistan lobby's funding, joked, "Everybody knows that my personal finances are really bad. So, no, we receive no financing from anybody. The trips that I have taken have been CODELs (congressional delegations), sponsored by my chairman and I (of the Foreign Affairs Committee).

He said, "I am the chairman of the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and I am a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and this is totally within my jurisdiction and I put these CODELs together."

"They were financed by the US taxpayers because we are then fulfilling our responsibility that we are doing this."

Rohrabacher also dismissed the Pakistan foreign office's complaint that by this resolution, the US Congress was impinging on Pakistan's sovereignty.

"Let me put it this way -- we believe the sovereignty is within the people. So, if you are murdering your people in order to keep power over them and someone else complains about it, the person who is complaining about it, wherever it is, is not violating the sovereignty of that country."

Rohrabacher asserted, "The people who are violating the sovereignty of the country are a vicious regime that murders its own people to stay in power."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC