'US Congressional hearing may prove troublesome for Pak over atrocities in Balochistan'

Washington, Feb 7 (ANI): The United States (US) Committee on Foreign Affairs' congressional hearing on Wednesday (February 8) for an exclusive discussion on Balochistan may lead to a problematic situation for Pakistan.

Amid a situation wherein the allies' mutual relationship seems to be deteriorating, experts believe that the powerful House of Representatives committee that oversees America's foreign assistance programmes can recommend halting US assistance to Pakistan over human rights violations in Balochistan, The Dawn quoted a piece by Malik Siraj Akbar, a freelance journalist based in Washington DC and the author of 'The Redefined Dimensions of the Baloch Nationalist Movement'.

While Islamabad has strictly treated Balochistan as an internal matter, the debate on such a divisive topic by the powerful committee has highlighted the level of American interest in Balochistan and its support, if any, for the nationalist movement.

Pakistan has always kept Washington at a distance on the Balochistan issue by refusing to grant it permission to open a consulate in Quetta. However, reports suggest that the meeting could alter the situation, the author said.

A Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who recently co-authored an article with Congressman Louie Gohmert expressing support for an independent Balochistan, will chair the hearing.

"Perhaps we should even consider support for a Balochistan carved out of Pakistan to diminish radical power there (in Pakistan)," Rohrabacher wrote in his piece.

According to Asia-Pacific Reporting Blog, "it is expected that the hearing will tackle issues related to whether or not the US Congress should tie human rights issues in Balochistan to Pakistani aid."

Dr. Akbar S. Ahmed, Pakistan's former high commissioner to the United Kingdom, told Dawn.com that the congressional hearing was a "significant step" in highlighting Balochistan's problems.

"The information provided in the event will not only be used by members of the US Congress but will also be picked up by the world media," he said.

"The shocking stories of torture and murder in Balochistan will become part of the public debate. It is in the interest of Pakistan to quickly and effectively resolve the situation in Balochistan bringing back the Baluch with honour, respect and dignity," Dr Ahmed, who is currently the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University in Washington, added. (ANI)