The people of Balochistan have the right to self-determination and their own sovereignty, according to the United States House of Representatives Committee on foreign affairs.
The reasoning behind this article is to question the motives of any Western power to support the Balochi independence cause. Not for a moment am I going to excuse the heinous crimes committed by the Pakistani military in Balochistan. The Americans do not care for the freedom of the Baloch people. If the chair of the committee, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, really cared about freedom he would have spoken up for many other people around the world a long time ago.
Wikileaks released cables on Rohrabacher’s trip to Honduras where Rohrabacher promoted business after a military coup had disposed the democratically elected president and installed Porfirio Lobo, a candidate backed by the military and the oligarchy. A quick look at Rohrabacher’s campaign funding tells you that he is a good friend of big business and therefore it should come as no surprise that Balochistan is rich in natural gas, coal and uranium. But it is not just big business backers that drive Rohrabacher, he is also ideologically driven. The Republican Representative voted against supporting democratic institutions in Pakistan but voted for cooperating with India as a nuclear power. An ardent believer of free market economics, he is also opposed to the expansion of the influence of China and has spoken vociferously against communism. His views on Iran are very clear. Rohrabacher supports a potential strike by Israel against Iran – it is worth noting that the Balochistan region also crosses over into Iran.
Another ‘expert’ witness, Ralph Peters, a retired US Lieutenant Colonel, was eager to give his biased opinion. As far back as 2006, he had drawn up maps of Pakistan with Balochistan as a separate state. In 2008 in an article for the New York Post he wrote that, “Pakistan suffers from a flawed founding vision: Islam has not been enough to unite Sindhis and Punjabis, Baluchis and Pashtuns.” He is an expert for Fox News, that bastion of ‘fair and balanced’ reporting, and on there he ranted, that Jullian Assange should be assassinated for being a ‘cyber-terrorist’. Can Peter’s opinions really be taken seriously and can we blame Pakistanis for thinking that he has an ulterior motive here?
Dr Hossein Bor, an American Baloch, sounded like a colonial servant as he pimped himself out to Rohrabacher. Attempting to appeal to the US for support for the independence of Balochistan he cited the rich natural resources of Balochistan, the Iranian oil pipeline, Afghan Taliban, and the Gwadar port. It seems that some in the Baloch freedom movement are happy to be used as US proxies to achieve their freedom. When asked about the Baloch people and the West he replied, “they have welcomed US support with open arms.” He also stated that if Balochistan became independent that they would provide the US with military bases in Gwadar and went on to say that Balochistan “is the most strategically important piece of land in the world”. Dr Bor spoke more like an American hawk than an expert witness, and also warned of the dangers of China’s naval base in Gwadar. He was there to sell the cause of Baloch nationalism to the US and did it through scaremongering about China and talking to the hawks about US strategic interests.
Freedom for the Baloch people is not the primary concern for the US, but countering China is. The Chinese government has invested heavily in the Gwadar port in Balochistan. The port city will be connected to the Karakoram highway, which connects Pakistan and China, and that China has been helping Pakistan to widen. The Gwadar port gives China access to the Arabian Sea, strategically close to the Gulf through which 30% of the world’s oil is shipped. Having China so close to the Strait of Hormuz and access to the shortest route to Central Asia states via Afghanistan makes the US nervous. In a US Department of Defence report the port was referred to as being part of the ‘String of Pearls’ initiative, which sees China strategically placing itself in locations to ensure its energy security. Where do the Balochs and Pakistanis fit into all of this? They are but pawns in the new Great Game being played out by the US.
This article was also published in the Huffington Post on 28 February 2012