The National Assembly, in a unanimous resolution passed on Monday, condemned the US Congress hearing on Balochistan, terming it “blatant interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs”. The Congressional Foreign Relations Subcommittee had taken up the situation in the province for debate last week, and accusations of grave human rights violations by the security forces were levelled. Some of its members even ventured to raise the issue of self-determination for the Baloch, saying that the only way for the province to get out of the existing mess was to achieve independence from Pakistan. The NA resolution took serious note of it, maintaining that the hearing was totally unacceptable and the US administration needed to play a proactive role in discouraging such ill-informed and motivated debates on sensitive issues of a foreign country. On the other hand, the American position, as explained by US Chargé d’Affaires Richard Hoagland who was summoned to the Foreign Office for making a démarche with Washington, was that the US administration had neither extended any support to the initiative nor did it subscribe to such views.

The NA resolution rightly pointed out that the Congressional debate was happening when Pak-US ties were passing through a bad patch. Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who moved the resolution, also took the government to task for turning a blind eye to the violation of territorial sovereignty by drones.

While successive governments, both federal and provincial, cannot be absolved from the charge that they have signally failed to take steps to remove the sense of discrimination felt by the local population, it is unfortunate that even friends are muddying the waters for us with an eye on its strategic significance. The province is rich in mineral wealth and other natural resources and has a 750km long coastline. Balochistan, with a vast hinterland consisting of Central Asia stretching into China, is an ideally located province for trade.

The government, as suggested by Chaudhry Nisar, should hold dialogue with Baloch dissidents and take steps to remove their genuine grievances. Equal focus must be on tackling the ample supply of money and arms being provided in Balochistan, with the intent of creating trouble for Pakistan. The US will not benefit from interference in Pakistan's internal affairs and such hurtful remarks about Pakistan will have serious repercussions for a US image already battered and broken in Pakistani minds.