LAHORE – The recent congressional hearing of Balochistan issue by US Committee on Foreign Affairs has raised alarm bells in the Federal capital as it will stir debate in international media providing moral justification to the activities of the centrifuge forces in the province. Islamabad has sharply reacted to this development.

On Monday, the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning US congressional hearing on Balochistan and termed it interference in the internal affairs of the country. US Charge d’Affaires Richard Hoagland was also called in the foreign office and told that such activities were unacceptable and were tantamount to interference in the affairs of Pakistan.

Security experts believe that this uncalled for activity can slowdown the normalisation process. The relations between the two countries took a negative turn with Raymond Davis incident and thereafter constantly degenerated owing to May 2, Abbottabad incident followed by Memogate scandal. It reached its nadir upon unprovoked attack by Nato troops on Salala Post. Since then, Pakistan has suspended Nato supplies and diplomatic efforts are on to put the relations between the two countries back on track.

While the two countries are struggling to resolve their differences, such an undertaking by US Congressmen is perplexing. It conveyed a clear message that they are supportive of foreign funded Baloch dissident leaders and outfits.

In fact Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Louie Gohmert who participated in the hearing have also co-authored an article supporting independent Balochistan. India, Israel, USA and may be other players reportedly are nurturing anti-state elements in the province. The striking example is that of Brahamdagh Bugti who defected to Afghanistan after his grandfather Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in an encounter with the army.

He was looked after by Afghan intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh and subsequently transported to Switzerland on Afghan travel documents, where he is trying to seek asylum. He is actively supported by undercover agents of CIA and RAW.

It is also learnt that he has been heavily funded to maintain Balochistan Liberation Army to stir trouble in the province. Sources privy to the activities of Sardar Akhtar Mengal have revealed that he had a meeting with Israeli and US officials. After the meeting, he instructed his brother to expand and equip Lashkar-e-Balochistan. He also instructed his party to take part in the elections.

That will demonstrate his political as well as militant clout in the province. By projecting himself as the most powerful chieftain, he presumably wishes to bag the biggest chunk of money doled out by donors funding Baloch movement.

Such developments concerning Balochistan are both thought-provoking and sobering. The ground situation in the province is indicative of the heightened tension. Target killing of teachers, doctors and prominent personalities has induced a sense of insecurity. Murder of the wife and daughter of Mir Bakhtiar Domki, a member of Balochistan Assembly, has enraged the people of Balochistan.

The ladies happen to be from Bugti family. In the last few days mutilated bodies of Sangat Sana and Rehman Arif of Baloch Republican Party and that of Mehboob Wadela of Baloch National Movement were found. Though the intelligence agencies have been blamed for these killings but the fact of the matter is that the perpetrators of these crimes simultaneously wish to malign security agencies of the country as well as alienate the people of Balochistan in order to graduate the persistent insurgency in the province a notch higher in violence.

Supporting and escalation insurgency while apparently Americans are all set to leave Afghanistan reflects on their intension to keep this region in a state of turmoil. It may have lesser objectives like coercing Pakistan into complying with American wishes. Yet, this development seriously undermines our sovereignty and if it picks up the pace, it will dilute the scant economic and military resources of the country rendering it highly vulnerable to foreign interference.

Situation for Pakistan is further aggravated by Indo-Afghan security pact. Indians are training Afghan forces on a large scale. Pakistan wishes to have secure western frontiers and therefore is skeptical of enhanced Indian influence in Afghanistan. Heightened militancy in Balochistan may confront Pakistan with a two front war scenario.

Insurgency in Balochistan even if maintained at a low pace will adversely effect development and education in the province while negatively impacting GDP of the country. Persistence of such a situation for next few years will provide Indians with a valuable opportunity to effectively entrench themselves in Afghanistan.

It will also prevent realization of Balochistan as energy corridor and optimization of the operations of Gwadar Port. To arrest the situation government needs to react immediately. It must do what so ever it takes to avert full-blown insurgency in the province. The patriotic people of Balochistan hold the key. Therefore, the political leadership and the government must reach out to them, give them voice, alleviate their grievances, and work with them to pull the country out of the present quagmire.