The US House Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs recently conducted a hearing on Balochistan, under the chair of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. The sub-committee subsequently had placed its report and recommendations before the Congress for its approval. While castigating Pakistan for HR violations, it proposed congressional resolution on self-determination for Balochistan. It was not only a gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, but also against the UN Charter on non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. It was all the more an unfortunate act against Pakistan, which was supposedly a “non-Nato ally” and a frontline “strategic partner” of the US. It was untimely, since Pakistan’s Parliament was, at that time, considering normalising relations with the US after the murderous Salalah attack. Indeed, it was the “unkindest cut” of all against the country that had suffered so grievously for siding with the US in its war against terrorism in this region.

Among those who presented their testimonies to the Committee was one Mr Kumar (obviously of Indian origin), the Director International Advocacy for Amnesty International. He called upon the US to apply the “Leahy Amendment” to Pakistan military units operating in Balochistan. The amendment prohibits assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights.

Mr Kumar should have known that there were no military units taking part in any counter-insurgency operations in Balochistan, only rangers/scouts - civil armed forces under the control of the Ministry of Interior had been deployed to assist the local police for maintaining law and order at the behest of the elected provincial government, a norm under any democratic dispensation.

What Mr Kumar had conveniently failed to mention was that over 700,000, mostly Indian military troops, along with some paramilitary personnel, had been deployed in the Indian occupied Kashmir for more than two decades - the highest concentration of armed forces anywhere in the world - one soldier for every family in the valley of Kashmir! They are free to arrest, maim and kill under a black law called TADA, passed by Parliament of “democratic India” to ensure continued occupation of Kashmir by force of arms.

The scale of brutalities of the Indian armed forces in Kashmir should be evident from the following:

It is a matter of a great shame for the free world - the “champions of the human rights”- for ignoring such carnage for so long. And for the “biggest democracy” in the world to perpetuate such terrible atrocities - all because the Kashmiris demand their inalienable right to self-determination, enshrined in the UN resolutions that India has consistently flouted over the past 63 years.

The Congress Sub-committee’s holding of hearing on Balochistan - an integral part of Pakistan and with a democratically-elected provincial government - while ignoring the HR violations in Kashmir - a disputed territory so recognised by UNO - was sheer hypocrisy, to say the least. More so, when one considers that there are 25 insurgencies going on in India today, where the oppressed people are fighting for their fundamental rights. Yet, the Sub-committee considers it ‘kosher’ to single out Pakistan for insurgency in Balochistan that in fact had been hatched, aided and abetted by India’s RAW based in Afghanistan, as corroborated by another participant, Dr Christine Fair, known for her frank views.

Dr Fair, an eminent Assistant Professor at George Town University, in her testimony opined: “Given the ethnic diversity of the province, its complicated history and existing geographic constraints, an independent Balochistan was untenable.” Thank you, Dr Fair for your candid observation! What the renowned Dr failed to mention in her testimony was that quite a while ago she had visited the Indian Consulates in Afghanistan (some located close to the Pak-Afghan border), where she had found them engaged in activities other than just issuing visas. She also claimed that some Indian consulars had confided in her that they were “pumping money into Balochistan!” Subsequent to her visit, she openly discussed her observations in the prestigious Rand Corporations (a public sector thinktank).

Similarly, responsible high officials of Pakistan, including a Governor of Balochistan, too, had repeatedly pointed out India’s gross interference in the province through its notorious agency, RAW, based in Afghanistan. In fact, the Interior Minister of Pakistan had so stated on the very floor of the National Assembly.

It may be recalled that India’s RAW (akin to CIA) had masterminded the breakaway of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by orchestrating an independence movement backed by Bengali militants: The Mukti Bahini, who were armed and trained by India to destabilise and then to dismember Pakistan. The same tactics were being replicated for Balochistan where BLA (Baloch Liberation Army) and other militant organisations were being funded and (mis) guided by the RAW based in Afghanistan.

It is also obvious that the Afghan government mostly comprising the northerners (non-Pashtuns), who hate Pakistan for siding with the Taliban (Pashtuns) in the post-Soviet Afghan civil war, is supportive of RAW. Brahamdagh Khan Bugti - a dissident Baloch leader - was given refuge in Afghanistan and lodged close to President Hamid Karzai’s house till Pakistan protested, when he was relocated in Europe.

However, what needs to be clarified is whether the CIA, too, (along with Mossad and others) is clandestinely supporting the insurgency in Balochistan? It would be hard to imagine that with USA’s overwhelming presence in Afghanistan, CIA would not know what is going on “under its very nose!” So the name of the game is to support insurgency in Balochistan and when Pakistan tries to quell it, holler about human right abuses: “Heads I win, tail you lose”- the familiar tactics used in the breakaway of East Pakistan by RAW. Only this time, it seemingly had the added support of India’s various strategic partners.

The obvious conclusion is that sooner Pakistan disassociated itself from the thankless and counterproductive US war on terror, the better. Likewise, the sooner Pakistan recast the perimeters of its relationship with the US to safeguard its national interests, the better.

Above all, Pakistan must no longer let RAW play hell with it with impunity. It should raise a RAW-specific agency (by drawing upon experienced hands from its various civil and military intelligence agencies) to exclusively focus on its nefarious activities in Balochistan, to anticipate and counter its mischief and if the “push comes to shove”, to payback the Indian agency in its own coin. All that may sound somewhat hawkish, but when the very integrity of the country is deliberately and systematically being undermined, one must use all means possible to protect it.

The one-sided hearing by the Subcommittee and some very unkind remarks by various Congressmen about Pakistan were indicative of USA’s unfolding policy in the region. The recent Indo-Afghan strategic treaty (no doubt with a nod from Washington) was part of that policy. That India backed by the US would be the key player in Afghanistan once the bulk of US/Isaf troops are withdrawn by 2014. It had already been agreed that India would train 400,000 of Afghanistan’s armed forces personnel - mostly comprising northerners - with the financial support by US/Nato. That would surely pose a very serious threat to Pakistan in being encircled by a hostile Afghanistan to the west and its eternal adversary to the east. A very dangerous scenario involving two nuclear armed antagonists, with all the possibility of engulfing the entire region, Dr Huntington, the late Harvard University Professor, who made such predictions in his Clash of the Civilisations, could turn out to be right - after all.

Tailpiece: While the conspiracy of “free Balochistan” was being hatched by the outside powers in collusion with the dissident Baloch sardars, there was hardly any protest by the 65 elected members of Balochistan’s Provincial Assembly - with 58 ministers and advisors and no opposition! Each had been, reportedly, been paid Rs 25 crores for the uplift of their respective districts with little visible results! It was also reported that most of the Provincial Assembly sessions were cancelled due to lack of quorum, as majority of the ministers, including the Chief Minister, were missing from Quetta for months. Apparently, the mantra of democracy is not working for Balochistan.

The writer is a retired air marshal and member of the National Security Forum.