The US has assured Pakistan that the US Congress will not be adopting the resolution that one of its subcommittees recently passed on Balochistan. US Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Hoagland said in Islamabad on Sunday that he had clarified to the Pakistan Foreign Office his government’s position on the issue, by explaining the fact that the resolution was the brainchild of just one Congressman and that it would not be included in the Congress agenda. Mr Hoagland also stressed, “The US is waiting anxiously for the verdict of the (Pakistani) Parliament on the relations between the two countries. America wants good working relations with Pakistan.” Pakistani political circles, social organisations and the public, erupted in protest at the resolution’s wording, with particular reference to the call for the grant of the right of self-determination to the people of Balochistan. Justifiably, it was thus termed blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan, through a document that lacked insight into the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation was ignored and instead of explaining that it was a few dissident leaders, all of the Baloch population was labelled discontent within Pakistan. The resolution and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s outburst on the situation in the province were seen in Pakistan as attempts at supporting the dissidents and, therefore, helping muddy the waters of Pak-US ties. Balochistan, where there is repeatedly touted evidence of foreign involvement, has become a highly sensitive issue for Pakistanis and, thus, protests and demonstrations condemning the resolution continue to take place.

Other developments on Balochistan are also noteworthy, including Prime Minister Gilani's change of heart over his decision to call an all parties conference. He is reported to have said that the convening of the conference depended upon the agreement of all the stakeholders to participate. This follows the refusal of the PML-N to participate unless its conditions are met: the resolution of the crisis pertaining to the missing persons and bringing to trial the culprits of the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti. These issues are so involved that, perhaps, it would have been better to put them on the agenda of the APC and definite progress on them was made conditional to its success. Dissidents also rejected the call to attend the APC. At the same time, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council's call has also been soundly snubbed by all Baloch and Pashtun political parties.

The lack of credibility of the federal government to seriously take up the challenge of sorting out the Balochistan tangled skein, follows directly from its superficial attempts at satisfying the Baloch with the carrot of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan that, unfortunately, has remained largely on paper. Had this package been implemented with sincerity and commitment for removing the sense of alienation of the local population, there would have been no need for APCs at this stage.