An unusual hearing took place today in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R – CA) headed a meeting on Pakistan’s province of Balochistan. Publicly, the hearing focused on condemning the Pakistani government and accusing it of broad human rights abuses against the Balochs.
Reports of human rights violations in Pakistani Balochistan are nothing new within the Pakistani press, but the sudden interest among US officials, coupled with eager condemnations from human rights groups, comes with serious undertones.
That is because last month, Rep. Rohrabacher and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R – TX), in a policy paper condemning the Obama Administration, proposed that the US pursue an independent Baloch state “carved out of Pakistan,” nominally to defeat the Taliban.
Gohmert has been keen on this plan for some time, insisting that an independent Balochistan would stop the flow of arms into Afghanistan and be a far better US ally than Pakistan has ever been.
Rohrabacher’s endorsement of it is somewhat more strange, given his history as an outspoken supporter of the Taliban during the Clinton years. Somehow this has morphed into being willing to slice Pakistan down the middle on the off chance it actually harms the Taliban.
The proposal is not new. Indeed, the Pakistani media was all over the story in 2006 when Lt. Col. Ralph Peters began pushing for the creation of “Greater Balochistan” as an independent nation carved out of Pakistan’s Balochistan Province and Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan Province. He also called for Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber-Pakhtoonwhah Province to be ceded to Afghanistan. Pakistan would be left only as a narrow nation along the Indian border.
Peters’ plan was rather ambitious — he further proposed carving up Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, totally redesigning the map of the Middle East. The plan may never have been given serious consideration, but shows that the notion of splitting up Pakistan is not a new one, and is now being given serious consideration in Washington.