Pakistan accuses US of meddling in Baluchistan

Pakistan accuses US of meddling in Baluchistan
# 13 February 2012 20:25 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Islamabad on Monday accused Washington of meddling over the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan, threatening to worsen relations still struggling to recover from a series of crises, APA reports quoting AFP.
The foreign ministry said the US Charge d’Affairs, Richard Hoagland, was officially conveyed the government’s serious concern over a US Congressional hearing last week that reportedly discussed human rights abuses in Baluchistan.
Parliament then unanimously passed a resolution condemning a sub-committee hearing in the US Congress, convened by a Republican lawmaker, saying the United States has no jurisdiction to discuss any issue happening in Pakistan.
"The Charge d’Affairs was informed that this was unacceptable as it amounted to interference in the internal affairs of the country," a foreign ministry statement said.
Pakistan’s Baluchistan province has been suffering from a separatist insurgency at the hands of Baluch rebels since 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of the region’s oil, gas and mineral deposits.
Government security officials are often accused of human rights violations and hundreds of people have gone missing, believed detained or killed at the hands of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.
It was unclear whether the anger over the Baluchistan hearing would have any lasting repercussions, or whether it was intended more for an anti-American domestic audience at a time of political uncertainty at home.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was on Monday charged with contempt of court for refusing to re-open corruption cases against the government, paving the way for a trial that could ultimately help force early elections.
Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the State Department, underlined last week that this hearing was a private initiative. "The State Department is not participating or involved in this hearing", she said.
"We emphasise that the United States engages with Pakistan on a whole range of issues, including ways to foster economic development and expand opportunity in Baluchistan", she emphasised.
The resolution in Pakistan’s parliament was tabled by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan from the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League party in the lower house and was unanimously passed, state television said.
"American interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs is unacceptable," the resolution said.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States, allies in the war in Afghanistan, drastically deteriorated last year over the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden and air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The alliance is deeply scarred by mistrust on both sides, with the populations in both countries deeply suspicious of each other’s government.
Pakistan has kept its Afghan border closed to NATO supply trucks since late November, but there had been hopes that the blockade could end soon after the parliament adopts a formal review of the alliance, expected this month.
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