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US stays away from Modi’s position on Balochistan

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WASHINGTON: In a carefully calibrated statement on Balochistan, the United States on Monday stayed away from an Indian effort to generate an international controversy over the restive province and instead urged all parties to resolve their differences peacefully.

In India’s Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan of committing human rights violations in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and claimed that people of those regions had thanked him for supporting them.

Pakistan reacted angrily to the speech, calling it a breach of international norms and intrusion in the country’s sovereignty.

“We have consistently urged all parties in Pakistan to work out their differences peaceably and through a valid political process,” a US State Depar­tment official told Dawn when asked to comment on the situation in Balochistan following Mr Modi’s comments.

In an earlier statement, also about Balochistan, the department’s deputy spokesman Mark Toner had assured Pakistan of its support to the country’s territorial integrity.

Another State Department official said there had been no change in the US policy on this issue.

Replying to a question, the official said: “We have seen reports of the clashes between protesters and Indian forces in Kashmir, and are concerned by the violence.”

As in his comments on the situation in Balochistan, the official encouraged “all sides to make efforts towards finding a peaceful resolution”.

Commenting on Mr Modi’s statement, Pakistani officials and media said he was trying to hide the atrocities committed by Indian security forces in held Kashmir by bracketing the situation in the valley with Balochistan, which, unlike Kashmir, was not a disputed territory.

But the Indian effort to internationalise the situation in Balochistan received support from the Bangladeshi government and former Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

During a visit to India, Bangladeshi Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said Bangladesh supported Mr Modi’s stand on Balochistan and would soon make a policy declaration on the issue. Mr Karzai said Mr Modi’s remarks should make the Pakistan government “see the gravity of the situation”.

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