Rohrabacher’s Pressler moment

By Fahd Husain

Dana Rohrabacher has just become a meddlesome villain. But is he a lone ranger, or is something more sinister cooking in Washington DC?

The resolution that Rohrabacher has introduced in the US House of Representatives calling upon Pakistan to recognise the Baloch right of self-determination is an outrageous act of provocation. It is shocking in content, and deliberately insensitive in wording. And it will wreck the atmosphere prior to the debate on the new rules of engagement that Pakistan has put together to deal with the United States.

But clearly there is more to it than a US politician looking to back an issue which can guarantee him headlines. Rohrabacher would like nothing more than to grab centre-stage in the volatile arena of Pakistan-US relations. Remember Larry Pressler? He was a random US politician who introduced an amendment in the 1980’s calling for US aid to be cut to Pakistan if the US president certified that Pakistan had crossed the nuclear threshold. The piece of legislation came to be known as the Pressler Amendment, and it kicked into effect when George Bush the Elder decided it was time to squeeze Pakistan. The Pressler Amendment, and its author, single-handedly soiled Pakistan-US ties for almost a decade. Rohrabacher is now donning the Pressler mantle. But the repercussions of his mischief have the potential to be far more damaging than Pressler’s. He is, in fact, reinforcing the widely-held impression that the US is out to destroy Pakistan.

Let’s not use the word ‘destroy’ lightly. It conjures up images of what the Americans did in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. It paints a picture of bombing sorties, burnt out cities, tens of thousands killed and a country reduced to a wasteland. Transplant these images on to Pakistan and it send shivers down your spine. This is the worst case scenario.

What is possible though is the triggering of a series of events which can snowball into unpredictable situations. In fact, the unthinkable has already started: a very public and a very acrimonious debate on the demand for an independent Balochistan. As long as such a debate was confined to private conversation, or a limited section of the very local and regional press, it could be ignored. Such a debate, based on such demands, never reached a stage where it could be taken seriously. Yes Baloch have genuine grievances, yes they had suffered from criminal neglect, and yes their alienation from Islamabad was never really seriously addressed, but the simmering situation remained on the fringes of our national discourse.

Not anymore. By plucking this issue from the fringes and placing it bang centre in Washington DC, Rohrabacher has transformed the dynamics of the entire issue within a month. The resolution he has just introduced will ensure that this debate gains traction, both in the American and Pakistani media.

What do we do? Issuing condemnations is not enough. Our outrage at this blatant interference in our affairs should be heard loud and clear. The US government will try and distance itself from Rohrabacher and mouth the usual statements. Our parliament will probably pass a counter-resolution and pile pressure on the hapless Gilani government to rake Washington over coals. This is all for public consumption, and there isn’t much wrong in doing so.

But the real task is two-fold: First, get our facts clear on Rohrabacher, his resolution, and what’s happening at his back. If ever, a deep behind-the-scenes information on what’s cooking in Washington DC was ever required, it is now. Our new ambassador has a huge challenge on her hands. Second, and more important, is for us to get a grip on the situation in Balochistan, which is spiralling out of control with each passing day. Killing and counter-killings now seem locked in a vicious cycle which no one is able to stop. Despite extreme positions, the door to dialogue needs to open. Rules of engagement need to be spelt out, and the Establishment needs to change tack.

Rohrabacher is indulging in villainy because we are providing him fodder. He is exploiting our weakness. Let’s condemn him for what he is doing, but at the same time douse the flames that we have lit ourselves.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2012.

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  • Peter Chamberlain  On February 19, 2012 at 11:50 am

    If things go according to plan, Balochistan will be the next to see the Libyan/Syrian solution applied. If the Washington subversion can generate enough publicity it will inspire the activists in Balochistan to take greater risks, hoping that their plight will be picked-up by the Imperial press.

  • Anjum Kiani  On February 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    The undeclared war on #Pakistan has begun… Are we al ready to weed out those that they have sent behind our lines? We have the ability to defeat the enemy who is infront of us but the real battle is with the Fakeliberal & khwarji alliance within us!

  • Maidhc  On February 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks, Yasmeen.

    If you have Fahd Husain’s contact details, please consider forwarding him this piece:


  • Syed Wajahat  On February 20, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Ladies an Gentlemen:
    What Fahd Husain has writtenwas obvious in t Rohrabacher’s
    conference video. What is missing are suggestions on what Paksitan Government
    needs to do to counter this step. We need clear steps, on how to douse the flames
    in Balochistan.

    Please think and identify steps to aliviate the alienation of Balochi people.
    Bribe them if necessary into happiness. To feel like they are part of
    Pakistan and stop reaching out to foreigners for intervention.

    Why can’t Pakistan Government provide what Rohrbacher thinks
    his government can provide to the Baloch people?

    Syed W. Hussain

  • Inam Khan  On February 20, 2012 at 1:59 am

    I cdn’t agree less with you.There is another angle to it.It is probably work of Mosaad;it is called diversionary tactic in intelligence work.However Mr.Rohrabacher has awakened us to something very important and we shd be grateful to him………………………………………………………..Inam Khan

  • Syed Wajahat  On February 20, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Inam Sahib
    We all know who is behind this, we all know the tactics and how they are played out. What we are missing is
    action that should result from this information. We have this instinct to find a escape goat. That in itself
    is a diversionary tactic on our own self.

    Let us put our minds together, think and find brilliant solutions in light of ignorance and unwillingness of
    the government to take some very significant steps.

    That is where the problem lies, Mossad and the likes wait and watch and strike when a hole
    begins to form. We need to fill that hole as quickly as possible. The world today is not
    friendly to Pakistan because a counter culture is forming, and Pakistan is finding itself pushed
    more and more into this counter culture of the planet. Which is a threat to the likes of Mossad.
    They will act to protect themselves.

    Pakistan is on its own, it has to take positive steps. Days of force and domination are long gone.
    Example in front of us, Libya, Algeria and now Syria. Pakistan must find innovative ways to
    resolve this issue. Sadly there is very little time. So the intelligentsia will have to take the matter
    in their own hands. Failure will result in a loss of hundreds of miles of coast line and invaluable wealth
    in natural resources.

    Syed W. Hussain

  • Arif Khan  On February 21, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Yasmeen did you know that Paks supported the Candidate against Pressler and Contributed $10 Million to his Campaign and he defeated Pressler and Became aPro Pak Senator in his Place , I am forgetting his Name from South Dakota Arif


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