See more » https://twitter.com/BradSherman/status/539915149235458048
See more » https://twitter.com/BradSherman/status/539915149235458048
Congressman Brad Sherman discusses options for dealing with ISIS with host Jose Diaz-Balart on MSNBC
Sherman and Colleagues Express Deep Concern to Prime Minister Sharif over Human Rights Violations against Sindhis in Pakistan
Sherman, Bentivolio, Schiff, Gabbard, and Petri Urge Prime Minister Sharif to Take Action
Washington, DC – Congressman Brad Sherman, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, was joined by four Members of Congress – Kerry Bentivolio, Adam Schiff, Tulsi Gabbard, and Tom Petri – in sending a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to express deep concern over human rights violations in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
Sindhi activists have been regularly persecuted and detained, and even violently targeted through enforced disappearances and brutal murders. Religious minorities in Pakistan, including Hindu Sindhis, have faced discrimination and attacks by extremists on their houses of worship.
The letter urges the Prime Minister to “address the situation accordingly by strongly countering these actions and policies throughout the Pakistani government.”
“We are urging Prime Minister Sharif to do everything in his power to protect the Sindh community, as well as religious minorities, from attacks,” said Congressman Sherman. “The Sindhi community includes tens of millions of people in Pakistan who are striving to preserve their language and culture, but Sindhi activists are subject to enforced disappearances and sometimes targeted killings.”
“Violence against minorities everywhere is an unacceptable violation of human rights,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “ In Pakistan, we’ve heard reports of torture, executions and disappearances of peaceful and politically active Sindhis and Balochs who are Hindu, Christian, Shi’a and other religious minorities. These religiously and politically motivated attacks are abhorrent, and I strongly urge Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take action to address these troubling offenses. The Government of Pakistan must stand up for human rights, and against violent radicals who seek to persecute and kill those with differing beliefs.”
Sindhis appreciate the efforts of Congressman Brad Sherman for Sindh and Sindhis. He raised issues about Sindhi Hindus, Education and recent Thar famine in Sindh during the foreign affairs Committee Hearing. Congressman Brad Sherman is the founder of Congressional Sindh Caucus.
Washington, D.C. – At a meeting between the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) raised the prospect of a Voice of America broadcast into Pakistan in the Sindhi language.
In response to Sherman’s question, Prime Minister Sharif said, “I would welcome it.” The Prime Minister went on to list efforts of his own government to communicate in the Sindhi language.
Sherman, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is the chair of the Congressional Sindh Caucus.
“The response from the Sindhi community in Pakistan to U.S. public diplomacy in their language has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Sherman. “The Prime Minister of Pakistan welcomes this outreach.”
In a Foreign Affairs Committee markup on July 21, 2011, Sherman offered an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The amendment required that, of the funds made available to Voice of America, $1.5 million be used only for Sindhi language programming. The Committee considered and unanimously approved Sherman’s amendment. However, that bill never became law.
Courtesy: via Sapac Sindh + Sindhi e-groups/ e-lists, October 25, 2013
Aid cut to Pakistan won’t be in US interest: Kerry
During the hearing Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Secretary of State for broadcasting the service of the Voice of America in Sindhi language.
“There’s probably no more important country than Pakistan and nothing more important than our public outreach to the Pakistani people, yet we’re broadcasting only in Urdu. This committee voted overwhelmingly that we should spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting in the Sindhi language,” he said.
Washington: Hon. Congressman Brad Sherman continues to advocate on behalf of Sindhis across the world. At House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing, Congressman Sherman spoke with Secretary John Kerry about the need for a Sindhi Voice of America program. You can hear his remarks here starting at the 0:26 mark. SAPAC is immensely grateful for Congressman Sherman’s dedication to the Sindhi people.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 18, 2013.
Hello, I’m Brad Sherman from California’s best named city, Sherman Oaks. It’s a pleasure to be with you. In 1951, my grandfather worked for the United Nations International Labor Commission. He was a specialist in technical education and he arrived in Sindh. And he said the same words I’m going to say to you here tonight, Sindhee Marhun Khay Salahm Ayn Bhaleekahr. I want to thank my friend Sufi Munawar for inviting me here, but also for doing so much in such a short time to bring the issues of Sindh and the Sindhi people to the attention of the United States Congress. These are issues that some of you have followed for decades, but didn’t have traction in Congress. Sufi came, we now have a Sindhi Caucus. We now have a Congresswoman in the Sindhi Caucus. And you will see Congress focusing on these issues. With me here is my foreign policy advisor and chief of staff, Don McDonald. My California chief of staff, Matt Debaumay. And my expert on the Middle East, Siamak Kordestani.
A handful of US congressmen support creating an independent Balochistan, carved out of mostly Pakistani land.
By: Eddie Walsh
Some US congressmen support Baloch nationalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan
Washington, DC – Over the last few months, a small faction of congressmen, minority Afghan groups, Baloch nationalists, and their supporters have laid out the framework for an alternative US policy approach for Southwest Asia.
This alternative policy centres on backing remnants of the Northern Alliance and Baloch insurgents, who seek to carve out semi-autonomous territories or independent states from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
While supporters of this new approach are motivated by a variety of interests, they appear unified in their rejection of what they see as three cornerstones of the Obama administration’s current regional policy approach: 1) Normalising relations with Pakistan’s government and military; 2) Incorporating the Taliban into the current Afghan political system; 3) Overly accommodating an emerging Iran.
In one broad stroke, this new approach would attempt to advance US national interests by redrawing the political borders of Southwest Asia – contrary to the the sovereignty and territorial integrity of three existing states.
While its advocates clearly do not yet have broad support for their initiative, the campaign for an alternative Southwest Asian policy approach is maturing and garnering increased attention in Congress and beyond, especially as a result of three recent high-profile events: a Balochistan National Front strategy session in Berlin, a US congressional hearing on Balochistan, and the introduction of a Baloch self-determination bill before the US Congress.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, it’s nevertheless critical to understand how this alternative policy approach framework has evolved over the past few months.
The ‘Berlin Mandate’ as a loose framework
Credit must be given where credit is due. Indeed, the work, statements and support of US Congressman for the Nation of Sindh is certainly creditable, highly commendable, truly admirable and most humbly appreciable.
The gregarious and generous sons and daughters of Motherland, Sindh, do whole-heartedly appreciate, applaud and laud the worthy efforts of the Congressman towards highlighting the Sindhi Nation.
None in the higher echelons of US and even in other Western States – their Lawmakers, People and Government including – have had a heart, decency and courage to voice their concerns for the over fifty million people of Sindh and their slave-like treatment, genocide and ethnic cleansing in this country. Thus, the sincere and noble endeavours at voicing Sindh’s concern by Congressman Brad Sherman are a breath of fresh air in the desert of gloom and doom.
We also express our appreciation and admiration for SAPAC and its indomitable leadership for their selfless and sincere, capable and competent advocacy for Sindhi Nation.
Note- Writer is an Educationist, Human Rights Activist, Writer, Researcher, Inter-Faith Dialogue Leader.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, August 4, 2012.
Washington, D.C: [press release] The Sindhi American Political Action Committee applauds the efforts of Honorable Congressman Brad Sherman for Sindh and Sindhis. The Hearing at Capitol Hill on ” The State Department’s center for strategies counter terrorism communications: Mission, operations and Impact” on August 2nd, 2012.
“The US must reach out to Sindh, where the Sindhi language is spoken by more people than Urdu,” Sherman said in his remarks at the hearing of the terrorism, non-proliferation, and trade subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Congressman Brad Sherman’s continuous efforts and support for Sindhis and Sindh are unforgettable. He is the founder and Co-Chairman of Congressional Sindh Caucus. He initiated the efforts for VOA program in Sindhi language.
He will be keynote speaker and special guest at SAPAC’s upcoming 3rd Annual Celebration on September 12th, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Sindhi population under attack by Pak govt bodies: US lawmakers
Washington: With the popularity of the United States inside Pakistan at an all-time low, an influential American lawmaker has asked the State Department to make efforts to reach out directly to the country’s population, in particular the Sindhis.
“Pakistan is a nuclear-armed Islamic state on the front line of several conflicts with so many extremist groups.
Pakistan is a pressing international problem for us. My hope is that you are reaching out to the Pakistani people not just in Urdu, which is the politically correct language that the government and the ISI in Pakistan would have you use, but also in the other languages, particularly Sindhi,” Congressman Brad Sherman, said during a Congressional hearing Thursday.
Sherman alleged that the people of Sindhi, predominantly those who speak Sindhi language, have been under attack by governmental bodies.
“That’s why the government of Pakistan would just as soon you not use that language. They’re so helpful in so many ways that perhaps you might want to ignore their advice,” he said.
“The US must reach out to Sindh, where the Sindhi language is spoken by more people than Urdu,” Sherman said in his remarks at the hearing of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Courtesy: The Indian Express
A far-reaching legislation has been introduced in the US Congress that would deduct $50 million from the aid to Islamabad for every American killed by terrorists operating from the safe havens in Pakistan with the ”support” of ISI.
“Pakistan has for decades leveraged radical terrorist groups to carry out attacks in India and Afghanistan,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said introducing the ‘Pakistan Terrorism Accountability Act of 2012′.
Hon. Congressman Brad Sherman discuss with USAID Administer R. Shah. “On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, at a hearing on the foreign aid budget, Congressman Brad Sherman discusses U.S. support for the Sindh.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, March 20, 2012.
By Chidanand Rajghatta
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s state-endorsed discrimination, and in some cases extermination, of its minorities has finally caught the eye of Washington lawmakers. Coming on the heels of support in Congress for a Baloch homeland in the face of Islamabad’s depredations in the region, a US Congressman has zeroed in on the abduction and forced religious conversion of Hindus in the country highlighted by the case of Rinkel Kumari.
In a sharply-worded letter to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, Congressman Brad Sherman urged him to take action to ensure the return of Rinkel Kumari to her family, pursuant to reports that she had been abducted with the help of a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker. In a case that has been widely reported in the liberal Pakistani media, Rinkel, who was abducted on February 24, was forced to marry one Naveed Shah and convert to Islam.
She was subsequently produced before a civil judge twice, but she was reportedly coerced into claiming that she had converted on her own will, even as her family was denied access to her in kangaroo court proceedings that revealed in video clips to be led by a frenzied mob of zealots, including armed followers of the Pakistani lawmaker. According to Pakistani civil liberties activists in Washington DC, Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed.
”Rinkel Kumari’s case is just one case of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan,” Congressman Sherman said in the letter to Zardari, citing the Asian Human Rights commission figure of 20-25 kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh every month. ”I urge you to take all necessary steps to bring an end to this practice and other harassment of Hindus in Pakistan.”
The Rinkel Kumari case was brought to the attention of US lawmakers not by Hindu activists but by the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC), a lobby group that, like the Baloch groups, is increasingly asserting the secular and syncretic identity of Pakistan’s Sindhi community in the face of growing Islamization in the country. Sapac activists are telling US lawmakers that state sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant and is causing Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan in droves.
Hindus, who constituted more than 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population soon after Partition, have now dwindled to less than two per cent, mostly in some districts of Sindh. There have been several reports in recent months of Hindu families seeking to migrate to India in the face of growing radical Islamization of Pakistan, including abduction and forcible conversions, but it is the first time that Washington, which literally slept over Pakistan’s genocide of Bengalis in 1970-71, is paying attention to the issue.
US interest in the Rinkel Kumari case comes close on the heels of sudden support in Congress for Baloch self-determination, an effort led by California lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher. That effort has rattled Islamabad to the extent that it has told American interlocutors that Pakistan-US ties will be deeply affected if Washington interfered in Balochistan, even though the Obama administration has clarified that support for an independent Balochistan is confined to the Hill, where lawmakers are free to introduce any legislation they deem appropriate. That in turn resulted in Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S.,, writing to House Speaker John Boehner, expressing deep concern over Congressional action on Balochistan.
Attitudes are hardening in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province against the government, but the state is now belatedly reaching out to the Baloch separatists. Writer Ahmed Rashid considers whether after years of civil war, talks could end the bloodshed.
It took an obscure United States congressman holding a controversial hearing in Washington on the civil war in Balochistan to awaken the conscience of the Pakistani government, military and public.
For years the civil war in Balochistan has either been forgotten by most Pakistanis or depicted as the forces of law and order battling Baloch tribesmen, who are described as “Indian agents”.
Just a few weeks ago, Interior Minister Rehman Malik even hinted that Israel and the US were supporting the Baloch separatists, while the army had totally ”Indianised” the Baloch problem.
On 23 February, Mr Malik did an about-face, saying that the government was withdrawing all cases against Baloch leaders living in exile and asking them to return home for talks. ”I will receive them in person,” he told journalists.
Don’t expect Baloch leaders to turn the other cheek at Mr Malik’s sudden shift – the Baloch have seen too many such U-turns before.
Brahamdagh Bugti, head of the separatist Baloch Republican Party and living in exile in Geneva, remains sceptical.
His grandfather Sardar Akbar Bugti, the head of the Bugti tribe, was killed in 2006 on the orders of former President Pervez Musharraf in a massive aerial bombardment, while his sister Zamur Domki and her 12-year old daughter were gunned down in Karachi in broad daylight just in late January – allegedly by government agents.
He told journalists last week: ”I have seen this all before… I am not an optimist.” Nevertheless, for the first time in years his face appeared on every Pakistani TV channel as he and other Baloch leaders gave interviews.
…. Dana Rohrabacher’s resolution in the US Congress states that the Baloch people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country”. Expectedly, this unleashed a torrent of anger in Pakistan’s government and media which overwhelmingly saw this as a conspiracy to break up the country. Pakistan-US relations have descended another notch; attempts by the US State Department, as well as the currently visiting group of Congressmen, to distance themselves from the resolution have not worked. …
…. The official Pakistani response to Rohrabacher is still more flawed. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar termed the tabling of his bill “a violation of UN charter” and of Pakistan’s sovereignty. But this line of defence could forfeit Pakistan’s moral right to criticise other states, Syria and India included.
Consider the fact that on February 17 Pakistan voted for an Arab League-sponsored resolution in the UN General Assembly which calls upon Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down. This surely constitutes interference in the internal matter of a sovereign country. But Pakistan did well. In a civilised world national sovereignty must come second, and human rights first.
Pakistan has also long criticised India — and justly so — for its human rights abuses. But more people are dying in Balochistan today than in Kashmir. For all their brutality against stone-throwing Kashmiri boys, the Indians have not yet used helicopter gunships and fighter jets against Kashmiris. Pakistan, on the other hand, uses airpower as a matter of course in Balochistan and Fata. ….
To read complete article » The Express Tribune
After US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s sudden attention to Balochistan, the Pakistani media went bonkers to protect the proverbial ‘sovereignty’ of our country — a cause championed by the security establishment and most of its mouthpieces in the media as well as political circles and civil society. Emerging from the fathoms of near oblivion to almost a dozen Op-Eds in the mainstream press daily, Balochistan is now the darling of the prime time TV cupola as well.
If the anchors and columnists want to sound more profound, and if they run out of words to express the imperiousness of the US Congress for interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters, they would endlessly repeat almost clichéd references to 1971 with emphasis on giving ‘due importance to the Baloch problem’. The umpteen ‘political analysts’ and ‘Balochistan experts’ religiously recount the current government’s failure to address the issue despite the latter’s trumpeted mantra of ‘democracy, the greatest revenge’. Such talk would be garnished with admonishing the ‘irresponsibility’ of the Baloch nationalists in attacking innocent citizens of ethnicities other than the Baloch.
What goes completely missing from this narrative is the origins of the conflict, the response of the state to the centrifugal nature of Baloch nationalism and the ever deteriorating civil-military relations in Balochistan, which now seem to have reached the point of no return. The way Balochistan was made to accede to Pakistan goes missing from the textbooks alongside any reference to the military operations carried out in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-68, 1973-77 and the current surge starting from 2002 to date. The result is a general apathy towards Balochistan in the rest of the country with almost no understanding of the surges in historically seeded ethno-nationalism in Balochistan, described as ‘Baloch insurgencies’ in the mainstream media. The same media gives prime space to opinion makers who describe Taliban insurgents as ‘freedom fighters’. No wonder one finds so many people in upper Punjab and Islamabad who take Baloch nationalists as ‘traitors’, while the Taliban militants as flag bearers of Muslim nationalism. ….
Read more » Daily Times
Press release: Baloch Human Rights Council (UK), Baloch Raaji Zrombesh, World Sindhi Congress and Balochistan Liberation Organistaion are holding a Baloch Solidarity protest rally infront of the USA embassy in London UK.
All Baloch , Sindhis and other democratic and peace loving people are requested to join in the rally.
· To show your solidarity with the genuine struggle of Baloch and Sindhi people for their sovereignty and human rights.
· To say thanks to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and USA government for their support of Human rights and sovereignty of Baloch Nation.
· To protest against crimes against humanity committed by Pakistani security establishment against Baloch and Sindhi people.
· To condemn the disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killing of Baloch and Sindhi people.
· To request the international community, the USA, the UK that the deep state committing crimes against Baloch and Sindhi people.
Baloch Human Rights Council (UK)
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca) on Balochistan and Dr. Shakeel Afridi with VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem –
The U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca), who introduced a resolution on Balochistan along with two bills honoring the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA catch Bin Laden, sat down with the Voice of America’s Ayesha Tanzeem to discuss some of these issues.
According to the resolution, the Baloch people have the right to self-determination. Pakistan has reacted strongly to this resolution calling it a violation of international laws and interference in its internal affairs.
The U.S. State Department has tried to distance itself from Congressman Rohrabacher’s opinions and efforts and has insisted that it does not reflect official US policy. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland insists that the US does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Pakistan.
The two bills introduced on the 17th of Feb, 2012 call for giving US citizenship to Dr. Shakeel Afridi as well as honoring him with the highest civilian honor, a Congressional Gold Medal. Dr. Afridi is under arrest in Pakistan after secretly helping the CIA to collect DNA evidence of Bin Laden’s presence in the compound. The Abbottabad commission has recommended that he be tried for treason for helping a foreign government’s secret agency.
Courtesy: Voice of America
On Nov 16, 2011 and Jan 13 this year respectively, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner, and chief spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed U.S. concern about the human rights situation in Balochistan. On Feb. 8 Congressman Brad Sherman spoke at a subcommittee of Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives of the marginalization of the Baloch and Sindhi (speaking people) and the disappearances, torture and killing of their activists by Pakistan’s security forces.
Sherman went to say that the Baloch and Sindhis, being secular and moderate-minded, shared American values and that the US should reach out to them. Feb 18 saw the introduction of a resolution in the House stating that the people of Balochistan, currently divided between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have the right to self-determination and their own sovereign country and should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.
A fuller argument openly calling for support of the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan because the latter was acting against American and western interests, appeared in the Globe and Mail – a key mouthpiece of big capital and imperialism in Canada – in an op-ed piece on Dec 21, 2011, titled ‘Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map’ by Chris Mason, a retired US diplomat now at the Center for Advanced Defence Studies in Washington.
Without a doubt the Sindhi people have suffered grievous injustices in Pakistan. Many times greater has been the pain inflicted by the state on Balochistan which, in addition to severe cultural, economic and political deprivation, has been on the receiving end of almost half-a-dozen prolonged and brutal military attacks which began in 1948 and continue to this day. Frustrated and angry beyond measure – and justifiably so – at their appalling treatment by the Pakistani state, the above developments in the U.S. have been widely welcomed by the Baloch.
“The hearing showed that there will be no peace in the region without a referendum of self-determination. That cannot be ignored.”
As the sole witness of Baloch ethnicity to speak at the recent Balochistan hearing before the United States Congress, M. Hossein Bor disagrees with comments that he was not relevant to the proceedings.
Not only was he the only witness able to speak as a Baloch, he points out that he also was the only one with deep subject matter expertise in foreign trade and investment in Southwest Asia. From this perspective, he hoped his testimony would have shed light on the unrealised strategic and economic opportunities that an independent Balochistan would provide to Americans, including the ability to contain a rising China and an emerging Iran, prevent an adversarial Pakistan from achieving strategic depth in Afghanistan, and ensure Baloch-American economic prosperity through new energy and mineral resource agreements. However, with little time to prepare for the hearing and only five minutes of allotted time to provide oral testimony, many of these points were not expressed. Bor therefore looks to this post-hearing assessment as a mechanism to share publicly for the first time what he has shared privately with Baloch nationalists and their supporters. As one of the five witnesses called before Congress, it is assured that these remarks will be closely watched by all side to the Baloch debate.
Great Game 2.0
To understand Balochistan, Bor believes that one cannot look at Pakistan’s largest province through the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) box. In retrospect, this is perhaps one of the strongest contributions that he could have made at the hearing.
A US resolution for independent Balochistan
Baloch are divided between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan: Rohrabacher
They had the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country, says resolution
A US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has introduced in his country’s Congress a resolution seeking the right of self-determination for Baloch in Pakistan.
The resolution called as the House Concurrent Resolution in the US House of Representatives and co-sponsored by Representatives Louie Gohmert and Steve King calls for sovereign country for the people of Balochistan.
A week ago, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher had also chaired a Congressional committee’s hearing on Balochistan. His move is likely to affect Pakistan’s relations with the US. Both the countries are already sharing difficult relationship after the NATO attack on Pakistani post. Pakistan in reaction had suspended NATO supplies to Afghanistan.
The resolution says hat revolts in 1958, 1973 and 2005 indicate continued popular discontent against rule by Islamabad, and the plunder of its vast natural wealth while Baluchistan remains the poorest province in Pakistan.
The resolution further adds there is also an insurgency in Sistan-Balochistan, which is being repressed by Iran. The people of Balochistan, it said were divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan and they had the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status among the community of nations, living in peace and harmony, without external coercion.
Media reports said Rohrabacher, who is also the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations also issued a statement from his office which said, “The Baluchi, like other nations of people, have an innate right to self-determination. The political and ethnic discrimination they suffer is tragic and made more so because America is financing and selling arms to their oppressors in Islamabad.”
The press release further added that Balochistan is “rich in natural resources but has been subjugated and exploited by Punjabi and Pashtun elites in Islamabad, leaving Baluchistan the country’s poorest province.”
WASHINGTON: TP MD, Feb 17, 2012
Courtesy » The Point – Voice of Sindh & Balochistan
A hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on February 8, 2012, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) spoke on U.S.-Pakistan relations and the importance of U.S. outreach to the Sindhi and Baluch people.
By Malik Siraj Akbar
The United States (US) Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to convene a congressional hearing on Wednesday (February 8), for an exclusive discussion on Balochistan.
The extraordinary event has generated great interest among followers of Pakistan-US relations, as the allies’ mutual relationship seems to be deteriorating. The powerful House of Representatives committee oversees America’s foreign assistance programs and experts believe it can recommend halting US assistance to Pakistan over human rights violation in Balochistan.
Calls for ‘independence’
While Islamabad has strictly treated Balochistan as an internal matter, the debate on such a divisive topic by the powerful committee has highlighted the level of American interest in Balochistan and its support, if any, for the nationalist movement. On its part, Pakistan has kept Washington at arm’s length on the Balochistan issue, by refusing to grant it permission to open a consulate in Quetta.
– Four members of Congress to speak at SAPAC’s Second Anniversary Banquet Dinner
Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2011 – Congressman Brad Sherman and Congressman Dan Burton, co-chairs of the Congressional Sindh Caucus, Congressman Adam Schiff, first member of the Congressional Sindh Caucus, and Senator Robert Menendez will be special guest speakers at the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) Second Anniversary Banquet Dinner, dedicated to victims of the 2011 floods in Sindh, at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington D.C. at 7:00 P.M. on October 13, 2011. Other special guest speakers will include Dr. Gul Agha, professor at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and Dr. Harold Gould, visiting scholar at the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Virginia.
SAPAC’s Second Anniversary Banquet Dinner will bring Sindhi Americans throughout the nation together to discuss topics relating to Sindhi Americans and issues within the Sindh region. Topics will include the state of U.S. relations with Pakistan, countering militancy through indigenous Sufi beliefs, Sindhi language programming on the Voice of America, Advancement of Women’s health and education in Sindh, Protecting religious minorities from state persecution and terrorism, recent flooding in Sindh, and the history, journey and present status of African Sindhis.
Dinner for the event is $75 per guest with all proceeds going directly to SAPAC and its continuing efforts on behalf of advancing the cause of Sindhis. If interested in attending, please RSVP by September 19th to Mr. Munawar Laghari, SAPAC Executive Director, by phone at (202) 496-5300 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Federal Law requires that all contributions to SAPAC must be from United States citizens or permanent residents only. Contributions from Federal Employees are strictly prohibited. We cannot accept corporate or business checks.
In a House Foreign Affairs Committee markup on July 21, 2011, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) offered an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The amendment required that, of the funds made available to Voice of America, $1.5 million be used only for Sindhi language programming.
– Foreign Affairs Committee – Unofficial Transcript
July 21st, 2011
Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen: Mr. Sherman hold on a second before we recognize you. I think we may have to tinker with your amendment a little bit.
Congressman Sherman: I would ask unanimous consent to amend my amendment to read as follows and this is inspired by Mr. Rohrabacher. Of the funds authorized to be appropriated to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, one and a half million, big discount here, is authorized to be appropriated only for Sindhi language communication. Such funds may not be used for any other purpose. Do I have unanimous consent?
Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen: Without objection the amendment has been amended and approved. So we are on the Mr. Sherman amendment as amended. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes to explain his amendment.
Congressman Sherman: For many years the Pakistani government has focused Pakistan on just using one language, …, when in fact Sindhi is spoken by tens of millions of people. We need to reach out to the people of the Sindh province and others who speak the Sindhi language. For the most part these are people who profess a moderate form of Islam and yet they are not hearing from us in their native language. There is probably no country more important to us in our efforts against terrorism and extremism than is Pakistan. We cannot just reach the Pakistani people in the Urdu language. We cannot ignore the southern third of the country. I have received reports from Voice of America that they could begin communicating in the Sindh language if they were to devote one and half million dollars to this. Now I would think that in their three quarters of a billion dollar budget, that they could find the funds necessary to do what might be the most important part of our Voice of America efforts and that is to reach out to the people of Pakistan.
I would also comment that if I can secure support for this amendment it will not only be the last amendment I offer today but this will be the last speech I give today in this room.
There are many things the Voice of America does but the fact that the country that is probably most important to us from a national security perspective at this time, we are broadcasting only in one language and we are ignoring the southern third of the country. I think a million and half dollars a year to correct that is a good decision for this committee and this congress to make and with that I yield back.
Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen: Thank you Mr. Sherman. Based on the fact that you are a level, intelligent person who is trustworthy as a boy scout it seems like a very good amendment and I do not see any opposition from our side and we are prepared to accept the amendment. So with that, hearing no further request for recognition, the question occurs on the Sherman amendment. All those in favor say, “Aye”, all opposed, “No”. In the opinion of the chair the Ayes have it and the amendment is agreed to.
Source: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, July 22, 2011. → YouTube
by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia
…. I feel proud that the Sindhis have chosen non-violent and democratic methods to promote their rights instead of going on the path of armed struggle like our Baloch brothers and sisters. …
…. Congressman Brad Sherman organized the first ever congressional hearing on the enormous loss suffered by Sindhis in recent floods and wrote formal letters to US Aid officials and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He urged them to ensure that the US aid also reached the flood victims in Sindh. At the urging of a Sindhi-American supporter, he confronted the Pakistani Ambassador in USA about why so few native Sindhis were employed at the Pakistani Embassy in the USA. He publicly acknowledged that he never received a satisfactory answer to this question from Pakistani ambassador.
Less than two weeks ago, Congressman Dan Burton wrote to the President of Pakistan expressing concern about the enforced disappearances and other forms of unlawful detention focusing on the disappearance of Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto. The letter says “… I and my congressional colleagues are hearing more and more stories, particular centering on alleged human rights violations against Baloch and Sindh ethnic peoples, including numerous women and children.” …..