In The News
Kimberly Willingham (202) 225-3035
February 22, 2012 The Longview News Journal, By Glenn Evans
Independence for an obscure province in Pakistan would be one of the best things America could leave behind when it withdraws troops next year, the congressman from Northeast Texas said Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, says an independent Balochistan would be the “enemy of our enemies,” on a piece of ground through which arms now flow to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“These people are Muslims, but they are friends. They want to be America’s friends,” Gohmert said of the Baloch people of western Pakistan. “Before 1948, they were not part of Pakistan. (Baloch annexation) gave Pakistan some mineral-rich areas as well, and at the same time the Pakistani government has been abusive of the Baloch people.”
It also wouldn’t hurt America’s strategic interests in the region to have a grateful friend on Iran’s eastern border, he added.
Gohmert said he is not advocating a new war front. He said he merely wants discussions to begin about helping the province regain its self-determination.
“I’m for pulling out (of Afghanistan),” he added. “I just want to empower the enemy of the Taliban before we go. ... I want to help people who want to do right and want to be our friends and help us. And I don’t want to help those that want to hurt us — it’s just that simple.”
Gohmert is a co-signer on a House Resolution in support of self-determination for the province on Pakistan’s border with Iran. The resolution’s author, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is a Gohmert ally along with fellow co-sponsor, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
The trio met in January with Baloch leaders in Germany, Gohmert said.
“They were well aware of the constant flow of the supplies and (improvised explosive devices) and arms coming to the Taliban through the Baloch area,” he said.
The three met separately with leaders of Afghanistan’s so-called Northern Alliance, the tribal chiefs who helped American forces sweep the Taliban from Afghan power in the initial part of the war immediately following 9/11.
Those leaders reported to the congressional delegation the Taliban is putting out word it will fully retake the country when Americans leave at the end of 2013. They said the Taliban demanded any groups “that have not been faithful” to them ask their forgiveness and beg for safety.
Gohmert also said the Baloch leaders disputed official American claims the Taliban is weakening in Afghanistan. As evidence, he pointed to the flow of weapons feeding the enemy through the Baloch province in Pakistan.
“So, let’s empower the enemy of our enemy,” Gohmert said the three lawmakers concluded. “That’s (the enemy) of the Northern Alliance and of the Taliban across the border in Balochistan. They are our friends. They want to be our friends.”
Gohmert said America first armed the Northern Alliance, then took the weapons away and turned support toward the centralized government that forced its will on the alliance tribes.
“There is one president (of Afghanistan) — he appoints the governors, he appoints the mayors, he appoints the police,” Gohmert said. “And the Northern Alliance leaders said, like two things to me: ‘You’re going to desert us, and the Taliban is going to be in charge and kill us. So, give us our arms back and let us elect our own leaders.’ ”
Rohrabacher produced his resolution supporting Baloch independence following a foreign relations subcommittee hearing two weeks ago regarding the province. Leaders of Baloch attended, he said.
“Man, it was packed,” Gohmert said, adding the provincial leaders praised his efforts. “They keep calling me, ‘The Hero of Baloch.’ I’m just an East Texas guy trying to think about the most effective way to not empower your enemy when you leave. They’d be great allies to have. They love America.”