US not to support independence for Balochistan

Islamabad: Amid Pakistani leadership`s angry criticism of a bill moved in Congress seeking the right to self-determination for people of Balochistan, the US today said it does not support independence for the province.

"The United States respects the territorial integrity of Pakistan. Members of Congress introduce legislation on numerous foreign affairs topics and these bills do not in any way imply US government endorsement of any particular policy," US embassy spokesman Robert Raines said in a statement.

The statement came a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the resolution moved in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher as an attack on Pakistan`s sovereignty.

"The Department of State does not typically comment on pending legislation, but it is not the policy of the Administration to support independence for Balochistan," the US embassy spokesman said.

Balochistan has witnessed a spike in violence by nationalist groups that are seeking greater autonomy and a say in the exploitation of the southwestern province`s abundant natural resources, including minerals and gas.

Baloch groups have alleged that hundreds of their activists have been arrested without due process and killed in the past two years.

Every week, bodies of the "missing persons" or men detained without charge are found across the province. Most of the bodies allegedly bear marks of torture and bullet wounds.