Clip_26Jura and Baluchistan House jointly sponsored an event at Capitol Hill, Washington DC on July 22, 2015, to highlight the issue of minority rights in Pakistan.

The event was hosted by US Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee of the US Congress.

Among the prominent speakers were Canadian MP and Jura Chairman Russ Hiebert, Italian Member of the European Parliament Elisabetta Gardini, Executive Director of Balochistan House, Tarek Fatah, and Baloch leader and activist Mehran Baluch.

In his remarks, Canadian MP Russ Hiebert highlighted the injustice and oppression faced by the people of Balochistan at the hands of their own Government. He also spoke at length on the methods used to torture and breakdown activists and leaders of the minority groups, in an effort to ensure their subjugation.

Italian MEP Elisabetta Gardini highlighted the extrajudicial disappearances and killings of Baloch people by the Pakistani authorities, and the growth of terror organizations within Pakistan. She added that international terrorists like Mullah Omar, Hafiz Saaed, and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi carry out their nefarious activities from Pakistani soil, and under State patronage.

Executive Director of Baluchistan House, Tarek Fatah highlighted the critical threat that Pakistan poses to the United States and Western nations, by providing a safe haven for terrorist organisations, and by allowing the Chinese military to gain control of the strategic Gwadar Port close to the essential Persian Gulf petroleum shipping lanes.

In his address, Baloch leader and activist Mehran Baluch stated that Pakistan is committing serious human rights violations in Balochistan, and through its policies, is changing the character of the secular Baloch into religious extremists. He added that the Pakistan State had unleashed its proxy groups like Lashkar e Jhangvi and Jamat ul Dawa, who are building Madarsas throughout Balochistan, preaching hatred, targeting women’s education, throwing acid on girls and killing religious minorities like Shias, Zikris, Ahmadis and Hazaras.

Congressman Chris Smith, in his capacity as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Sub-committee of the US Congress, announced the holding of a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee shortly, to hear expert witnesses who would testify on “Ethnic and Religious Minority Rights in Pakistan.