February 23, 2012

The Baloch doctor behind the US push

Wajid Ali Syed

Thursday, February 23, 2012

WASHINGTON: The principal organisation that helped “prepare and push” Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for last week’s controversial Congressional hearing on Balochistan, claims to be “a lobbying group with the goals to educate the American people and the world community about Balochistan.”

But the group called Baloch Society of North America is not officially registered as a lobbying group, according to public records. The head of the organisation, Dr Wahid Baloch, appeared confused when asked about the registration of his group, saying: “it’s a non-profit and lobbying group.” He later said: “we are in the process of filing for non-profit status.”

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is tasked with determining an organisation’s eligibility for non-profit status. Talking to the News, Dr. Wahid Baloch said that he was in constant contact with Mir Suleman Daud Khan, the 35th leader of the defunct Kalat Royal Family, who provides political, ideological as well as financial support.

Dr. Baloch said that with the participation of other Baloch organisations working in the United States, BSoNA helped prepare Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for last week’s Congressional hearing on Balochistan. “Khan Daud did meet with Congressman Rohrabacher in Germany, and we helped prepare questions and provided background information on Balochistan via emails.”

He added that other active groups, once divided on different issues, came together to assist Congressional staff in charting out the agenda.

The group was established in 2005 with seven members but has grown to almost hundred, claims Dr Wahid. “The members include Baloch nationals as well as Americans.” The organisation has also set up an office in Washington DC on K street, which was used to raise funds for different members of the Congress. Dr. Wahid Baloch, who apparently is also known as Dostin W Baloch, filed at least $4,500 for four Democrat (and not Republican) candidates. During the 2010 election cycle, Dr. Wahid Baloch donated 1,000 dollars twice to Congressman Brad Sherman (California) campaign. From his Florida address, Dr Baloch donated $500 to ‘Friends of Shumer’ referring to Senator Chuck Shumer (NY).

From the same Florida address under the name Dostin Baloch, $1,000 was donated to Russ Feingold Senate Committee and another $1000 to ‘Committee to Elect Gary Ackerman’, a Congressman from New York. So far in the current election cycle, Wahid Baloch of the K street address, again donated $250 to ‘Sherman for Congress’. Congressman Brad Sherman was on the panel that conducted the Congressional hearing, and has been a strong advocate for U.S. outreach to Sindhi and Baloch people. Interestingly, Dostin W Baloch resides in Jacksonville, Florida as well and owns property of worth $129,544 at Indies Drive and $106,252 at Kusaie Drive respectively.

BSoNA, as the group is known, mentioned on its website that in 2006 it launched the government of Balochistan in exile. Dr. Baloch said the conference on Balochistan was postponed due to recent developments. The new date for the conference has not been announced. The conference agenda, Dr. Baloch said, would be to unite all Baloch groups and bring them together on one platform. “The cause initially was to chart out a draft of future independent Balochistan,” he said adding: “we are now waiting to see how the situation evolves.”

He hoped that the state of Pakistan would understand and redress Baloch concerns. Recently a picture of Dr. Wahid Baloch with Vice President Joe Biden at a fundraising event circulated on the Internet. Another questionable organisation called American Friends of Balochistan, headed by Ahmer Mustikhan, is practically a one-man show. He criticised C. Christine Fair, one of last week’s hearing witnesses, on her characterisation of Balochistan as part of Pakistan.

A third but prominent group is the newly established “Balochistan National Party, U.S. Chapter,” founded by individuals who were once politically active in Balochistan. Dr. Tara Chand, a former provincial minister of Balochistan, is running the group with Waheed Baloch, former speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, and Akram Baloch, who contested general elections from Kharan but lost. All three moved to the United States a few years ago.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's interesting. I wonder why he would give to Brad Sherman's campaign not once but twice.