In August 2006 the Pakistani army targeted and killed a prominent Baloch political leader Akbar Bugti (age 79). His body has not been returned to his kinfolks. Even though the military buried a padlocked coffin in Dera Bugti town of Balochistan claiming that it was the body of Nawab Bugti, but his son Jamil Bugti continues to insist that his father’s body has not been handed over to the family. Many of his companions were either killed or captured alive but neither their bodies were returned nor the abducted men were ever seen again.
On 3 April 2009, Pakistani agencies abducted three more Baloch political leaders including the president of Baloch National Movement (BNM) Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, his deputy Lala Munir Baloch, and a senior leader of Baloch Republican Party (BRP) Mr Sher Mohammad Baloch from their lawyer’s office. A week later, on 8 April 2009, their mutilated bodies were found in a desolated area called Murgaab. These three Baloch leaders were abducted from their lawyers’ office in broad daylight (AHRC, 2009).
The lawyer, Mr Kachkol Ali Baloch, of these three Baloch leaders is the eye-witness of their abduction (Walsh, 2011). He tried to register the case against Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for the abduction from inside of his office of three of his aforementioned clients. There are also many other eyewitnesses who saw uniformed Pakistani officials storming into Mr Kachkol Ali’s office and then dragging the three men out. Not only a case was not registered against Pakistani security forces but the lawyer was also threatened with dire consequence and eventually forced to flee Balochistan. He now lives in Norway where he has sought political asylum.
Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), an organisation of the families of those Baloch who have been forcefully abducted and killed by Pakistan, says that over 14000 Baloch are currently under the custody of Pakistan. More than 600 of them have been killed under their custody. The VBMP further claims that over 1000 highly educated Baloch have been target killed by the proxy organisations of the state’s security agencies and the military.
This new policy of under custody killings has been described as the “Kill and Dump” policy of the state to counter Baloch freedom movement. Under this policy, the state functionaries arrest Baloch activist, keep them in illegal custody for months and in some cases for years. The Baloch political prisoners are brutally tortured and humiliated and later killed in very gruesome manners. The methods of torture include breaking bones, plucking out eyes, cutting pieces of flesh from the bodies of prisoners and rubbing salt and chilli on their wounds.
The international human rights groups have limited themselves to only expressing concerns over this very grave and deteriorating issue. The Baloch political parties and leaders want the UN related human rights groups to act practically and do more than just issue reports and statements. The UN and other Human Rights organisations, however, so far confined themselves to statements and expressing concerns.
In June 2012 the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay visited Pakistan and voiced concern over allegations of “very grave” rights violations and forced disappearances during Pakistani military operations against insurgents and militants. Talking about Balochistan situation she said: “Disappearances in Balochistan had become ‘a focus for national debate, international attention, and local despair’.” She had urged the government and judiciary to investigate and resolve the cases of enforced disappearances (Nation, 2012).
The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntarily Disappearances visited Pakistan and Balochistan between 10 – 20 September and held meeting with different organisations, political parties and family members of enforced disappeared persons. The WGEID said: “The figures communicated to us, range from less than a hundred to thousands. In Balochistan alone, some sources allege that more than 14,000 persons are still missing, while the provincial government only recognizes less than a hundred. To date, the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances still has more than 500 cases in its docket concerning the whole country. The number of officially registered allegations, although may not be reflective of the reality of the situation, is itself an indication of the existence of the phenomenon” (OHCHR, 2012).
Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch has also expressed grave concerns about the Pakistani security forces atrocities in Balochistan. He expressed his concern in these words: “Pakistan’s security forces are engaging in an abusive free-for-all in Balochistan as Baloch nationalists and suspected militants ‘disappear,’ and in many cases are executed. The national government has done little to end the carnage in Balochistan, calling into question its willingness or ability to control the military and intelligence agencies” (HRW, 2011).
The top judge of Pakistan’s highest court also accused the paramilitary (Frontier Corps) of involvement in enforced disappearances in Balochistan.
“Enough evidences are available for involvement of the Frontier Corps in picking up of every third missing person in Balochistan,” the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court passed these remarks while investigating cases of missing people in Balochistan, where the military has retorted to brutal killings, bombardment of villages, abductions, and other human rights violations in its bid to put down the Baloch peoples’ struggle for freedom (Balochwarna, 2012).
The military operations and arrests of Baloch political activists continue unabated across Balochistan. On 25 December 2012 the military conducted an operation in Mashky region of Balochistan and killed around 32 people including women and children. Pakistan Air Force used fighter jets to indiscriminately bomb the Baloch villages.
Dr Hakim Lehri, a senior Baloch political leader has described the Mashky operation and other human rights violations as Baloch genocide by Pakistan. In his article in Daily Times on 10 January, he wrote: “The preliminary information that has reached us shows that in the initial phase of this operation where aerial bombardment has also been utilized, 30 innocent citizens have been killed, including elderly men and women and even children. Those who were martyred include Mir Saho s/o Rehmat, Khuda Bukhsh s/o Noor Mohammad, Ali Jan s/o Mir Saho, Jamil Baloch, 7-year-old girl Khair Bibi, Lal Bibi w/o Dinar, Nazal d/o Dinar, Halima w/o Khuda Bukhsh, Ganj Khatoon w/o Ali Jan, Sud Ganj w/o Mir Saho, two year old Sakhi Daad, one year old Labo, 4 year old Bukhshi, Mah Naz (female), Gul Bibi (female), Sarah Ali Jan (female). Among the injured, those that have been identified are Sher Jan s/o Mir Saho, Karim Jan, Badal s/o Rehmat, Bukhshi Baloch, and two children” (Lehri, 2013).
Similarly, there have been reports of military operations in Dera Bugti and Kohistan Marri region in early 2013. The military has reportedly doubled the number of its troops already present in Balochistan.
Baloch people strongly believe that their universal rights including “right to life, liberty, and security” are violated on the daily basis by Pakistan. The international community and the international media, by and large, have remained silent on the plight of Baloch people. Pakistan has repeatedly been violating the UN and international laws in Balochistan. It is the moral responsibility of international community to intervene in Balochistan and secure the rights of Baloch nation in accordance to the UN conventions and international laws.
The Baloch are struggling to regain their independence. Baloch leaders and scholars believe that a free and democratic Balochistan can play a vital role in maintaining peace and security in the region. They are of the view that free and democratic Balochistan will be a natural ally of the international community and help them to eradicate religious terrorism that is largely organized, financed by the Islamic states of Pakistan and Iran.
The Baloch have also been constantly warning the Western democratic powers of Pakistan’s support of religious extremists groups and attempts to Talibanise the secular Baloch society. They say instead of supporting Pakistan the Western powers should support the Baloch people’s struggle for freedom, peace and democracy – in the same way that they are currently supporting the Arab democratic movements against dictatorial regimes (Shah, 2012).
C – State violence against women
Violence against female Baloch students and teachers is another worrying tactic of the spread of religious fundamentalists across Balochistan. Baloch women have received death threats from the Pakistani secret intelligence agencies and their agents across Balochistan. In their message the ISI supported fanatic elements have ordered the Baloch women to stay away from protests against Pakistan otherwise they would face grave consequences. These threats usually follow the intended vicious deeds.
In April 2011 acids were splashed on five Baloch girls in Noshki and Kalat. The victims included eight-year-old Saima, 14-year-old Shakila and 20-year-old Fatima who were attacked on their way to Killi Pandunari from Kalat town. Two weeks prior to this vicious attack acid were spilled on two girls in the town of Noshki in Balochistan. Baloch political and resistance organisations had strongly condemned those attacks and termed them as a conspiracy against Baloch freedom struggle (BBC, 2010).
On 22 May 2010, an elderly Baloch female human rights activist died when their car overturned while they were on their way from Quetta to Karachi to appear before the judicial commission about disappeared persons. Later it was found that the cause of the accident was due to a substance (powder) hidden in the tyre of their car. Bibi Mahtab Raisani campaigned for recovery and release of thousands of abducted Baloch activists including her son Mir Abdul Wadood Raisani (BalochHal, 2010).
On 10 September 2011 – Four female teachers of a private school were attacked with acid by unknown culprits in Killi Alam area of Saryab in Quetta. The female teachers were sitting in a van outside their school in Killi Alam on Saryab Road when two men on motorbikes hurled acid and fled from the scene. Three teachers, in early 20s, received burn injuries on their face, hands and legs while clothes of another teacher were burnt. The victims were identified as Robina Mushwani, 21, Fazila Bangulzai, 23, Sajida Bibi, 24 and 21-year-old Surriya Langhov. Sajida Bibi was discharged after being provided first aid. A proxy religious fundamentalist organisation of the ISI had accepted responsibility for the attacks in Kalat and Noshki (Guardian, 2011).
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Faiz M Baluch is editor of Balochwarna News. He is a Pro-freedom political and human rights activist affiliated with the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons.
The Afghan Tribune | Faiz M Baluch | Published: June 23, 2016, 11:44 PM