Yousaf Ajab Baloch
Though there are multiple layers of violence and tension in Balochistan, ‘kill and dump’ of the Baloch ‘missing’ persons is one of the most vexing issues of the time. Recovery of bullet-riddled dead bodies with ruthless torture signs is an everyday occurrence. The judiciary, media, human rights organisations and Baloch nationalist parties have failed to persuade the state of Pakistan to take tangible measures against the perpetrators to recover enforced disappeared Baloch and bring their kill and dump policy to an end.
Recently, BBC reported rapid acceleration in kill and dump of the Baloch youth in Baloch-populated areas since the electoral process commenced for the general election 2013. According to the channel, since May 11, 2013, at least a dozen people have been the fresh victims of kill and dump. The Balochistan National Party-Mengal in its one of statements on June 2, 2013 mentions that during the interim government 279 Baloch have been disappeared and 50 dead bodies found. It should be noted that kill and dump of Baloch missing persons increased when the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government announced Aghaaz-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package (the Beginning of Rights of Balochistan) in November 2009 to deal with long-running Baloch political, economic, and human rights abuse grievances.
In Balochistan, the Baloch nationalist and human rights organisations use the term ‘missing persons’ to refer to those who are allegedly ‘disappeared’ by security agencies, in collaboration with the Frontier Corps, and later they are killed and their bodies dumped. However, the security forces deny the charges. The victims of this policy are Baloch political activists, nationalist leaders, journalists, human rights activists, lawyers, doctors and teachers.
The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VFBMP), a sister organisation of International Voice For Baloch Missing Persons (IVFBMP) claims that it has gathered complete information of more than 1,400 missing persons, whereas it has information of some 14,385 enforced disappeared Baloch.
According to reports of local media and human rights organisations, more than 600 bullet-riddled and decomposed dead bodies of Baloch missing persons have been found in the last three years, who were first abducted and later killed and dumped. However, the disappearance of Baloch youth has continued since 2000.
The VFBMP, for more than three years, has been striving for the safe recovery of the disappeared Baloch. But rather than being safely recovered, their bullet-riddled and tortured bodies are being found in deserted areas of Balochistan or Karachi. The organisation conducts hunger strikes in Balochistan, Sindh and Islamabad to pressurise human rights organisations, media and judiciary to play their role for the release of the abducted Baloch.
Amnesty International, the Asian Human Rights Commission and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in their reports, time and again, have reminded the government of Pakistan of its legal obligation under international law to respect the right to life, probe into the cases, ensure an independent and transparent investigation into the incidents to bring all those suspected of involvement in killing and keeping in detention the enforced disappeared Baloch to book.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has been reporting human rights violations in Balochistan, mainly the enforced disappearances and kill and dump, though Baloch nationalists and VFBMP differ on the number of Baloch missing persons and recovered dead bodies given in HRCP reports. In September 2012, the UN working group on enforced disappearances also pressed the Pakistani government and judiciary to do more to tackle the problem of thousands of people who have allegedly been detained by law enforcement and intelligence agencies and remain missing.
The silence of mainstream media has always been questionable over focusing on extreme human rights abuses in Balochistan. The media has always avoided highlighting enforced disappearances and recovery of bullet-riddled dead bodies. The previous government remained busy in its record corruption and did not bother to make any effort for their safe release. Plainly, they were allowed to indulge in corruption as much as they could but could not be bothered to catch the perpetrators of kill and dump.
An inquiry commission of a parliamentary committee headed by Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal was formed to investigate the issue of the Baloch, but this committee failed to bring relief to the families of the victims. Even last year Justice Iqbal was reported in the media as saying that foreign agencies with a well-organised network and modern equipment were involved in the issue of missing persons and people from Marri and Bugti tribes who had gone to Afghanistan of their own will could not be considered as missing persons. It should be noted that VFBMP boycotted the hearing of the inquiry commission saying that it was an unauthorised commission and just a waste of time. However, the Supreme Court in its interim order concerning the law and order situation in Balochistan issued in June 2012 rejected all statements of the chief of the inquiry commission, including the statements of the IG FC.
The report about missing persons prepared by the Inspector General of Punjab Police was also rejected by the court, saying how a person who had never visited Balochistan could compile a report on the province?
A number of cases of the Baloch missing persons have been heard and the Balochistan High Court (BHC) has hundreds of pending petitions filed by the families of the dead and missing Baloch, but it seems either unresponsive or utterly helpless in coaxing the spymasters to release the missing persons.
Now the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government seems to be serious to end human rights abuses in Balochistan. The PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his party say that if the issue of Baloch missing persons is solved, it will help to make way for talks with Baloch nationalists and militant groups. Dr Malik Baloch of the National Party, soon after being nominated as the chief minister of Balochistan by the PML-N, said recovery of missing persons was his top priority and an independent commission would be established to probe into the murder of the Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and the issue of missing political workers in the province.
If the Baloch missing persons are released it will be one of the great achievements of the National Party and PML-N. However, it is crystal clear that the politicians are not empowered in Pakistan and they are unable to make any decision on defence, economic and other subjects without the will of the establishment. Till now, the judiciary, despite being one of the supreme institutions in the country, could not recover the Baloch missing persons; the national and international human rights organisations remained hapless; the three-year long protest of VFBMP did not get success. The immeasurable sorrow and anguish of mothers, sisters and daughters of the missing persons could not soften the stone hearts of the perpetrators, then how will the PML-N and National Party be able to overcome this mindset? The people can just wait for a miracle or magic of democracy to see this human tragedy solved. (Courtesy: Daily Times)