Fact-finding: Jahangir calls for paradigm shift in Balochistan

By Mohammad Zafar

QUETTA: Amidst rampant allegations of extrajudicial killings and unabated asma-jahangirmilitant violence in Balochistan, famed rights campaigner Asma Jahangir has appealed to the security and intelligence agencies to work within the ambit of the Constitution.

“The government will have to avoid a pro-security policy, and formulate pro-peoples policies,” Jahangir, the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, told a news conference in Quetta on Tuesday.

It would be disastrous for democracy if the role of security agencies did not change in Balochistan, she added. Jahangir was flanked by columnist Kamran Shafi, Advocate Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani and Advocate Tahir Hussain.

Referring to the rising attacks on settlers, Jahangir said the killing of hairdressers, doctors and teachers was not the solution to the problems in Balochistan. Retaliating to an atrocity with atrocity would have disastrous results, she added.

“People have taken to the mountains due to the [security] operations and excesses in Balochistan,” said Jahangir, who was formerly the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). She was referring to Baloch separatists who have been fighting an insurgency since 2004. However, she appealed to the separatists and resistance leaders in the province to shun violence for a certain time period.

Security agencies have been blamed for rampant extrajudicial killings of workers of Baloch nationalist parties. But Jahangir said the ‘kill and dump policy’ would only stoke hatred towards the security agencies.

She said a high-level HRCP fact-finding mission was visiting Balochistan following the recent grisly attacks in Quetta and Ziarat to evaluate the gravity of the problem. The mission has met with government officials, families of the missing persons, students, doctors and nurses to hear their grievances.

On June 15, a suicide bomber detonated the explosives in a bus carrying students from Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University in Quetta, killing 14 female students. When the victims were shifted to the Bolan Medical Complex, over a dozen terrorists stormed the hospital. Four paramilitary troops and a senior administration official were killed in the subsequent firefight and suicide blasts. Earlier in the day militants destroyed the Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat in a bomb attack.

Jahangir recalled that an HRCP mission had visited Balochistan before the killing of Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti and had warned the then government of the disastrous consequences of a military operation in the province.

“Had the reservations of the civil society been heeded, the situation would not have been so worse now,” she added.

The HRCP mission, she added, would present detailed reports on the Quetta and Ziarat incidents, which would also incorporate police reforms, custom duties and other proposals.

Jahangir said the new government was a ray of hope for the people of Balochistan. However, she said the killing of four missing people on the day of the searing-in of the new provincial government was a sign that the particular policy had not changed.

She called for an end to the “double standards of the government and security forces” and recommended the provincial government recruit human rights advisers to address peoples’ grievances. (Courtesy: The Express Tribune)

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