The saga of the mysterious mass graves discovered in Balochistan’s Khuzdar district sometime ago continues to be a chilling reminder of the impunity with which the forces of darkness in that province operate. As it is, for most Pakistanis, the country’s largest province is a remote world from where few reports trickle out to join the vibrant mainstream media active in other parts of the country. True, sectarian killings, the recovery of dumped bodies and the low-level insurgency by Baloch separatists that has been going on for years have grabbed headlines, but there has been little focus on how the groups involved operate. The Supreme Court has taken strong notice of the missing persons issue, and here the suspicion has fallen on intelligence agencies accused of indefinitely detaining, or even killing, those they believe are involved in anti-state activities. But it is now becoming increasingly clear that there is more than one player that can be suspected of having a role in the unsolved cases of the missing and the dead. There is also a hint of a darker reality — that overlapping interests cause players with different sectarian, security and separatist agendas to collaborate, and that the alleged ‘outsourcing’ of killings has allowed matters to spiral out of control.
It is in this context that our reporter’s recent visit to the site of the graves, an account of which was published in yesterday’s paper, serves as an eye-opener. The graves were located near what appeared to be a training camp for sectarian terrorists. And yet two decomposed bodies were identified by the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons as those of activists picked up in Awaran, a hotbed of the Baloch separatist insurgency. Many pieces of the puzzle are missing and to conjecture at this point will not lead to much, though the picture might become clearer once the judicial tribunal tasked with investigating the matter finalises its report. Even so, it is time that the focus of the issue was expanded to include other possible actors in this deadly drama — and the nexus among them as well as their link to the state’s shadowy agencies.
Republished in The Balochistan Point on February 18, 2014