Because it fears that Balochistan is on the brink of no return, the Jamaat-e-Islami has called for “an end to the unannounced military operation and the role of the [intelligence] agencies in the province.”
The party has also asked for military leaders, including former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, to be held accountable in a court of law for the human rights violations in Balochistan.
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Asadullah Bhutto and its leaders in Balochistan and Sindh, Abdul Mateen Akhunzada and Mohammad Hussain Mehanti, met with veteran Baloch leader, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, at the latter’s residence on Thursday. When asked if the situation in Balochistan was bad, Akhunzada darkly remarked, “It is not just bad, it has gone far beyond that.”
The “makruh and condemnable role” of security agencies operating in Balochistan is not the way to developing an understanding, Akhunzada told the journalists present. JI believes that the number of enforced disappearances and the bullet riddled bodies being found are signs of how Balochistan has become reminiscent of the condition in Bangladesh prior to its independence in 1971.
The party and Mengal also spoke about the targeted killings of Punjabi settlers in the province.
Mengal reiterated that the “protectors of the country” – the Pakistan Army – has become an army for Punjab only.
Mengal is reported to have said that, “If a Punjabi is killed, dozens of Baloch youth are taken away by the agencies illegally. People wait for years to hear about their whereabouts and then receive the bullet-riddled bodies of their loved ones. How can there not be a reaction?” He also questioned why the military does not react in a similar manner when people are killed in Karachi.
Despite JI’s call and Mengal’s warnings about the condition in Balochistan, no one sees a way out until the military withdraws from Balochistan. Mengal told JI that there was not a “single person in Pakistan who could gain the trust of the Baloch”.
The leaders agreed that those responsible for targeted killings must be dealt with – but in a legal manner.
Mehanti also questioned the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, for not fulfilling his promise to withdraw troops from Balochistan. JI leaders also blamed the current Pakistan Peoples Party government for having wasted the last four years instead of trying to reverse the situation that Musharraf left Balochistan in.
The JI leaders said there were “no prospects for progress” in the province and highlighted the injustices, deplorable economic conditions and lack of resources given to Balochistan. JI also asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the situation in Balochistan, similar to how it acted on the target killings in Karachi earlier this year.
Mehanti said his party appreciated the fact that Sharif had visited Mengal to discuss the matter and that there was a need to unite to prevent a ‘catastrophe like 1971’.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2011.