While there has been a concerted effort by the security establishment to highlight long-time settlers (Balochsitanis, as opposed to the Baloch) from other provinces and ethnicities who are in the line of fire in Balochistan, a recently-released report reveals that bodies found in the province are still overwhelmingly those of the ethnic Baloch.
According to an official report of the Balochistan home department, 218 of the 308 bodies found in 2010 and 2011 were of the ethnic Baloch people. The trend does not seem to be changing for the current year as 16 of the 25 bodies recovered were also of ethnic Baloch people, the report revealed.
Ninety-five bodies were found in Kalat district, making it the deadliest district in the province. Senator Rubina Irfan, who is originally from Kalat, believes the bloodshed in the district clearly demonstrated how the ethnic Baloch were specifically being targeted by miscreants.
“We want to know who is presenting these bodies to us as ‘gifts’,” Irfan said, adding that every new body found sabotaged the peace process between the government and the Baloch people. The senator went on to add that she couldn’t deny the alleged involvement of foreign actors when it came to the target killings of the Baloch people.
Quetta and Makran district came in a distant second and third with 61 and 63 bullet-riddled bodies of ethnic Baloch found, respectively, during the last two years.
As many as nine bodies of ethnic Baloch people were found in Nasirabad while three were recovered from Sibi.
Sabotaging peace efforts
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid MNA from Balochistan Mir Hamdan Khan Bugti claimed that more than half of the bodies found in the province were the work of ‘local sardars’, adding that their only objective was to wreak havoc in the province.
Bugti refused to name these ‘local sardars’ but conjectured that the ‘sardars’ had been killing innocent Baloch people to sabotage the government’s peace efforts.
The report also indicated a gradual increase in sectarian and ethnic killings as over 31 Pashtuns were killed during the past two years, the report claimed. On the other hand, the identity of 38 mutilated bodies could not be ascertained by law enforcement agencies.
According to the findings, a nexus between separatist outfits and ‘external forces’ enabled such sustained violence. The Balochistan home department largely placed the blame for incidents of violence across the province on Baloch separatist groups. The groups listed include the Balochistan Liberation Army, the Balochistan Republican Army, the Baloch United Liberation Front and the Baloch Liberation Front. The report also claims that many of the groups often work in tandem with banned religious outfits.
Meanwhile, Vice Chairman for Baloch Missing Persons Qadeer Baloch told The Express Tribune that over 14,385 Baloch people have gone missing since 2001, according to data collected by Voice for Missing Baloch Persons. As many as 400 bodies were recovered while over 200 Baloch were killed in target killings, he said.
“We are going to establish a camp in Islamabad,” Baloch said, adding that law enforcement agencies refused to cooperate with the victims’ families.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2012.
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