KLF: The missing Baloch are among us

Published: February 17, 2013

Writer Mohammed Hanif during his session on day two of the Karachi Literature Festival 2013. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

The tiny Society Suite reserved for Mohammed Hanif’s mighty subject and audience was packed to capacity. Fifteen minutes prior to the writer’s arrival, the early birds had grabbed all the seats and late comers were left to worm their way through the narrow entrance door. 

“These are not reserved seats, sir… not your personal property,” one irked attendee said sharply to a gentleman who was holding onto three vacant chairs. “Sorry, but these seats are for my wives,” he responded cheekily, while those around him burst into giggles. As they haggled with dignified restraint, a Karachi Literature Festival usher interrupted with the announcement: “Mohammed Hanif’s session has now been shifted to the Main Garden – everyone, please make your way there.”

Under a white awning in the pleasantly bright and expansive garden of Beach Luxury, hundreds of attendees made themselves comfortable as they waited for a session titled ‘Book Launch: The Baloch Who is Not Missing and Others who are, by Mohammed Hanif’ to open on day two of the fourth KLF. Apart from journalists and students, there was an interesting mix of people in attendance – ladies in saris, ladies in skinnies. The gentlemen were spotted in the more unexciting combination of pants and button-down shirts – except for the US Consul General’s security guys who wore khaki suits with matching shirts and ear-pieces.

The most striking individual in the vicinity, however, was Farzana Majeed, who walked on stage along with Hanif, moderator Mohammad Ali Talpur and HRCP director IA Rehman. Dressed in traditional Baloch kameez shalwar with long pockets at the front, even from a distance, Majeed’s veiled face stood out, her piercing gaze and confident steps arresting the audience’s attention. The moderator opened the session, talking about an issue that continues to haunt many Baloch people like her.

“The issue of missing people has been completely ignored by the press in general and society at large,” said Talpur. As he related chilling accounts of numerous young men who have been snapped and ingested by the flytrap of the security agencies, he paused and said, “The pain of the relatives of missing people is unimaginable.”

Hanif didn’t quite agree, and also chose to switch to speaking in Urdu. “In one way, their pain is conceivable. Imagine what you would go through if your child were 30 minutes late coming home from school or tuitions,” said the writer, causing some women to gasp and others to squirm in their seats. “If your child is late and he and his teachers do not answer their phones for two hours, what state will you be in?”

In brazen words, Hanif said Pakistan’s media, courts and society are willfully numb when it comes to the reality of missing people in Balochistan. “Why is it that in the bustling city of Karachi, relatives of missing persons who have been camping outside the press club for months go unnoticed – we act like they are missing,” he joked wryly.

Majeed spoke next. “My brother Zakir Majeed has been in the custody of intelligence agencies for four years,” she began, as all eyes locked onto her. He used to talk about human rights, she said, and for that he was silenced. According to her, there are more than 15,000 cases of missing people in Balochistan, with about 700 bullet-riddled bodies recovered.

“They do it because they can,” said Hanif, referring to the security and intelligence agencies allegedly responsible for these illegal abductions. “These are all middle class, college-going boys they have been kidnapped – could the fauj get away with this in a place like Lahore? No, because they know they will be questioned.”

After Hanif read out an excerpt from his pamphlet, Talpur remarked that the ISPR may issue a statement against the publication, saying it is fabricated. Hanif responded by making a joke: “I don’t know why but for some reason these people from the ISI and military are all either Zafars or Sajjads.”

When the Q&A session opened, a gentleman who asked the panelists why Imran Khan ignores the Balochistan issue was met with eye rolls. Talpur responded by saying, “You should be asking him this question!”

Another gentleman identified by the name Rasheed Khosa said that he was abducted by the security agencies for two weeks in Balochistan. “I went through it all myself,” he said. “I implore to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, if you want to know who they are, what they do and who else is languishing in those cells, I can identify them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Nadir
    Feb 17, 2013 - 4:43AM

    Looks like the dresses of the attendees was more important than the topic of the talk.

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  • Saeed
    Feb 17, 2013 - 1:34PM

    And where was that champion of human rights who would be queen? Presumably at Bilawal house angling for the post of PM. Why has one not heard her views on the missing?

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  • Gem
    Feb 17, 2013 - 1:34PM

    I am so mad at the govt from doing this to balochistan

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  • Khan
    Feb 17, 2013 - 1:59PM

    Balouchs are our bothers,,we need to realize their pain now otherwise it will be too late..i m not saying for them but us..bare in mind these things will haunt us badly in future

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  • Khan Bhai
    Feb 17, 2013 - 1:59PM

    Human rights in Balochistan is basically linked to the demands of a better life and a greater share in the wealth Balochistan contributes to the country. This is not unreasonable.

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  • Saira
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:48PM

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/508503/karachi-literature-festival-declining-state-of-human-rights-in-the-country/

    @saeed: the brave lady was there! Read what she has to say before makimg stupid remarks!

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  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Feb 17, 2013 - 5:45PM

    15000 missing people? the figure goes up a 1000 every time the issue is highlighted. My question is if there are 15,000 missing people, it should have caused as many i.e. 15,000 protesters at protest camps?? No more than 100 people are present at the present a camps. i had been there in quetta. The Baloch who is missing is tragic for families. But there are Balochis who never existed and now their names appear in missing person lists. That’s strange

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  • Manju
    Feb 17, 2013 - 5:58PM

    According to her, there are more than 15,000 cases of missing people in Balochistan, with about 700 bullet-riddled bodies recovered.
    Human rights of Kashmiris and Indian Security forces sabotaging Kashmiris…. HAAN!!!!! Pakistan truly values human rights…. Off course inside coffins!!!

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  • Manju
    Feb 17, 2013 - 6:03PM

    Another gentleman identified by the name Rasheed Khosa said that he was abducted by the security agencies for two weeks in Balochistan. “I went through it all myself,” he said. “I implore to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, if you want to know who they are, what they do and who else is languishing in those cells, I can identify them.”
    Ok now thats too much said before a forethought of consequences.. Forget people missing from Balochistan…. I think now people will soon start missing from KLF…

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  • jawed sardar
    Feb 17, 2013 - 7:17PM

    It was very clear from day one that the missing persons in Baluchistan and else where is the work of establishment. The same systematic kidnapping and killing was seen in East Pakistan. Journalist was killed by the agencies. We must say in publicthe facts. You can not treat a desease with false false or incorrect prescription.

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  • A. N Baloch
    Feb 17, 2013 - 7:53PM

    The silent of Pakistani media indicates its moral bankruptcy. The society as a whole became a nation of people with dead conscience. Who cares about Baloch people, to them these are bunch of people who are bent on disintegrating the country Recommend

  • Zehra
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:48PM

    I attended this talk and it was very moving and disturbing. I am astounded that this writer felt the need to mention the audience’s outfits.

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  • gp65
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:45PM

    @Saeed: “And where was that champion of human rights who would be queen? Presumably at Bilawal house angling for the post of PM. Why has one not heard her views on the missing?”

    IT is probably because you choose not to hear – not because she is not saying it.
    She has been speaking about missing persons since 2011. http://www.ostomaan.org/articles/news-and-views/10878.
    http://www.pakreporter.com/content/asma-jehangir-scoffs-failure-resolve-missing-persons%E2%80%99-issue
    She also spoke in the KLF http://tribune.com.pk/story/508503/karachi-literature-festival-declining-state-of-human-rights-in-the-country/

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  • Feb 17, 2013 - 11:40PM

    the speaker sounded very well trained and prepared, could be a spokesperson for bso in disguise, it didnt appear too genuine.

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  • Gem
    Feb 18, 2013 - 12:23AM

    @zehra why does is disturb you? My brother said the same when he read it but i think its an accurate depiction of what crowd it was. The kind that is in an insulated bubble and won’t do more than tsk tsk about this heinous crime against humanity

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  • goldigger
    Feb 20, 2013 - 2:22PM

    @Nadir:

    They are more thoughtful than you or your political leaders. They are called the writing and thinking machines of our society, such people have always played a positive role in societies. Revolutions begin because they identify and raise the cause for it, to stand up against the oppressor.

    On second thoughts, I do not see any fancy dresses. You only see it because you are cynical.

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  • Ali Baloch
    Mar 1, 2013 - 11:54PM

    @Tribune reader and Jameel Ur Rasheed. The speaker had nothing to do with BSO give any one 4 years of mental anguish and torture and they will be more bitter then Farzana Majeed. As far as you are concerned Mr. Rasheed do you really think that the agencies have stopped abducting people? The number keeps going up and it will keep going up until and unless the people of Pakistan stop licking the boots of the Generals and stop worshiping at the feet of the the Army. You have asked why there are only a few people? do you really think that every one is brave enough to challenge the 5th largest Army in the world and the “Best intelligence agency in the world”? I personally knew Qumber Chakar a student activist from BSO and until his sad demise his family was threatened every week not to utter one word or he will die. If you have any reservations why don’t you go and talk with Qadeer Baloch he will give you the name the surname the Id card No of the 15000 people their address and every thing else to satisfy your conspiracy theory infested “Brain”. I would recommend the website but unfortunately it is “Blocked” by PTA so that the “morals” of Pakistani youth are not compromised by the “lies” stated in the website.Recommend

  • A J Khan
    Mar 18, 2013 - 3:44PM

    This work is the continuation of what was started by london group, which first initiated action against pakistan in East pakistan and later continue its onslaught in balochistan. Asad Rehman, Ahmad Rashid and Dalip Dass (an Indian) were paid by foreign intelligence agencies for death and destruction in Pakistan once the insurgency began in 1973.Najam Sethi and Rashid Rehman stationed themselves in Karachi to secretly raise funds for the armed movement.
    Today Mohammad Hanif, moderator Mohammad Ali Talpur and HRCP director IA Rehman are producing work sponcered by Intelligence agencies. they are neither the first to sell themselves cheaply nor are they last. Such people will continue to appear and will be relegated to trash of history.

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  • faisal
    Apr 11, 2013 - 12:27AM

    The abducted ones r not those who cry for human rights, its those who r actively involved in targeting settlers n faujis. Why don’t the human rights people talk about the killed settlers

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