Missing persons: Balochistan CM asks Lateef Johar to end strike

Published: May 30, 2014

Baloch student activist Lateef Johar has been on hunger strike for the past 38 days to demand the authorities find their missing leader. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: In the scorching heat outside Karachi Press Club, the Balochistan chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, sat next to a pale Lateef Johar and asked him to give up the hunger strike. “I have come to meet you and appeal to you to end your hunger strike,” he said to Johar. The chief minister had come to Karachi to especially meet Johar on Wednesday.

The student activist who has been on hunger strike for the past 38 days, however, refused to give in. In a low voice, he replied, “Tell me the name of the agency that has detained Zahid Baloch. When those who have him admit he is in their custody, I will end my strike.”

The chief minister became silent and helplessly looked at the crowd of journalists and activists who pressed him to blame the law enforcers for his abduction, and to let everyone know when he would be recovered.

But the official parried all these questions. “I can’t make promises that can’t be fulfilled,” he lamented. “But I wish to resolve the missing persons’ issue and hope Zahid Baloch will be found soon.”

Zahid Baloch, the chairperson of the Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) – Azad was allegedly picked up by law enforcers from Quetta on March 18.

“The Balochistan High Court has given orders for the registration of the FIR, but it has not been registered yet,” said an activist, Kareema Baloch. The chief minister said that he would look into it.

Dr Abdul Malik said that he knew Zahid Baloch very closely. “I have worked with him. Though we had our political differences, I knew him.” The chief minister said that he had been a member of the BSO and the organisation had played a major role in his election as the CM. When journalists asked him what he had done for the missing persons in Balochistan, he said, “You know all the problems Balochistan is facing.  Zahid’s abduction is not in my information, but being the chief minister, I am responsible,” he admitted.

Turning towards Johar, he said that though the latter had the democratic right to protest, he wanted the hunger strike to end. Johar was, however, adamant to continue until Zahid’s whereabouts were known. “People have assured us several times but there have been no results,” he said.

Dr Abdul Malik Balock signed a petition regarding Zahid’s abduction that would be submitted to the United Nations. Meanwhile, Johar’s doctor also addressed the chief minister. “His blood pressure is low and his sugar level is dropping,” he said, referring to the medical complications.

Since the hunger strike started, Johar’s weight has dropped from 76kg to 54kg. “He gets a lot of headaches. He used to be a gentle speaker but now he doesn’t talk to anyone.  He cannot drink a lot of water as he throws up.” said an activist. Other activists vowed to continue the struggle until their leader was found.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2014.

Reader Comments (35)

  • Moeed
    May 30, 2014 - 10:13AM

    I feel no pity for this guy as he is a member of organisation which calls for separation of Baluchistan so in this matter I fully support our agencies in making people like their leader disappear

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  • MA
    May 30, 2014 - 10:18AM

    He is dying of hunger, but doesn’t let his cell phone go!!! What a guy. Mobile Phone companies should use this as a commercial platform

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  • May 30, 2014 - 11:28AM

    @Moeed:
    He is a human first, then a member of BSO.
    He has the right to information.
    Keep on depriving balochis from their basic human rights and we will have more and more separation organizations.

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  • MAyOr
    May 30, 2014 - 11:36AM

    @Moeed:
    Wouldn’t it be better if u’d support your agencies for resolving the issue instead of brushing it under the rug ? Vanishing the ppl wouldn’t solve the problem. Our Punjab centric governments never thought about giving the due rights to other provinces.

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  • Baloch
    May 30, 2014 - 11:37AM

    @Moeed:

    You don’t believe in the right to self-determination? How hypocritical of you to sympathize with (Indian) Kashmiris and their desires but not with the Baloch freedom struggle.

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  • Humayun
    May 30, 2014 - 11:38AM

    disappointing attitude of the Welfare Islamic state Pakistan towards its citizen – Pakistan is a case of implosion !

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  • May 30, 2014 - 11:49AM

    first of all we should keep in mind that separation/independence movement is not because of Mr Azad or this gentleman but this is all because of us. rest assured once we gave them their due rights there shall not be any such movement. we should abhor abducting of any leader and should ask responsible to pay heed to their grievances.

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  • Sarmad
    May 30, 2014 - 11:59AM

    How can somebody live for food without 38 days? Scientists should amend their theories that a man cannot live without food for 7 days…

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  • Mishrab
    May 30, 2014 - 12:16PM

    He should go and sit for hunger strike in Quetta/Lahore/Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Why just creating mess in Karachi for nothing.

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  • goldconsumer
    May 30, 2014 - 12:19PM

    @Baloch:
    How much self or any kind of determination have your Sardars given you, by the way?

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  • Duraiz Manmud
    May 30, 2014 - 12:34PM

    The guy has right to information…agreed! However i would appreciate if he decides to go on hunger strike again till such time BSO renounces their seperatist agenda and admits to murdering of non baloch professors, doctors and citizens in Balochistan as well!
    Tail Piece: We should fully back our agencies as long as they act in our supreme national interest.Recommend

  • Baloch
    May 30, 2014 - 12:40PM

    @goldconsumer:

    You’re beginning to sound like an Israeli. Israelis blame all the misfortunes of Palestine on Palestinians, never themselves.

    You are proof that all colonists have the same mentality, regardless of religion.

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  • Feroz
    May 30, 2014 - 12:45PM

    Non violence is the best form of protest and fasting a very important tool. One would have thought the needless loss of its eastern wing would have taught Politicians and Security forces a few lessons, sadly none were learned. Matter should be sorted out democratically and speedily, else the world could step in to prevent a genocide.

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  • lahori
    May 30, 2014 - 1:26PM

    I’m saddened to hear about the plight of this young gentleman. Pakistan should act fast democratically and LISTEN to the demands of the Baloch people and solve the PEOPLE’s problems. Baloch are great and honest people.

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  • Pity
    May 30, 2014 - 1:37PM

    Agreed that he is a human being and has the right to information. But I wonder why he does not go on a hunger strike when separatist groups kill ethnic communities in Quetta or when these groups kill innocent people through railway blasts in Awaran?

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  • Marri
    May 30, 2014 - 2:35PM

    As they say “Ignorance is bliss” and true for the great Pakistani’s with the certificate of patriotism. Lateef Johar is a mere reflection of the thousands of youth in Balochistan, who are being driven to the edge. Trust me, its not a good feeling to know that people, who are responsible for the oppression have been installed at the helm of affairs by the state machinery.

    Instead of abducting people in broad day light, the establishment should take measures to promote education, create employment, build infrastructure, provide healthcare and most of all bring forward leaders who sincerely want to do something for Balochistan and the country as a whole. The Balochistan assembly is full of so called leaders with zero contribution to the welfare of their own people. Billions are embezzled each year and the only rhetoric we get to hear is that they are your own leaders. How can they be my leaders when they are selected and not elected. There are some stalwarts in PMLN Balochistan, I ask the central leadership just to visit their constituencies and see the terrible state of affairs themselves. Mr sharif has to come out of the numbers game, if he’s learnt anything from the past else for the people of Balochistan he’s equally responsible for what they’re going through and would have no choice but to resort to other means for their basic rights.

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  • Pakistan
    May 30, 2014 - 2:45PM

    @Baloch:
    What is the issue here; after 18 th amendment the provinces have control of basically everything; there is a Baluchi nationalist CM, we have had a Baluchi PM and a Baluchi president. All Pakistanis, whether in lahore or karachi or Peshawar want Baluchis to be happy and have their rights. What ami I missing here?

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  • Simba
    May 30, 2014 - 4:19PM

    Indeed a brave act I must admit, but for what a leader who had no interest in education or what so ever. Every person living in Balochistan is well aware of the fact that what BSO is good for i.e violence, anarchy, and disruption in studies even for those students who are genuinely willing to learn.

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  • munis saraiki
    May 30, 2014 - 5:54PM

    Pakistan heading towards another 71..i wanna tell u all da people dis balochistan belongs to baloch people not to lahore n islambad..jeay lateef johar..

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  • Shahoo
    May 30, 2014 - 6:40PM

    @Pity I really feel pity on your knowledge about Balochistan. Railway tracks in Awaran???? Would you mind tell me when those tracks were built?

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  • May 30, 2014 - 7:39PM

    @Pakistan:
    You are missing they have a separate agenda backed by foreign powers the enemies of Pakistan who just want the separation not the rights for Baluch people. In fact with their such vicious atrocities Baluch are suffering the most.We should not have Any sympathy for the traitors or separatist.

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  • May 30, 2014 - 7:40PM

    @Moeed:
    well said Moeed.

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  • goldconsumer
    May 31, 2014 - 1:58AM

    @Baloch:
    Mr. Baloch (From New Delhi I assume) few things always boggle in my head when in comes to Baluchistan issues. Indeed its the most backward province right now despite being the richest in mineral resources (and mineral resources only coz most of the wheat you eat comes from other parts of the coutry including your beloved punjabi brothers).

    Akber Bugti, the great father of the baloch nation was the governor in 1963 when gas was discovered in Sui. He signs an agreement, pipelines are laid and the gas goes to Punjab. Now any sensible man wouldn’t do that you know. They would ask the federation to Industrialize its own province. He would take the initiative of asking investors to come in and invest, simply because that creates jobs. Skills are raised and within decades you start reaping the results. The whole idea of attracting skilled manpower is the whole essence of immigration programs in the west by the way and they are really benefiting from that.

    Now what Punjab does is heavily industrialize Gujrat, Faisalabad and Lahore etc with this readily available energy source. Punjab gets more rich than what Mr. Bugti expected. He breaks the agreement and asks Mr. ZA Bhutto to raise the tariff (again for personnel needs coz the province is not getting a dime). Now Mr. Bhutto, in all his wisdom decides to bomb Bugti and Co and hence the first strike on baloch “rights” was made by a Sindhi. (So what the fuss with Punjab then??)

    And then we have seen the same drama repeatedly. Punjab “stealling” your gas and what not. I just wish baloch people understand what the real problem with them is. Or perhaps they are not in a position still to escape from the cluthes of these sardars. Feel sorry for you really

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  • I am also baluch
    May 31, 2014 - 3:14PM

    Unfortunately the baluchi movement for rights has been hijacked by foreign powers (India, Afghanistan). We dont want to kill settlers (treachers, doctors, engineers) who were here doing honest work. Why blow up pipelines, electricity? How does that help the baluch people? I fully agree that missing persons should be brought to court. This has to happen and the law upheld. But I have had enough of all this killing for no reason but to promote other countries agenda. BSO should start cleaning streets, teaching maths and english in school, become engineers, teachers, doctors, soldiers, pilots, not waste time.

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  • I am also baluch
    May 31, 2014 - 3:16PM

    By the way, ALL of Pakistan is open to the Baluch. They can go anywhere, study anywhere, get jobs anywhere. I am in karachi, 70% of Pakistan’s taxes come from Karachi, which also go to Baluchistan. Stop wasting time and focus on improving peoples lives.

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  • hoho
    May 31, 2014 - 5:38PM

    I have heard Anna Hazare use to have ham burgers at night during the time when he and his followers were on strike.

    And then he would pretend to the world and media that he is a strict vegetarian on a hunger strike! Oh, the irony!!

    Anyway coming to the topic, the boy needs to understand that he has to live for his parents, his family and loved ones. Understandably his leader must have been very close to him but after getting ‘assurance’ from CM, he needs to drop the strike and channel his struggle in a much organized way.

    The Baluch deserve our attention and our care!!

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  • Saad
    May 31, 2014 - 10:13PM

    @Moeed:
    Who are you to deny them the right of self-determination. Balochistan is not a hostage or a slave of Pakistan. THey are not bound to Pakistan for eternity. If they want out, you start killing them?

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  • Baloch
    Jun 1, 2014 - 10:20AM

    @hoho: your first and last sentences contradict each other as they are beyond the grasp. Anna Hazare or whosoever does it so , because they have reservations, Nobody is here to sit idly try to grow up my dear

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  • Zog
    Jun 1, 2014 - 12:23PM

    @Saad:
    Can you tell me who is denying the baluch their rights?

    EVERY SINGLE PAKISTANI wants them to have their rights.

    What’s happening in Baluchistan now is a RAW backed terror movement to destablise Pakistan.

    It will backfire.

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  • Jun 2, 2014 - 1:10AM

    nationalists should be banned and dealt with very strictly.

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  • Lunacyassailam
    Jun 2, 2014 - 7:09AM

    Notice the Lady with a red Kavach on her hand, its actually the Noble Hindu Baloch revolting against Arab Moslem Occupation.

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  • Xulfjan
    Jun 2, 2014 - 8:57AM

    @Moeed: That may not be the best way to win over your opponents!!

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  • Enough
    Jun 2, 2014 - 1:23PM

    I looked on Youtube last night and saw what the BRA and BLA are doing in Baluchistan.

    Whilst I want the law to be upheld and missing persons to be dealt with by the courts, I have little sympathy for this so called baluch rights movement now after I saw the terror, cruelty and wanton damage to public property they inflect in the name of their “rights”.

    Stop taking Indian money to destroy Pakistan and get a job and contribute to society instead.

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  • waseem
    Jun 2, 2014 - 6:24PM

    Vow,
    this is guys is pretty great health, despite being 33 days of hunger strike. what is he? Superman or a ploiticl gimmick?

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  • Muhammad Rizwan Ali
    Jun 2, 2014 - 8:40PM

    @Moeed:
    Are you not afraid, the time come, when people ask help from UNO…

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