Balochistan: The province where human rights are bullet-riddled

Published: December 11, 2011
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Nothing has improved in Balochistan, where murders of dissidents and minority persecution are on the rise. NEFER SEHGAL/FILE

Nothing has improved in Balochistan, where murders of dissidents and minority persecution are on the rise. NEFER SEHGAL/FILE

QUETTA/KARACHI: 

Saturday was International Human Rights Day, though in Pakistan the focus remained squarely within its own borders and on one province in particular. 

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan observed the day in solidarity with the people of Balochistan. Taking a look at recent statistics and hearing the stories from some of those affected, one understands why.

According to an HRCP report, as many as 225 bullet-riddled bodies of missing persons were found between July 2010 and November 2011. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VFBMP) puts the toll even higher, at 236, and says that all the victims had direct or indirect political affiliation with Baloch nationalist parties or student organisations.

Most worryingly, the numbers are getting worse. 107 new cases of missing persons have been reported this year, out of which 97 people have been found dead in different locations in the province.

“The writ of the government does not exist in Balochistan” says Tahir Hussain, chairman of the HRCP Balochistan chapter.

Hussain also pinpoints the fragile existence of minority communities in the province. “Minorities are compelled to migrate from Balochistan as they have become a soft target for kidnapping for ransom. At least 100 families belonging to the Hindu community have migrated from Balochistan solely because of kidnapping for ransom,” he says. In addition, as many as 80 Shias were killed in targeted killing and bomb blasts this year.

Settlers are also at risk. “Over 100 families, who are Punjabi and Urdu-speaking, have left the province because they were vulnerable to targeted killing by separatist groups,” he said.

Even those defending such minorities and standing up for human rights are under threat. Two activists –  Naeem Sabir and Mohammad Siddiq Edo – were kidnapped and their bodies turned up this year,” the HRCP report states.

Mir Asghar Bangulzai, the uncle of  VFBMP chairman Nasurllah Baloch, was kidnapped in June 2000 by a group of armed men from Quetta and released after a few days. However, Bangulzai, a tailor by profession, was again abducted in October 2001. A decade has passed and the family is still in the dark regarding his whereabouts. They blame the security forces for the kidnapping.

“You cannot imagine the kind of pain a family goes through when their loved one has gone missing, and at the same time mutilated bodies surface almost every week,” says Nasurllah Baloch.

The HRCP report says that practices of enforced disappearance started during the Musharraf regime in early 2000 and have steadily intensified. “The situation has gone from bad to worse with the discovery of mutilated bodies. Ironically there is no investigation in any of the cases,” says Tahir Hussain.

It adds that security forces are involved in practices of enforced disappearances, while some Baloch armed groups are behind the targeted killing of innocent settlers.

HRCP Balochistan urged the government to investigate the involvement of politicians and security forces.  HRCP also demanded that a judicial inquiry be launched into the kidnapping and dumping the bodies of political opponents. Security forces, however, categorically reject the allegations of foul-play in the province

HRCP highlights Balochistan

Addressing the media at Karachi’s press club on Saturday, HRCP Chairperson Zohra Yusuf appealed to the government to address the sense of alienation felt by the people of Balochistan.

Saying the issue was “of foremost concern in the country today,” Yusuf commemorated the day by saying that people in Balochistan “believe that the government of Pakistan is doing injustice with them and such sentiments are increasing.”

However, relatives of Baloch missing persons announced that they would not take part in the rally organised by HRCP Balochistan to observe the human rights day. “The HRCP does not have any role to play for the safe recovery of missing persons,” said Nasurllah Baloch. “The organization has prioritised other issues, giving lesser attention to the gross violation of human rights. We are holding a separate rally to highlight our plight.”

At the conference, the chairperson repeatedly crticised the government for their role in the violation of Balochistan’s human rights.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2011. 

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Bob
    Dec 11, 2011 - 2:06PM

    This is Insane, Pakistan cries about Indian occupation in Kashmir and in turn they kill their own Boloch people. If Pakistan cannot take care of their biggest provice what are they going to do in Kashmir.

    I have recently visited Kashmir and its a buitifull place, people are really nice and one thing I noticed, They love India very much and want to be with them, only few seperatist groups want to be away from India. Anyways now the seperatist demand has changed. I got to know from my cab driver that the Seperatist now dont want to be with Pakistan also. They want a independent Nation. But majority people still want to be with India.

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  • dr shabbeer rind
    Dec 11, 2011 - 4:51PM

    On the international day of human rights a prominent young baloch faisal baloch was shot dead in pidc area KarachiRecommend

  • Nazir Ahmed
    Dec 11, 2011 - 5:55PM

    The unrest in Baluchistan can be tackled by launching sustainable livelihood programmes at the DISTRICTs level, reaching out to the common man instead of dealing with him through the Sardars.The population is scattered over vast area particularly in the Baloch/Barahwi inhabited areas and sustained efforts are needed to meet the needs of the people. As I know FC Balochistan is trying to help the provincial government in development work.

    The trouble is being fomented by the foreign powers for their own ends. We have to see that we do not keep maligning our own law enforcing agencies who are struggling to counter the threat from international players.

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  • LOVE YOU ALL
    Dec 11, 2011 - 6:09PM

    in fata people going mad nervous breakdown by drones

    women children died

    but human rights every 2 days after only say baloch news

    not favouring anybody please

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  • Someone
    Dec 11, 2011 - 6:38PM

    @Bob: One taxi driver doesn’t speak for all of kashmir. There are countless videos and clips of thousands of Kashmiris holding rallies and waving Pakistani flags and chanting pro-Pakistan or pro-independence slogans. Alas, I don’t think your brainwashed and censored Indian media shows any of that in your country.

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  • asif
    Dec 12, 2011 - 1:25AM

    @dr shabbeer rind:
    very sorry for that, but how can you say that young, brave and courageous baloch was shot dead by Government officals?

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  • Ali Mardan
    Dec 12, 2011 - 1:32AM

    One has no right in Balochistan unless you are a part of the current Govt: or serving as a high ranking officer. I bet the Provincial Chief doesn’t know the meaning of human rights either.

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  • First drink, don't think
    Dec 12, 2011 - 1:41AM

    well if balochis can just get rid of their sardars and nawabs every thing will become normal. Current government is a purely baloch government in Balochistan, Baloch nation shouldn’t be crying on the issue, atleast now. secondly if Baloch sardars are so much concerned about their nation why don’t they just resign and join the hunger camps??Recommend

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