Repression at the hands of the security agencies and the denial of even the most basic human rights are among the major issues in Balochistan. This was said by Senator Hasil Bizenjo on Monday, who termed the state as a major violator of human rights in the province. He speaking at a seminar on “Human rights situation in Balochistan: issues and challenges” at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
He added that the Balochis have genuine reasons for their resentment; the security establishment and the government does not have the vision or will to address these happenings,” adding, “they are not even ready to accept such human rights violations are taking place in the province. Only common people are worried about the Balochistan crisis, not the powerful ruling elite”.
Citing the loopholes in the constitution, Sungi Development Foundation Director Programmes Sheikh Asad Rahman noted that laws do not empower the people and state institutions. “The security apparatus violates human rights through article 245, and remain unaccountable for their controversial actions in any court of law,” he said. “Violence cannot be stopped unless security forces are brought under the civilian government and obey the constitution,” he added.
Moreover, Nasreen Azhar of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called for transparent investigation of all the cases of human rights violations. She said, “They must be held accountable for gross human rights violations.”Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar of Workers Party Pakistan said Balochistan is a political issue and there is a war-like situation in the province. “Pakistan should end its colonial attitude and policy towards Balochistan and bring back its security forces from there as today’s unprecedented unrest and violence is direct result of this colonisation process,” he added.
Meanwhile, a documentary on Balochistan titled ‘Negotiation at gun point’ was also screened. It highlighted the human rights violations in the province and interviews of violence victims. The sub-human environment of life in Balochistan was depicted and commenting on the plight of Balochis, a young boy commented (in the film), “We hardly have money to buy shoes, so how can the government accuse us of harbouriong weapons?” The documentary also featured clips of Akbar Bugti proclaiming “you can kill a man but not an idea so these terrorists in uniforms can’t harm us.”
An audience member criticised the panel for showing several years’ old footage. But Faisal Nadeem Gorchani of SDPI stated that the injustices still prevail. He added that the worsening human rights situation in Balochistan requires open and sincere debate in the mainstream public domain so that the decades’ old grievances of this internal challenge can be peacefully addressed. He maintained that due to facts often being distorted and hidden from general public, information gaps exist but caution should be taken before unquestionably believing false propaganda.
The house further demanded protection of the lives of journalists in the province and immediate production of missing persons, withdrawal of Frontier Constabulary from interior Balochistan and its deployment at borders to deal with ongoing Taliban militants infiltration. The panelists also called for an end to kill-and-dump policy and intelligence agencies’ alleged patronisation of sectarian and ethnic groups and accountability of all torture and abduction cases.
The seminar was jointly organised by SDPI and Sungi Development Foundation.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2011.