Rejecting a report presented by the Balochistan’s home department on the rampant human rights violations and law and order situation in the province, a senate panel has urged the government to introduce laws that clip the wings of all-powerful security agencies.
The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday warned that not taking serious steps, and pushing the province against the wall, will lead the Baloch to seek external help.
It pressed the government to undertake more “serious” efforts – suggesting laws be introduced to “curtail” the power and influence of security agencies, alleged to be involved in violations of human rights in the province.
The committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Afrasiab Khattak, and was briefed by Balochistan Home Secretary Naseebullah Bazai.
“The recovery of mutilated bodies and incidents of kidnappings for ransom are particularly a matter of great concern. These issues must be taken up seriously and sincere efforts are needed by the government to normalise the situation,” Senator Khattak said, while addressing a press conference.
He added that recovery of mutilated bodies comes across as disassociation of the victims by the state and its institutions, who, it seems, “consider them as enemies rather than their own people”.
There is common perception that secret agencies are involved in enforced disappearances and dumping the mutilated bodies, Khattak said. If this is true, he added, the government should control its institutions as they are damaging the sovereignty of the country.
The senate committee suggested that laws should be introduced to bring security agencies under the democratic control of Parliament.
Senator Khattak further said that the government cannot evade its responsibilities by stating that foreign elements are involved in destabilising Balochistan. “They (the government) should investigate that what kind of circumstances have paved way for foreign elements,” he said, adding that “People will look towards foreigners when their rights are trampled down by their own.”
The senate committee suggested that the government should hold negotiations with the disenchanted Baloch to address their grievances. “All the Baloch political parties must be taken into confidence for negotiations. If the government can agree to hold talks with Taliban militants, then why not with our Baloch brothers,” Khattak said.
Home Secretary Naseebullah Bazai said the government had arrested 31 people in connection with kidnappings for ransoms. “Law-enforcing agencies often arrest the culprits but they are set free due to lack of evidence,” he told the committee.
He also added in his report that incidents of targeted killings had declined relatively during the past one year.
Minorities in Balochistan
The functional committee said that targeted killings of people from the Hazara community are not sectarian violence, rather acts of terrorism. Terrorist groups are behind these killings, the committee added.
Khattak said that kidnappings of members of the Hindu community were also discussed during the meeting and the committee will pressurise the provincial government to ensure protection to the life and property of minorities.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2012.