It may be too early to call it a trend, or to equate it with the effort to pull back a troubled province from the brink, but four Baloch missing persons have returned home to different parts of Balochistan in the past three days.
While reports quoting security officials have placed the number of those returned at nine over the past five days, the chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VFBMP) Nasrullah Baloch said that only four missing persons were released, and that hundreds were still missing.
“We had information that nine Baloch persons were released, but we have been able to confirm the release of four,” he said.
Family sources confirmed the recovery of Mohammad, son of Gul Jan Baloch, Mohammad Hanif, resident of Mand in Kech district, Majid Baloch, resident of Buleilda, Kech district, and Bohair Ali Baba Johair, resident of coastal town Pasni.
Bohair was kidnapped in September 2011, while the other three were abducted in January, 2012.
“They were abducted by government functionaries recently from their hometowns,” Nasrullah alleged. The chief of the VFBMP, an organisation striving for the safe recovery of missing persons, further said that it will not be satisfied “until and unless all missing persons are released.”
“The government and judiciary should release all missing persons. We, the relatives of missing persons, demand from the government and concerned authorities to take action against security officials who are involved in extrajudicial killings.”
According to the VFBMP, over 8,000 Baloch political dissidents have been listed as missing during the past couple of years and the organisation has complete details of 1,500 missing persons.
The VFBMP also called upon international humanitarian organisations to take notice of enforced disappearances and the recovery of mutilated and bullet-riddled bodies in Balochistan.
Observers in Balochistan have welcomed the safe recovery of the four missing persons and suggested that, if continued, the move will improve the situation of the province.
The resurfacing of the Baloch missing persons comes at a time when the security situation in Balochistan has come under heightened scrutiny especially following a resolution on Balochistan, recommended in the US Congress. The resolution supported the ‘right to self-determination of Baloch people’.
Earlier, the prime minister announced to convene an all-parties conference on Balochistan, and, on Thursday, the government announced to drop all cases against angry Baloch leaders in an attempt to initiate negotiations. On Friday, President Asif Ali Zardari said he would like to meet the Baloch leaders and tasked Governor Balohistan Nawaz Zulfiqar Ali Magsi to bring the dissidents to the table.
Several cases related to missing persons are also being heard in courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, which, in its last hearing, ordered the ISI and MI chiefs to submit a detailed report on the security situation in Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.