2,000-km march for 'missing' persons nears end

By AFP
Published: February 28, 2014
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Relatives of missing persons pass through a road during Long March rally. PHOTO:PPI

Relatives of missing persons pass through a road during Long March rally. PHOTO:PPI

RAWALPINDI: After 2,000 gruelling kilometres on the road, a band of families led by a 72-year-old are due to reach the end of their protest march over missing relatives in the federal capital on Friday.

They are the relatives of people who have disappeared in Balochistan, allegedly at the hands of the country’s security services.

The marchers, led by a retired banker known as Mama (uncle) Qadir, hope to present a petition to UN officials in Islamabad and meet foreign diplomats to raise awareness of their cause.

“We want to tell (the world) that people are being kidnapped every day in Balochistan, districts are being bombarded and almost every day we are receiving mutilated bodies,” Qadir told AFP on the road close to Rawalpindi.

“We have no more hope in the Pakistani government, which is why we want to talk to international organisations, so they can apply pressure.”

Qadir’s son Jalil Reki, a member of the Baloch Republican Party which is suspected of links to the armed insurgency, was found shot dead in 2011 after going missing.

The marchers set out from Quetta last October, walking first 700 kilometres to Karachi, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, before turning their steps northwards to Islamabad, nestling in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Balochistan, the size of Italy and rich in copper, gold and natural gas, is Pakistan’s largest but least populous province.

It is also the least developed, which has exacerbated a long-running ethnic Baloch separatist movement that wants more autonomy and a greater share of its mineral wealth.

The latest armed insurgency rose up in 2004 and separatist groups still regularly attack Pakistani forces.

Rights groups accuse the military and intelligence agencies of kidnapping and killing suspected Baloch rebels before leaving their bodies by the roadside.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 300 people have suffered this fate – known as “kill and dump” – in Balochistan since January 2011.

The security services deny the allegations and say they are battling a fierce rebellion in the province.

The Supreme Court has also been investigating cases of missing people in Balochistan, issuing warnings to the government to recover these people.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Jibran
    Feb 28, 2014 - 5:20PM

    Its a shame that the ordeal of these poor people fails to shake up the conscience of the Pakistan’s and Punjab’s urbanites, who always pose as the self righteous individuals who lecture everyone all the Time. They love to danced to the tunes of the corrupt judges (Iftikhar Ch), policemen (shahzeb’s dad), and mullahs. Seems like it was not the cause of these individuals which excited them, but their hatred of the opponents of these individuals which motivated them.

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  • Baji Jee
    Feb 28, 2014 - 6:00PM

    May Allah give us courage to stand for the oppressed ones regardless of our personal choices.

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  • Ahmad
    Feb 28, 2014 - 6:12PM

    India must be proud of these agents of his.

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  • Rauf
    Feb 28, 2014 - 7:54PM

    @Ahmad:
    it convenient to blame India for Pakistanis than searching for truth. So bad, Pakistanis have short memory and forgot what Pakistan Army did to East Pakistanis and paved the way for the creation of Bengladesh. West Pakistanis failed to realise the plight of East Pakistanis and supported Al Badr (JI) and the Army. Are they not repeating the same? You cannot hold people of region together under the banner of religion.

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  • MA
    Feb 28, 2014 - 7:58PM

    A common man has no value in the state of Pakistan. Imagine if this was happened in Europe, it would have been a completely different picture.

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  • Usman
    Mar 1, 2014 - 6:21AM

    @MA: If this Europe, Mama Farid would’ve been behind bars months ago for extortion and kidnapping, only his victims do not have the same voice and clout as his. And yes, there would be more clarity in Balochistan as well, extra-judicial killings would not have been allowed. Unfortunately, the head of this march is doing more damage to the cause than promoting it.

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