On a drenched carpet outside the National Press Club, three-year-old Qambar sat comfortably on Zerjan Balochi’s lap, swirling his plastic spoon in melted ice-cream. He remains aloof about his surroundings and his future. The smile on his face fades away as he witnesses his mother crying.
For the past ten days, Zerjan has been camping outside the National Press Club Islamabad along with her son and three cousins with framed photographs of Zahid Baloch--- Zerjan’s husband and secretary general of the Balochistan Student Organization (Azaad), who reportedly went missing from the Satellite Town in Quetta three months ago.
Having traveled for hours by public transport, they finally land in the capital to register their protest against the enforced disappearance of Zahid allegedly by security agencies.
At night after the kidnapping, Zerjan received a phone call informing her that her husband was picked up. Since then, she has been struggling to seek justice from the government and the judiciary for her husband.
“My five-year-old son is at home in Quetta with my parents. He cries each time, whenever he sees his father’s pictures,” Zerjan said while talking to The Express Tribune.
Zerjan said their protests in Quetta and Karachi failed to attract government’s support to her case, which brought her to the capital to make an appeal to the Supreme Court and the international community to help her find her missing husband.
Zahid is one of hundreds of Baloch who have allegedly been picked up by the security agencies.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Baloch Human Rights Organisation Chairperson Bibi Gul said that while compiling reports from across the province, it transpired that in almost every month a person disappears, and hundreds of tortured and mutilated bodies were found in the province.
Gul said that for the past four to five years, frequent incidents of operations have led to more people migrating out of the province for a secure life.
“Even schools are not safe. Children are growing up in a terrorised atmosphere. People are affected psychologically as more people are now victims of fear and depression,” she added.
Awami Workers Party General Secretary Shahak Suleymani said that the government has miserably failed to address the missing persons’ issue in Balochistan. He said that while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke about the issue in 2012, no practical steps have been taken by his government to resolve the issue. Zahid’s cousin Banardi, who was also accompanying Zerjan, said that their trip to the capital has been disappointing.
“I see cars belonging to international aid agency officials zipping by the press club. No one ever stopped to ask why we are here, let alone address our plea,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.