Balochistan’s Cry for Help
According to Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a human rights organisation, more than 6,000 people are still missing from Balochistan. Since 2009, 1,400 people who were abducted by security forces have been found dead,
their bodies riddled with bullets and drill holes, or bearing signs of torture and mutilation.
Human rights groups have documented how
widespread and entrenched the practice has become, particularly by ISI which has been accused of operating a “state within a state” in Pakistan and is reported to employ more than 10,000 operatives, most serving army officers. Abduction targets
are suspected Islamic or separatist militants but also political opponents, activists, students, politicians, human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers, all picked up without due process and no information given to the family left behind.
The question that haunts Pakistan is why extrajudicial kidnappings and torture continue, even as the country has made the transition from the
military dictatorships and coups that had defined the nation since its formation in 1947, to the democratic civilian governments in power since 2008. In opposition, Imran Khan repeatedly pledged to end the practice, but since he became prime minister in 2018,
the disappearances have continued – some say escalated – while accountability seems as elusive as ever.
power and influence remain sacrosanct. In opposition, Khan was seen as deferential to the army, and the backing of the military helped him to power in 2018. Khan’s administration has still not criminalised, nor ratified the UN convention against, enforced
disappearances. Though Imran Khan has spoken about the need for more development in the troubled province, Baloch activists remain sceptical, viewing these projects as yet another policy designed to strip the Baloch from their territorial sovereignty
and their resources.
The United States and the majority of European countries did not back the freedom struggle of the people of Bangladesh,
but they ought to support the righteous cause of independence for the people of Balochistan. It is not only in their interest, but it is in the interest of all those who want to see an end to the sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis to stop the piling
up of Sunni fundamentalist organizations right close to the border of Iran, which is primarily Shia. The western countries did not come to the rescue of the people of Bangladesh, a country which comprises one of the most moderate Muslim populations in the
world. They have a chance to create another moderate Muslim country, which could act as a buffer between a Sunni Islamic state, Pakistan, and a Shia Islamic state, Iran. This could easily make South Asia a peaceful region for many, not just for the people
This matter cannot be emphasized strongly enough. The human rights violations of the Balochi people, who are a distinct ethnic and linguistic group, has been one of the most under-reported stories to date and ought to be brought into the
limelight just the way some daring Pakistani journalists did in 1971.
At a time when Islamabad has been urging the UN Security Council to take
action over Kashmiris in the wake of the changing status of Jammu and Kashmir, it is worth mentioning that the human rights violations in Balochistan, the most volatile province in Pakistan, have already drawn concerns of the international community and other
human rights watchdogs.
The birth of a new country is no doubt in the offing but the silence of the world communities on the subject is only
making matters worse and delaying the inevitable….and if the international forums choose to remain silent….it’ll be at the cost of a million innocent lives.
16 Dec 20/ Wednesday
Written By: Saima Ibrahim