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'Voice of Baloch Missing Persons' caravan reaches Islamabad

February 28, 2014

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In this photograph taken on February 24, 2014 Mama (uncle) Qadeer, marches during a protest for Baloch missing people along the Grand Trunk Road in the town of Dina, some 100 kilometers south of Islamabad. — Photo by AFP
In this photograph taken on February 24, 2014 Mama (uncle) Qadeer, marches during a protest for Baloch missing people along the Grand Trunk Road in the town of Dina, some 100 kilometers south of Islamabad. — Photo by AFP
In this photograph taken on February 24, 2014 a group of Baloch people, led by Mama (uncle) Qadeer push a hand cart carrying the pictures of their missing loved ones as they walk along the Grand Trunk Road in the town of Dina, some 100 kilometers south of Islamabad.  — Photo by AFP
In this photograph taken on February 24, 2014 a group of Baloch people, led by Mama (uncle) Qadeer push a hand cart carrying the pictures of their missing loved ones as they walk along the Grand Trunk Road in the town of Dina, some 100 kilometers south of Islamabad. — Photo by AFP

RAWALPINDI: After 2,000 gruelling kilometres on the road, a band of families led by 72-year-old Mama Qadeer reached the end of their protest march over missing relatives in the Pakistani capital on Friday, DawnNews reported.

They are the relatives of people who have disappeared in Pakistan's troubled southwestern province Balochistan, allegedly at the hands of the country's security services.

About 20 to 30 marchers, led by a retired banker known as Mama (uncle) Qadeer, hoped 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 earlier on the road close to Rawalpindi, Islamabad's twin city.

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

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.