ISLAMABAD: Mama Qadeer Baloch, who gained prominence for leading a march of Voice of Missing Baloch campaigners on foot from Quetta to Islamabad last year, is readying for another battle.
“I am considering going to the Supreme Court against the sudden ban on my foreign travel by putting my name on the Exit Control List,” he told Dawn on Wednesday, angry at being stopped from leaving for USA.
“I will announce my decision to the media on Friday after getting legal advice,” the 72-year-old VoMB leader said.
Mama Qadeer said he, VoMB general secretary Farzana Baloch, and a relative, were invited to a conference in New York.
Nasrullah Baloch, president of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), protesting the ban said the Baloch and Sindhi community in the US had invited Mama Baloch.
“Every person has the right to go anywhere but unfortunately in Pakistan people are not allowed the freedom of movement,” he told Dawn.
Nasrullah Baloch said Mama Qadeer was stopped “to keep the international unaware of the violations of human rights in Pakistan” and appealed to “take notice” of the incident.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also slammed the ban on the Baloch rights campaigner.
“Mama Qadeer and the other two activists were informed at the airport that their names had been placed on the ECL on account of their anti-state activities. HRCP does not subscribe to the view that exposing human rights violations is an anti-state activity. The three activists have been raising their voice against enforced disappearances in the country for many years and have been protesting peacefully towards that end,” the independent commission said in a statement.
It considered it “ridiculous to try and prevent someone’s point of view from being heard” simply by denying them to leave their country, and said the action was “bound to add to the sense of deprivation felt by the Baloch and also demonstrates the many difficulties that human rights defenders face in their work in the country.”
HRCP called for a government probe “who ordered the activists to be stopped and why” and make the findings public.
In his talk with Dawn, Mama Qadeer Baloch said he and his companions had five-year visa stamped on their passports and purchased non-refundable tickets for their journey to New York.
“We reached Karachi airport at 7pm on Tuesday and the airline staff issued boarding passes
and took our luggage. They directed us to go to Gate 27 to take the flight.
“While we were standing in the queue to board the aircraft, a female official of FIA asked Farzana her name and when told, the officer said she was not allowed to travel as she is a terrorist and police have registered
cases against her. I asked the lady if I can go to US, she said ‘no’ because I was also a terrorist,” he said.
“I told the lady that I have been doing peaceful protest for last six years so how I can be a terrorist? But I and Farzana were taken to a separate place and after three hours interrogation we were told to return to Quetta,” said Mama Qadeer, who is thinking of filing a writ in the Supreme Court.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2015