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Mama Qadeer (left), Farzana Baloch and Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur discuss the issue of enforced disappearances at a programme titled Unsilencing Balochistan at T2F on Friday evening.—White Star
Mama Qadeer (left), Farzana Baloch and Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur discuss the issue of enforced disappearances at a programme titled Unsilencing Balochistan at T2F on Friday evening.—White Star

KARACHI: With the latest cybercrime bill passed by a National Assembly committee, freedom of expression has once again come under threat adding onto the gag on reporting and talking on certain issues within the borders of Pakistan.

One such issue is the struggle for an independent Balochistan that has been ongoing over decades and seen an entire generation succumb to the vagaries of the conflict. The T2F gave this cause and its spokespersons a platform on Friday evening to air their grievances against the state and the establishment.

Titled “Unsilencing Balochistan (Take 2)”, a panel discussion was held between Mama Qadeer, Farzana Baloch, Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur and Wusat Ullah Khan moderated by activist Moneeza Ahmed.

Earlier this month a seminar on the same topic ‘Unsilencing Balochistan’ scheduled to be held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences was cancelled owing to same reasons. The event was rescheduled and relocated to Islamabad with all the panellists, except one, changed.

With the peg of the evening at T2F, the enforced disappearances of the Balochi activist, the narrative was not new to the public. In 2013, Mama Qadeer, and 20 odd people began a long march from Quetta to Karachi to demand the release of their missing, and if not release, a stop to their torture and murder and production in court.

Mama is vice chair of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons and has experienced the trauma of having lost a loved one. His son Jalil Reki, member of the Baloch Republican Party, was found shot dead in 2011 after being missing since 2009. “These are ways to cripple us mentally and physically so that we no longer are staunch on our cause. But they forget that the Baloch are a proud nation. We have fought and survived various invaders and our heritage and traditions have only further strengthened instead resolve,” he said.

Images of the Long March saw a few resilient faces on foot on eerily desolate roads and highways, amid dusty roads and broken shoes. What remained conspicuous in all these images was the cart with portraits of the missing men who are still not heard of despite years.

Farzana Baloch, whose brother Zakir is still missing, inquired from the audience and beyond as to why questions were raised about her seeking out the help of international agencies to help recover her brother. “I keep asking you for help. I ask the High Court of Balochistan and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the police and the activist groups. But can you not hear us?”

She further raised reservations about the way the Balochis and their cause was treated. “If our brothers, sons and fathers are guilty of a crime, produce them in court and charge them officially. Punish them after charging them. But follow the law and the constitution.”

On recalling how Mama Qadeer heard of his son’s death and the discovery of his tortured body at a protest, she said, “There is a limit to our tolerance. Imagine how it must have felt when in the middle of the Long March, after reaching Dera Ghazi Khan, we saw the news of the discovery of a mass grave in Khuzdar.”

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur went on to lament “how people in the country only hear the state’s narrative and no one is willing to hear ours. So what the state labels us that how people refer to us.”

The discussion then moved on to the role of the media in the reporting of this issue and how a more conducive space needs to be given to allow the various voices to be heard.

An edited version of the documentary, “Missing in Pakistan”, was also shown that highlighted the struggle of the families of the missing persons, and the closure their lives lack.

Shortly after the programme, T2F director Sabeen Mahmood was shot dead in a gun attack on her car near the Defence Central Library.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015

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Comments (20) Closed



khan Apr 25, 2015 07:32am

I am proud blaouch and a very proud pakistani. Mama qadeer you do not represent me. Could you explain to me about the thousands of peoples killed by BLA with whom your son belonged. Terrorism must be eliminated from pakistan at all cost.

James Apr 25, 2015 08:16am

When a state instead of protecting lives decides to take away lives it ceases to be a state - it becomes a banana republic. The tragedy of Balochs is made worse by their tribal chiefs who are ruthless and have some how survived in this era - either all men are equal or one is superior by birth - in such situations the superior has all the rights and others by definition will suffer.

khanakharab Apr 25, 2015 08:20am

Every one knows who killed her... still no body is pointing fingers at those culprits as they are state withing state

kk Apr 25, 2015 08:24am

right activist shoot dead after this saminar question is who is feel threat from this activist

Shahid Malik Apr 25, 2015 09:07am

The people raising voice against missing people in Baluchistan must be allowed to raise their voice and concerns but who is going to stand for thousand of innocent workers from other provinces being killed in Baluchistan by the separatist fighting against our army. Were they not human beings? Did not they have any right to exist and earn their livings through hard work?

lkhan Apr 25, 2015 10:12am

When will Pakistan consider the basic human rights of its people? Killing with impunity, more over state backed, should never be accepted by civil society.. Damn each person responsible for such killings.. Each human life should be bestowed the value deserved, never death for freedom of thought, ideas. Pakistan lives in medieval times or worse...

Awais Ali Apr 25, 2015 11:57am

Speechless. I don,t what is going on.

Huzaifa Akhtar Apr 25, 2015 12:02pm

so much lies and deceit .....

Ali Apr 25, 2015 12:11pm

Who killed her?

F. Zahra Hassan Apr 25, 2015 12:36pm

Very sad and very tragic.

DawnAdmirer Apr 25, 2015 01:53pm

We cannot silence the righteous voices.I am worried if this continues, what will be the future of Pakistan.

chaudryLawyer Apr 25, 2015 02:11pm

Unsilencing Balochistan’ scheduled to be held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences was cancelled owing to same reasons???what reasons?

khalid Apr 25, 2015 03:29pm

Sad news . But we should not forget that,T2F like so many other NGOs is being funded by the western world whose evil designs against our beloved home land are no secret to us.The fact that USA and the west is financing/helping all the factions fighting against each other in Arab World is a clear example to ruin the Muslim world. This looks to be part of their agenda.

M. Siddique Apr 25, 2015 05:41pm

Higher ups need to open their eyes and address this issue seriously. Otherwise our enemies will take advantage of the situation.

Zarar Apr 25, 2015 06:23pm

@khanakharab So, be first to expose those if you have any authentic evidence. God bless you with lots of.........

hani Apr 25, 2015 07:29pm

@khanakharab
who killed her ???

M. Emad Apr 25, 2015 07:50pm

Post the whole “Unsilencing Balochistan (Take 2)” in YouTube.

atif baloch Apr 26, 2015 01:23am

@khanakharab if u know who killed her why dont you take action against them and why dont u go to courts so that the culprits are punished

Kamran Apr 26, 2015 02:30am

@khalid : Stop spreading lies and speculations.

By your crooked argument "that,T2F like so many other NGOs is being funded by the western world whose evil designs against our beloved home land are no secret to us" then whoever murdered her must be a "patriot" Pakistani.

Your views look to be conspiracy theory.

NN Apr 26, 2015 06:41am

They killed the voice of baloucistan