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HRCP seeks ceasefire, talks on Balochistan

January 23, 2006

ISLAMABAD, Jan 22: The HRCP has called for an immediate ceasefire in the strife-stricken Balochistan and urged parliament to convene a special session to ensure a sustained process of negotiations which must continue till the underlying issue of provincial autonomy and rights of people of smaller provinces is resolved.

A Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report on Balochistan seeks due respect for economic and political rights of the tribal population, dismantling of unnecessary check-points and respect for the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan.

The report was launched by HRCP Chairperson Asma Jehangir at a press conference on Sunday. It is based on information received by an HRCP fact-finding mission and conclusions it had arrived at during its visits to Quetta and Sibi on December 26-28 and to Sui and Dera Bugti from the 8th to 10th of the current month.

Ms Jehangir challenged the government claim of the ongoing ‘casualty-less’ operation and said the HRCP team found that people were being forced out of Sui and 85 per cent population had fled the Dera Bugti town due to fear of rocket and air attacks by armed forces.

In its report, the HRCP’s fact-finding mission has found gross violations of human rights by the Frontier Constabulary in the Bugti and Marri areas and ‘seeds of inter-provincial mistrust and enmity being sown by the FC through propaganda.’

The report has recorded repeated occurrence of extrajudicial killings, arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture and violations of human rights and freedom of the press in Balochistan.

“The HRCP received evidence that action by armed forces has led to deaths and injuries among civilians, including women and children,” Ms Jehangir said. There was evidence of attacks conducted by fighter jets, she added.

She said the HRCP team, including herself and Afrasiab Khattak, was fired upon by ‘unknown persons’ near Kashmore. Several bullets were fired in the direction of the team’s car for five minutes.

The HRCP chairperson lamented that first the Rojhan DSP did not register their complaint and later the FC people in the Quetta Press Club forced journalists to report a statement allegedly issued by the Balochistan Liberation Army, claiming responsibility for the attack.

“The FC has left its job and is serving as a propaganda machine sowing seeds of ethnic disharmony,” she said.

She said almost every journalist who met the HRCP team complained of threats they received from intelligence agencies. A few of them said they had been picked up by the agencies and then released.

DEATHS: The report reveals information about the children and women killed in the Dec 17 operation in the Marri areas of Jabbar and Pekal.

According to it, 12 women and children were killed in Jabbar and 22 injured. Nine women and children were killed in Pekal. The bodies of the victims were never brought to hospitals and those injured could not travel out of fear.