QUETTA, Oct 11 The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has called for an immediate demilitarisation of Balochistan as a first measure towards confidence building and to pave the way for political dialogue in the province.

Addressing a press conference after her week-long visit to the province, HRCP chairperson Asma Jehangir warned that if corrective steps were not taken immediately the country might regret the consequences.

Human rights activists I. A. Rehman, Hussain Naqi, Tahira Abdullah and Syed Iqbal Haider attended the press conference.

“The situation is alarming and worsening by the day, the volcano may erupt anytime with dire consequences if the government fails to address the grievances of people of Balochistan,” she said.

Ms Jehangir said that a series of meetings with political parties, individuals and government and non-government officials had convinced her that decision-making in Balochistan was still in the hands of elements who were in command before Feb 2008.

“It is the military that still calls the shots when it comes to Balochistan,” she said.

The HRCP chairperson said the incidents of violation of human rights were widespread and harrowing.

She regretted that the state had not addressed the complaints and the media either under pressure or on account of its own failings had not been able to probe and report the dreadful reality on the ground.

She said the most hair-raising were the continuing incidents of enforced disappearances.

Ms Jehangir said that during her visit the HRCP had been able to document 30 new cases.

“This appears to be only the tip of the iceberg because a large number of families do not have access to any forum of protest,” she said.

She said the commission had ample evidence to support the allegations of victims' families that the perpetrators of enforced disappearances were intelligence agencies and security forces.

She said that members of the Hazara community had claimed in a meeting that their 270 people had been killed since 2004 in sectarian violence.

“The Hazara community has accused security agencies of colluding with the criminal elements,” she said.

Ms Jehangir said that representatives of the Pakhtun community had a long list of grievances relating to denial of rights, discrimination in allocation of resources and non-acceptance of their demands to be an equal unit of the federation.

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