ISLAMABAD, April 9: Civil society activists and citizens joined hands with the families of the missing persons from Balochistan as they took out a rally on Saturday to demand recovery of their loved ones. The rally taken out from the National Press Club to D Chowk was organised by the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a non-partisan organisation formed more than two years ago against disappearances, kidnappings and target killings of students, political activists and citizens in Balochistan.

The rally’s participants raised slogans against the continued disappearances of Baloch youth.

The 23 family members of the missing persons are in Islamabad to highlight their plight as they have been running from pillar to post for the recovery of their relatives.

The protesters carrying pictures of the missing persons blamed the security agencies and the lack of political will of the elected representatives to resolve the matter.

“We demand immediate release of thousands of Baloch activists,” Nasrullah Baloch, who is the chairperson of the VBMP, told the rally at D Chowk.

“Time and again political leaders had acknowledged the historical injustices against the Baloch people. But instead of correcting them, they only make empty promises.” He regretted that on the issue of missing persons also, the politicians have not gone beyond giving assurances and making promises.

He said as they are raising voice for the recovery of missing persons, “repression was also increasing” against them.

“Over the past six months a new trend has emerged. Kidnapped Baloch are returned to their loved ones with their bodies desecrated beyond recognition,” Mr Baloch said. “Such gruesome acts cannot help in establishing peace in Balochistan.”

Farzana Majeed, sister of missing Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) chairperson Zakir Majeed, said state policy on Balochistan was made by the military establishment, lamenting that that the elected legislatures were powerless.

She said if the situation continued to deteriorate, the families of the missing persons would be forced to “highlight the issue internationally”.

Aasim Sajjad of the Workers Party Pakistan (WPP) said it was the responsibility of all progressive forces outside Balochistan to stand with the Baloch people. “This is the only way that the state can be held to account for its actions.” He said nothing had been learnt from the East Pakistan debacle.

Others who were present to express solidarity with the families of the missing persons were Alia Amirali of the National Students Federation and Nisar Shah of the Labour Party Pakistan.

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