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Not missing, says the Supreme Court

Published Feb 17, 2012 10:53am


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According to various statistics available from the Asian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International, at least 900 Baloch citizens have disappeared up until January 31, 2012. – File Photo

As per the order of the Supreme Court, the ISI and MI produced seven detainees before the bench on Monday, February 13. Three of the detainees were brought from the Parachinar Internment Centre, while the rest from Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital. To describe softly, their condition was so frail and ailing, their bodies covered with blisters, so painful to witness that the mother of two of the detainees died of a heart attack the next day. However, not one of the detainees was a Baloch.

To probe into a bit of history, one of the perceived reasons for the suspension of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhry was his pursuit of the missing persons’ case, the majority being from Balochistan. However, ever since his reinstatement, the SC has restored and worked upon a large number of cases, largely pulling political maneuvers against the elected government, but has remained complicit upon the blatant human rights crisis ongoing in Balochistan. The recent presentation of detainees can, at best, be stated as a cosmetic move.

From the establishment’s point of view, the Baloch resistance is predominantly a conspiracy hatched by foreign powers to undermine Pakistan’s position as a global stalwart in the energy sector, with much of the blame going to the neighboring giant and other “anti-Islamic” nations. From Zaid Hamid’s view, the Sardars have joined hands with the “illuminati”, to somehow justify slain leaders of the province. While Nawab Akbar Bugti may be the most prominent leader to be targeted in recent times, the history books will bring up many more similar prominent names that have been targeted similarly.

While agencies and the security establishment have historically targeted prominent Sardars, the assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti seems the most significant impetus to the resistance over the past decade. Former President Pervaiz Musharraf is largely held responsible for his death, and the lack of any investigation or punitive measures from any government institution has taken away any scarce hope of justice held by the Baloch and brought the movement widespread support from all corners.

To make matters worse, mutilated bodies of prominent grassroots leaders have been simply dumped in the troubled areas, as a message to silence all those who oppose the oppressors. That, however, has added more fuel to the fire.

To someone new to the topic, the Baloch resistance may seem forty-years old, or at most from the creation of Pakistan. However, it takes a closer look to understand that the resistance goes further back to colonial occupation by the British. The difference between then and now can be judged by the nature of the perceived occupier. The British used politics and money to push their agenda, the Baloch resisted by means of poetry and literature. Today, both the oppressed and the oppressor use firepower to fight their war of supremacy.

Balochistan is seen as Pakistan’s treasure trove and is perceived as its saviour from an economic perspective. However, the security establishment’s narrow and egoistic view inhibits any possible progress, which is evident not only by the living conditions of the inhabitants, but also the lack of access to any justice to the people. Their policies have not only been snubbed, but have unfairly targeted a proud race, and have suppressed their freedom, liberty and the right to their land.

According to various statistics available from the Asian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International, at least 900 Baloch citizens have disappeared up until January 31, 2012, with 236 bodies dumped in public places, 56 of them found between the last six months. The relatives of the missing persons have been protesting for the last two years all over the country, only to have a deaf ear turned towards them by the media.

This constant cold shoulder to the woes of the Baloch can prove to be fatal for Pakistan. The same has added fuel to the low-lying insurgency, which is increasingly gaining momentum and becoming, as per statistics, more challenging for the security forces. Civilian, Security Forces, and Militant fatalities in 2006 stood at 226, 82, and 142 respectively. In 2011, the same figure stands at 542 civilians, 122 Security Forces personnel and only 47 militants, according to the SATP. Every passing day more people are committing to the same cause, and one must worry of the perception that will be held by the future generation of Balochis.

The recent US Congressional hearing on Balochistan is a cause of alarm for Pakistan. While at one end it does display the extent of involvement of the superpower in Pakistan’s internal affairs, it also displays the extent of the country’s ignorance on the issue. The extent of human rights abuse committed has been conveniently ignored by the security establishment, even when they were constantly being brought to their notice by Baloch activists and various human rights organisations. While the National Assembly has condemned it as interference due to a wider agenda, one must reconsider the circumstances which have brought it to light.

While currently the US State department has stated that it’s the country’s own issue to solve, it displays signs of deeper future entanglement of the issue with our foreign relations.

Currently, it is stated that the United States has a certain amount of covert involvement in the province. This was hinted by Shahzain Bugti’s call to a US embassy official at the time of his arrest for moving huge quantity of arms and ammunitions near Quetta, which was discarded by embassy officials on a non-interference stance. However, future overt involvement could be on call and it could be the next pressure card on Pakistan once the Afghan war subsides. The softest form of that can be in the shape of sanctions, something which Pakistan has borne the brunt of before. The most damaging can be the kind which brought about its separation with East Pakistan.

Even if to some extent the claims of a conspiracy theory may stand to have some weight in the form of support to resistance leaders, the conditions which have brought upon their acceptance of such support can only be blamed on Pakistan itself.

Pakistan’s own political conundrum is most to blame for the mess that Balochistan has become. With no stable political establishment, the military has held the helm of all policies towards the province with only a narrow security perspective in sight. Resultantly, even genuine political participants from the province are considered to be betraying the cause in the eyes of the locals. While some major political parties have highlighted the issue, those have largely been moves for political maneuvering.

Local journalists are now hesitant to cover the issue due to threats the number of fatalities, with ten journalists losing their lives in 2011 alone.

One wonders what shape the crisis takes in the future, and what policy moves the establishment considers for pushing some sort of reconciliation. The time is now crucial for the resolution of the resistance, but from what is apparent, Pakistan could come to witness a very dark future with regards to the province which would put at stake the whole nation.

The writer is a Multimedia Content Producer at


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Comments (12) Closed

Beeberg Bugti Feb 17, 2012 05:30pm
The actual number of " Baloch missing persons" is inaccurate and grossly different depending on who you listen to. These are either grossly ignored or horribly exaggerated whenever you read a tale. Even Mohammed Hanif merely mentioned this in his article 'The Baloch who is not missing': "There are more than 8,000 if you believe Baloch nationalists, hundreds according to human rights organisations, 1,100 according to our interior minister Rehman Malik and none according to our intelligence agencies." When there is such a huge margin and discrepancy in these claims, not to mention accusations that many of these Baloch 'activists' that claim to be disappeared are actually hiding in Afghanistan and GCC countries, then something tells me that this 'missing persons' case is missing one vital thing: HONEST FACTS. and no side appears interested to give a damn - including these crocodile tears from Baloch expats sitting comfortably abroad and mourning the death of miscreants
Agha Ata Feb 17, 2012 07:36pm
Imran Khan is the only hope, a faint hope, but he only hope.
Imran Feb 17, 2012 07:43pm
There are multiple problems at multiple stages, but as usual the common man is suffering. Stubbornness on the side of government, lack of clarity of Baloch and geopolitical interest of international and neighboring countries are reasons that need to be addressed with honesty.
Mir Dilbar Feb 18, 2012 01:33pm
Thank you Mr.Beeberg Bughti, if you are good in maths then please correct the figure we the family members of Baloch's will be grateful to you. But in my opinion your calculation will come to + - + again plus then = 0% missing person's from Balochistan am i right.
Raj Patel Feb 18, 2012 07:29pm
Another Bangladesh in making !!!!
Ali Feb 18, 2012 10:38pm
Mr. Beeberg, we all know that figures are a bit distorted but even if we take the lowest figure of 1,100 by Interior Ministry, even then it is a big number considering the fact that population of Balochistan is the lowest of all the remaining four provinces. And it is not just the Baloch people who have suffered there, indirectly everyone living in Balochistan has suffered due to the situation being created by the security agencies. And even though the CJ has lived in Balochistan and knows about the condition there but he is more interested in pleasing the Army than listen to plights of people of Balochistan (which includes both Baloch and Other communities).
Ali Feb 18, 2012 11:01pm
One thing that is missed by everyone who writes about the Balochistan issue is that Balochistan is not just inhabited by the Baloch people and it is not just the Baloch people who have suffered the brutalities of security agencies there. Infact, it is every community who has supported the right cause in Balochistan who has been harrassed by the security agencies either directly or indirectly. And it is quite normal to expect of USA to interfere in Balochistan because we are dependent on USA through aids and arms. And our leaders cannot call it an internal issue when we supported the resolutions against Libyan and Syrian leaders, wasnt that their internal issue as well?? We are still at a stage when security agencies can correct their stance and make things right by acting in an appropriate manner but I seriously doubt that to happen as our security agencies have always followed their own agendas and have never listened to the civilian leaders (we saw this in 1971) and now again. If the security agencies do not give heed to this issue soon, we will be at a stage when all the people from Balochistan would be up and asking for the sovereignty which is their right.
Baloch Feb 20, 2012 12:22am
This is just a big conspiracy of distabilizing Nuclear armed Muslim country. Pakistan just need a better leader.
Muhammad Shayan Feb 21, 2012 01:38pm
@Mr. Ali, While you are right about the fact that it is not only the Baloch who suffer in the province, the resistance is headed by them and they are suffering the most at the hands of the security forces. The abductions in the province are largely towards those who are related to the resistance or are assumed to be. That being said, all communities suffer due to the lack of development in the province which concerns infrastructure, utilities, education, health, and security. As far as the establishment goes, if the government and the army wanted to pursue reconciliation with the people, they would have made more of a genuine effort to do so and not played the conspiracy card. Being a Pakistani, I hope our leaders wake up and see where their ship is heading before its too late. @Beeberg Bugti The number will be hard to ascertain due to lack of any data collection mechanism in the area. I will also have to agree on the lack of details on a lot of people supposedly missing, but since there is no clarity on the facts related to the issue, these will remain assumptions. The step forward should be an effort for reconciliation. While it stands for all the provinces, autonomy is the need of the day especially for Balochistan.
Dr. Qazi Feb 21, 2012 09:32pm
We must stop and think that Balochistan issue is 40 years old then why a resolution now? It is simple. Some in USA are angry at Pakistan that we have choked off supplies to their troops. Sure they can use air cargo but that is 10-50 times more expensive. We should be realistic and not try to starve their 100,000+ soldiers. WoT may be unpopular in our country. In 10+ years long war there were accidents and incidents where 30+ of our soldiers have been martyred by NATO or Afghanis. This is important but we should not block off all supplies to NATO. Otherwise USA and EU will try to find a way. And one possibility is to use Balochistan. Look at Turkey. They bombard and kill Kurds on frequent basis. But Turkey is a NATO member, so there is no resolution against them on Kurdish issue. As long as we are allies of the USA and NATO and support their cause, they will support us. We have all heard of old saying "You scratch my back ........" Peace.
PMP Feb 24, 2012 10:12am
I think Imran Khan will be a good leader. Time can only tell about his success. Since all other leadership i.e civilian and Military has failed to resolve basic issues of Pakistan, Imran Khan should be given a chance...
C Conyers Feb 27, 2012 04:05am
Why is Pakistan making such a big deal about this issue when the American media is silent. Dawn seems to be making it a bigger deal than it really is in the U.S. It is not as if the west is after breaking up Pakistan. Perhaps the powers in Pakistan are trying to divert their populations minds by creating this fear of another breakup "Orchestrated" by the west. If Pakistan thinks it is as powerless as Sudan then I feel sorry for this Nuclear powered Country.