KARACHI, March 9: Two more pictures of Baloch missing persons have disappeared from the prominent protest camp outside the Karachi Press Club.
The men were found, but tortured and killed.
The bodies of Babu Iftikhar Baloch and Maqbool Ahmad Baloch were found on the Northern Bypass in the Manghopir area on Thursday, more than a month after they had gone missing in Karachi’s Raees Goth near Baldia Town.
For Abdul Qadeer Baloch of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, their case is closed, but not of their three friends, who were also ‘picked up’ a few days later.
He has little hope of their safe return.
“After cities of Balochistan, Karachi is fast becoming a dumping ground for bodies of missing Baloch men,” he says while referring to the record he maintains.
“With the addition of these two, in recent months a total of nine bodies of Baloch missing persons were found in different parts of Karachi. The victims were mostly students and picked up in different areas at different times.”
Babu Iftikhar Baloch and Maqbool Ahmad Baloch were reported missing to the area police on Jan 24. Originally hailing from Panjgur district of Balochistan, they had moved to Karachi to get a better education due to the deteriorating security situation in their native towns and province.
But fate followed them in the coastal city as well.
Their three friends could have approached the police, held demonstrations and met human rights leaders to bring them back only for three days before they met the same fate on Jan 28.
“Three other Baloch students — Waseem Afzal, Zahid Zafeer and Manzoor Qalandarni — who were friends of Iftikhar and Maqbool’s went missing in different areas on Jan 28,” says Abdul Qadeer Baloch.
“None of them was a militant, but they did attend protest demonstrations only to show their solidarity with the missing persons and to support Baloch rights. This is the only reason I can guess is behind their disappearance.”
Abdul Qadeer Baloch’s organisation is gaining popularity, but for no good reason.
He recalls the days of late 2011 when he rallied a few families of missing persons and launched the Voice of the Baloch Missing People after his missing son Jalil Reki was found but in a state not different from that of Iftikhar and Maqbool — brutally tortured and killed.
Now the number of Baloch missing persons registered with his organisation has touched the 2,353 mark.
He says nearly 25 of them have been picked up by the ‘intelligence agencies’ in parts of Karachi, and the number keeps rising.
Amid little hope, Abdul Qadeer Baloch believes he has a few options left and the protest camp is the one he has chosen. His consistent struggle after he buried the mutilated, bullet-riddled body of his ‘missing’ son in November 2011 has hardly fulfilled any of his expectations.
With a general election drawing near, for novelist and author of The Baloch Who is Not Missing Mohammed Hanif things are not looking up.
“I don’t think that there is a single political party in Pakistan which is willing to take a decision on this issue,” he says. “The state itself has been picking up its citizens for years and no political party is talking about it. No leader talks about it publicly. It shows there is something seriously wrong with the state.”
Amid repeated disappearance of Baloch men and discovery of their mutilated bodies, Mr Hanif can only find a ‘big question mark on the legitimacy of the state’ and calls it ‘wishful thinking’ to keep people under immense suppression intact.
His fears are echoed in the measured words of soft-spoken Abdul Qadeer Baloch, who still replies smilingly rather than show anger while conveying his views.
“There is no light at the end of the tunnel,” he says. “Dictator’s rule, a democratic system and a free judiciary — nothing is going in our way. But still we have to live with this. For comfort of the families and to satisfy my own conscience, I will keep raising our voice against injustice and inhumanity.”