At the beginning of 2023, the monthly report of Paank, the Human Rights Department of (Baloch National Movement) BNM stated that Pakistani forces forcibly disappeared 41 people from Balochistan, including 18 students and a journalist.
While 14 forced missing persons were released from the torture cells of the Pakistan army after severe physical and mental torture. The district profile of 41 people suggests that the majority of disappearances occurred in the districts of Kech-11; followed by Quetta-7 and Noshki-5, the Afghan Diaspora reported.
According to Paank, in the months of December 2022 and January 2023, the cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances significantly increased in Balochistan. The report further states that the current trend of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, along with the inhuman and cruel use of torture, is a slap on the international community and guardian of human rights all over the world, the Afghan Diaspora reported.
Balochistan’s disputes with Pakistan date back seven decades after being denied a fair part of the province’s natural resources and a series of military operations. According to Baloch nationalists, the province was militarily taken in March 1948, against the desire of the population.
Balochistan’s rising ethnonationalism resulted in insurgencies in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The continuing war in Balochistan erupted under Pakistan’s military ruler Pervez Musharraf, with the 2006 assassination of nationalist leader Akbar Bugti igniting the most wave of Baloch resistance.
As reported by the Afghan Diaspora, amongst various issues of resource exploitation; marginalization of Baloch people; absence of freedom etc, the malice of enforced disappearances, covertly sponsored by the Pakistani state and military have been of serious concern. For the past 20 years, the people of Balochistan have experienced enforced disappearances.
The international community must take action to hold Pakistan accountable and to ensure the protection of human rights for all. The UN and other international organizations must work to monitor and investigate these cases, and to provide support and assistance to the victims of torture, and their families, the Afghan Diaspora stated.
Enforced disappearances rose when the then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf overthrew Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to form his authoritarian regime in 1999.
Thousands of people from all age groups started to disappear in Balochistan. In March 2011, the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIOED) was formed to work on the issue. According to figures released by COIOED in July 2022, a total of 8,696 cases of missing persons have been reported. While 6,513 of these cases have been solved, 2,219 are still pending, the Afghan Diaspora reported.
There is no fixed pattern regarding the people picked up or those who disappear. The abducted person could be a farmer, a journalist or a student; the profession is not a factor.
Asserting a voice against the state atrocity is the main reason behind enforced disappearances. Baloch journalists and activists first went missing and then found dead in mysterious circumstances in Sweden, Canada and Azerbaijan.
One such instance is that of Baloch Human Rights activist Karima Baloch, who died in Canada. Toronto police stated that her body was discovered on December 21, 2020 morning after she’d gone missing a day earlier, the Afghan Diaspora reproted.
In August 2022, “Enforced disappearances in Pakistan have become a routine occurrence,” the Asian Human Rights Commission stated. The AHRC said both, the government and judiciary were mindful of the enforced disappearances.
Moreover, the state also stifles the Baloch people who often protest in a peaceful manner. In a dogmatic regime, common people are usually not allowed to express their difficulties, the Afghan Diaspora reported.
The Afghan Diaspora reported that Amnesty International’s briefing states that the state uses harassment, intimidation, and even violence, to silence peaceful protests by families of the disappeared. Many families turn to public demonstrations to pressure authorities to release their loved ones or for information about their whereabouts, having exhausted all means of redress through the justice system
More tragically, Baloch people are labelled as ‘militants’, by the Pakistani military and establishment.
The Afghan Diaspora reported that in July 2022, the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), the National Party and other Baloch nationalist groups alleged that at least five Baloch men, labelled as ‘militants’ were killed in the infamous Ziarat operation were reported as missing after they were picked up by security forces.
On the other hand, the Provincial Government has stated that the nine people killed in the security operation in Ziarat were all militants.
Showcasing obstinance, adviser to the Chief Minister of Balochistan on Home Affairs, Mir Ziaullah Longau, stated that many people listed as missing persons are actually hiding in the mountains and carrying out attacks against the state.
The National Assembly on October 21, 2022, for the second time, passed a bill seeking to declare enforced disappearances a heinous crime after removing a controversial section which provided for punishment to those filing false complaints.
Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar agreed to withdraw the controversial Section 514 from the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022, after several lawmakers, mostly belonging to the parties in the ruling coalition, protested over it and refused to vote for the bill in the present form. (ANI)