SHATTERED LIVES IN BALOCHISTAN
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of organizations of families of the disappeared and human rights advocates directly working on the issue of enforced disappearance in Asia, expresses deep concern over the alarming human rights situation in the occupied Balochistan area in south western part of Pakistan where a huge number of disappearance cases has been recently reported.
The AFAD received information from its international friends from Balochistan areas that more than 8,000 activists were forcibly made to disappear by Pakistani intelligence agencies and their fates and whereabouts are still unknown.
In the recent report of the Asian Human Rights Commission, it has been estimated that the number of Baloch men, women and children abducted by Pakistani intelligence agencies has reached 8,000. Activists, politicians and student leaders are among those who have been targeted in enforced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests and cases of torture and other ill-treatment. The violence takes place against a backdrop of increasing political unrest and ongoing military operations in the Balochistan areas.
We are quite aware that Balochistan has a long history of insurgency with nationalist groups advocating greater autonomy. The Balochistan people have been demanding for economic emancipation, concretely through a bigger share of the revenue generated by the province’s natural resources, principally natural gas. Despite being rich in natural resources, the Baloch people remain economically marginalized and receive little or no benefit from the Balochistan economy.
In its efforts to counter the Baloch struggle, the Pakistani government has attempted to suppress this opposition by increasing the military presence in the region. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed from the hands of the Pakistani security forces. Many people are reported to have been subjected to enforced disappearance, torture, summary executions and deaths in custody with each passing day. Although, the human rights violations are equally attributable to both the Pakistani army and the Baloch nationalist rebels, it is the Pakistani state which is largely responsible for the continuing violence and attack against the Balochistan civilian population. It has been reported that the Pakistani intelligence agencies have started to employ the method of “kill and dump tactics,” in which the victim is first abducted, tortured and killed in cold-blood and then dumped in open fields. The recent discovery of the two dead bodies is part of this growing trend. Bullet-ridden bodies of those abducted, many showing signs of torture, are increasingly being found across Balochistan. Another case is that of a renowned Baloch lawyer, columnist and poet, Mr Ali Sher Kurd who was abducted on 21 September from Quetta and his mutilated body was found on 24 September 2010 in Khuzdar town in Balochistan.
It is really a shame on the Pakistani government to take advantage of the existing political unrest as a justification for its obvious act to terrorize the Balochistan people and to exterminate them through ethnic cleansing. It is very clear that the suppression of fundamental freedoms and civil liberties are not meant to crush the rebellions alone but to suppress the democratic demands of Balochistan people for self-determination and social emancipation. In November 2009, the Pakistani government announced a package of proposed policy and legislation reforms for Balochistan and promised to resolve the cases of enforced disappearances as soon as possible. It has, so far, failed to do so.
The continuing military offensives and the report of the clandestine conduct of nuclear tests in the Balochistan area by the Pakistani army which started in 1998 is no less an act of genocide, one that can be condemned as a crime against humanity.
This grim situation does not only demand condemnation but also for an urgent action. Thus, AFAD calls on the government of Pakistan to:
1. Stop the growing commission of human rights violations and other atrocities in the Balochistan areas. The rise in enforced disappearances and “kill and dump” incidents have only aggravated the already existing political tensions in the region and have already led to the spare of reprisal killings by Baloch armed groups.
2. End the ongoing militarization and find peaceful ways to resolve the five decades of political rebellion.
3. Fulfill its human rights obligations as enshrined in its Constitution and embodied in the number of international covenants and other instruments which Pakistan is a party to and to investigate the human rights violations particularly the commission of enforced disappearance, punish the perpetrators and provide justice and reparations to victims and their families.
4. Show its sincerity and commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights by signing and ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
The AFAD believes that any efforts towards peace will be meaningless and empty unless a peaceful resolution of existing conflict be based on truth and justice.
Justice to all the victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan!
Justice for all victims of human rights violations!