Indeed, “Balochistan stands out for more than one reason even in the appalling human rights situation across Pakistan today. The state’s security apparatus in the province has been accused of serious human rights violations.
A report published by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has revealed the extent to which rights are continuously denied in Balochistan. Building upon recommendations made in 2009, the HRCP observes that the region stands out even in the dire context of Pakistan as a whole.
As well as highlighting the on-going controversy over control of the rich deposits of resources within the region, the report emphasised that the “larger issue has remained the exclusion of the Baloch people from the decision making regarding how their affairs are governed and persistence of the state with the use of force to address questions that are essentially political in nature.”
Indeed, “Balochistan stands out for more than one reason even in the appalling human rights situation across Pakistan today. The state’s security apparatus in the province has been accused of serious human rights violations. By far the largest number of enforced disappearances in any province of the country has been reported from Balochistan.”
“In a recent aggravation, bodies of missing persons have started turning up in the province with increasing frequency. The right to life and freedom from arbitrary detention are violated with impunity. Violent streaks of sectarianism, extremism, nationalism and separatism have all played a part. An armed insurgency is underway in the province. Bands of extremists have a free hand in intimidating and killing people. Targeted killings and kidnappings for ransom are pervasive. Members of religious minority communities are at greater risk and have been forced to migrate to other parts of the country and abroad. Journalists and human rights defenders have been targeted for highlighting violations of rights.”
Furthermore, the comprehensive conclusions of the report are eye-opening to the current frightfully appalling and desperate situation faced by communities in the province.
“The HRCP fact-finding mission found the situation in Balochistan to be extremely precarious.”
In conclusion, the HRCP noted that of the concerns “highlighted after a fact-finding mission to Balochistan in 2009 remain unresolved and in many instances there has been a marked deterioration. The mission also noted new and more alarming violations of human rights in 2011.”
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Summarised below, the key findings of the report were:
1. Agents of the state, insurgents and extremists operating in the province share a common disregard for rights of the citizens.
2. Enforced disappearances continue to be reported from all parts of the province. Little progress has been made in ensuring the release of a large number of missing persons and the Commission set up to investigate the cases of enforced disappearance has been largely ineffective.
3. In a new and worrying trend mutilated bodies of victims of enforced disappearance have started turning up by the roadside and in desolate places.
4. All authority in the province seems to vest with the security forces which enjoy complete impunity.
5. The civil administration, elected by the people and meant to represent them, appears to have ceded its powers. The security forces in Balochistan do not consider themselves answerable or accountable to the political government or judiciary, nor feel compelled to cooperate with the civil administration.
6. There is an acute sense of fear in the province, in particular among those whose relatives have gone missing or have been released after their enforced disappearance. People are hesitant to pursue the cases for fear that other members of their family might be targeted.
7. Targeted killings on the basis of ethnicity and belief are rampant. Those targeted include professionals such as teachers and doctors, as well as traders.
8. No effort has been made to promote harmony and reconciliation among the communities.
9. Human rights defenders and political activists have been targeted for no reason other than for raising their voice for people’s rights and exposing violations of human rights.
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UNPO notes the continuing deterioration of the Human Rights situation in Balochistan to be of upmost concern to the international community and emphasises the need for action by the former in cooperation with Pakistani state to solve a currently desperate and critical situation.
Click here to access the full HRCP Balochistan Report 2011