Coming Home To Conflict By Hiba Fatima Khan
factor that hampers the case of missing persons in Balochistan and that is the blackout of Balochistan from the mainstream media.
The issue of missing people has assumed alarming dimensions in Balochistan.
The story too is missing in the mainstream media
In her home on Saryab Road, Quetta, the frail and ailing mother of Hafiz Saeedur Rehman is waiting for her son to return. Her wait isn’t about to be over, despite the passage of eight long years. (Hafiz went missing on July 4, 2003.)
“My mother is completely shattered; she doesn’t want to live any longer,” says her daughter Saima, torn with grief.
Saeed’s family was able to register a complaint about his disappearance with the local police after a delay of two weeks.
The young sister of Saeed has joined the agitation camp set up for the recovery of missing persons with the hope that her voice may be heard by those at the helm of affairs.
The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) – an organisation that was formed to raise the issue of ‘forced disappearances’ in the province – claims that the number of missing persons from Balochistan runs in thousands. “About 300 mutilated dead bodies have been found in Balochistan, and of the 8,000 Baloch missing, we have collected complete record of 1500,” says Nasrullah Baloch, Chairman VBMP. We are protesting peacefully against the Baloch disappearances and urge the human rights organisations to take notice of the pathetic situation in Balochistan.
Before the human rights organisations, there is another factor that hampers the case of missing persons in Balochistan and that is the blackout of Balochistan from the mainstream media. Those who are protesting against the disappearances must go to Islamabad or Karachi to force the mainstream to take note of their plight. Journalists based in Balochistan find it increasingly difficult to report what’s happening on the ground.
Regarding the missing persons, the most effective story to have emerged and widely read in recent days is by celebrated author and journalist Mohammed Hanif in a mainstream paper. In the piece ‘The Baloch who is not missing’ for Dawn.com, he begins the story thus “In the last week of November 2011, Qadeer Baloch, a retired UBL employee from Quetta did something that no grandfather should have to do. He held his four and a half year old grandson’s hand and took him to see his son Jalil Reki’s mutilated bullet-riddled body and made sure the kid got a good look at it. Qadeer Baloch also had a chat with the boy and told him who had killed his father and why”.
Hanif had spoken to Qadeer Baloch in Karachi. But Hanif was most effective and potent.
Back in Quetta though, rubbishing the figures produced by the VBMP, the home department of Balochistan maintains that only 148 applications have been received for the recovery of the missing persons of which 43 have got back home. A commission comprising members of the concerned departments and joint task force has been constituted for the recovery of the rest of the missing persons. “About 100 such cases have been resolved, and only 48 are pending,” claims provincial home secretary Naseebullah Bazai, while talking to TNS.
The issue of missing people has assumed alarming dimensions in Balochistan. The Baloch nationalists groups are now demanding the government to produce before the court of law those involved in criminal activities.
Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Senior Vice President of National Party, who has been waging a war for the Baloch rights through political means, says Balochistan has two burning issues: “missing persons and mutilated dead bodies. Unless these issues are resolved, no constitutional or economic package will put down the fire.”
He also says that such issues should be resolved on priority basis, “before it’s too late”