Mass Graves In Baluchistan
Baluchistan has a long history of insurgency with nationalist groups and locals advocating greater autonomy. The Baluchistan 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 Baluch people remain economically marginalized and receive little or
no benefit from the Baluchistan economy. In its efforts to counter the Baluch 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 anddeathsincustodywitheachpassingday. Although,thehumanrights violations are equally attributable to both the Pakistani army and the Baluch nationalist rebels, it is the Pakistani state which is largely responsible for the continuing violence and attack against the Baluchistan 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 above was once again proved by the discovery of mass graves in Khuzdar district of Baluchistan on January 25, 2014. Locals claim that the mass graves contain at least 169 bodies of victims of mass-scale enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. The confirmation by government officials that over one dozen bullet-riddled bodies have been dumped in unmarked graves — many of them considered to be mass graves — in Baluchistan has exposed the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the security forces over the years in a bid to suppress a popular uprising against the government.
More than an iota of suspicion is being raised against the alleged role of Pakistan security agencies. The town from where these graves have been discovered is the stronghold of Shafiq Mengal, an ultra-religious tribal strongman connected to the Pakistani intelligence agencies. He was empowered by the State in order to counter and replace the local influence of Baluch nationalists. Shafiq has remained infamous in the area as a strongman of the Pakistani agencies who is involved in kidnapping and murder of Baluch political activists
and civilians. He reportedly heads the anti-nationalist outfit, the Baluch Musla-Defai Tanzeem that has claimed responsibility in the local media for hundreds of killings of Baluch nationalists, journalists and human rights activists.
The Pakistani establishment made a brazen attempt to underplay the magnitude of the human rights violations in Baluchistan by arguing that the total number of bodies to just 15. Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission, HRCP, disputes the government’s figures and links the discovery of the graves to the ongoing Baluchistan conflict between the separatists and Islamabad. The Voice for the Baluch Missing Persons (VBMP), an organization made up of relatives of the missing people, is currently undertaking a “long march” from
the southeastern Karachi city to capital Islamabad to protest against the disappearances. The Voice for Baluch Missing Persons has the details of 8,000 people who have disappeared over the past ten years, and haven’t been seen since. On February 3, 2010, female members of the Voice for Baluch Missing Persons (VBMP) held a protest rally in Karachi to condemn the discovery of the mass graves.
The mainstream Pakistani media chose to maintain a silence on the discovery of mass graves in Baluchistan. Even those reports from mainstream media that came out were vague, distorted, and full of contradictions. Such reports mentioned how government officials have accused an Indian intelligence agency for killing the Baluchs and burying them there to slander the Pakistanis agencies as if the agencies were already very popular with the local community. This positioning is in direct contradiction to their previous posturing where the Pakistan officials, without any proof whatsoever, have blamed India for supporting Baluch seperatists. Now the Indians are being blamed for killing the people they supported as per earlier claims!
The response of the international community to these findings has been subdued so far. The western aiders to Pakistan including Britain (which pays approximately 250 million pound to Pakistani state each year) have failed to pressure Pakistan to respect human rights in Baluchistan. America continues to give to Pakistan billions of dollars in aid, which is then turned around to generate more hatred towards the West and produce more jihadi terrorists. The U.S. is giving the same Pakistan army another pass as it carries out the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Baluch people from their homeland. However within the US, a section of the political spectrum has taken cognizance of the severity of the human rights violations in Baluchistan. Louis Gohmert, the current US Republican representative from Texas’s First Congressional District in the US Parliament session on 30 January 2014 drew the attention of the house to the mass graves in Baluchistan by citing an article. He also mocked the silence of John Kerry, the US secretary of State for his silence on the grave issue.
Observers of Baluchistan argue that only an investigation conducted by credible organizations sauch as the United Nations, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and similar international bodies known for their reliability will be acceptable. In addition, the international community must play their role in bringing the people behind these crimes to justice and ensure that justice be finally meted out to the struggling people of Baluchistan.