A ‘political government’ is too lofty a word for the set-up that is subservient to the wishes of the army and FC and does not even have the spine to condemn the very recent killing of seven Bugtis
Dr Abdul Malik claims his government is developing a ‘Balochistan Strategy Paper’ to outline political and economic problems and suggest remedies. If nothing else, it will certainly devote a special chapter to methods for creating smokescreens and pretexts for the continuing ‘dirty war’ against the Baloch, which has already claimed more than 700 victims in the last three years. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) mission, headed by Asma Jehangir, recently visited Balochistan and as if to thumb their nose at HRCP, the security forces massacred Bugtis near Sui. Asma Jehangir talking to the press said, “While the HRCP was in Balochistan, seven young men were picked up from Mathh area of Dera Bugti by the FC, and subsequently summarily executed. Reportedly, their mothers were callously told to take a good look at the faces of their sons, as that would be their last opportunity to do so.” She also said: “The security forces and the intelligence agencies will hurt the democratic process and further alienate people from the state if they continue with their oppressive policies. Law and order is dismal. Citizens are living in perpetual fear. They have no security of life and indignity at the hands of the security forces is routine.” Regarding sectarian killings, she said: “Sectarian militants operate with impunity.”
The HRCP mission rightly believes that the security forces and the intelligence agencies hurt the democratic process and further alienate people but they overlooked another aspect that a Daily Times editorial (June 28, 2013) articulated very succinctly. It said, “The burning down of the Ziarat Residency, where Mohammad Ali Jinnah spent his final days, received nationwide attention and condemnation, with some people demanding that steps be taken to bring the culprits to justice and to rebuild the Residency. What about bringing to book those who have tortured, killed and dumped Baloch citizens and have made many more simply vanish? What about rebuilding the entire province of Balochistan by ensuring that such crimes against humanity do not occur?” Expression of selective outrage is literally outrageous.
The HRCP mission’s wish list includes the law enforcement and intelligence agencies functioning within their stipulated parameters because they feel that “Targeted killings, the issue of missing persons and violation of fundamental human rights have badly damaged the peace of Balochistan and made it difficult for the people to live here peacefully.” The mission has also asked the Sarmachars (insurgents) to trust the incumbent political government giving them specific time for the resolution of issues.
The human rights abuses of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies have repeatedly been exposed by the HRCP and Human Rights Watch (HRW) but to no avail. The HRCP’s report, “Blinkered slide into chaos” or HRW’s well documented report, “We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years” on enforced disappearances by the security forces in Balochistan were rejected as a ‘pack of lies’ by the army, Frontier Corps and the government. This HRCP mission report too will be dismissed similarly. The United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (WGEID) was largely ignored during its September 2012 visit because of the uncomfortable questions the delegates would ask. Expecting the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to metamorphose into angels at the exhortation of human rights bodies is wishing for utopia.
The other wish, asking the Baloch Sarmachars to trust the incumbent political government, is like asking them to sign their own death warrants. A ‘political government’ is too lofty a word for the set-up that is subservient to the wishes of the army and FC and does not even have the spine to condemn the very recent killing of seven, some say eight, Bugtis. These so-called political governments wield no power in deciding Balochistan’s affairs; they simply rubber stamp what the establishment orders them to. That the establishment decides and the spineless government executes the decision is the stark reality of Balochistan.
Nothing has been done for the 200,000 Baloch displaced since 2005 who are living in pathetic conditions in different places. A 55-day-long protest in the federal capital led by the grandson of late Nawab Akbar Bugti has only got promises. Dr Malik recently sat with the protestors of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) and Mama Qadeer, whose son Jaleel Reiki is no longer missing. This protest will be 1,193 days old today, and no one has heeded their demand. The only thing that they act on with alacrity is retaining amnesty for their smuggled non-custom paid vehicles, which seemed in jeopardy after the Islamabad High Court’s decision to withdraw the amnesty.
My advice to the perpetually persecuted Hazaras, Shia and Hindus in Balochistan is they should not lower their guard by pinning hopes on false promises being churned out that the new provincial and federal set-ups are the panacea of all problems because not only the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali refuses to condemn the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and others of its ilk, in a TV talk show he said that the death of Waliur Rehman, a senior leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was a great setback and demanded why the man who favoured peace talks with Pakistan was targeted. For them there are good and bad Taliban; however, the Taliban bombs cannot be categorised similarly as all are equally destructive. As long as retaining of ‘strategic assets’ remains the cornerstone of the establishment’s policy, no one except those in bulletproof vehicles will be safe.
The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26 passed by without any hope for the missing persons presently in the establishment’s custody; the International Day of the Disappeared observed every August 30 brings no change. The establishment is heedless. Pakistan is a very torture-friendly place as torture is not illegal and is brazenly practised as bodies of the Baloch victims of the establishment and its proxies-conducted dirty war prove and as the Adiala 11 affair demonstrates. All bodies of the abducted Baloch bore marks of inhuman torture, which means all the thousands of missing persons are experiencing torture in the establishment’s Gitmos. The HRCP wants the Baloch to trust this establishment and its installed dummy political government in Balochistan. The fate of Zakir Majeed, Bahar Khan, Ali Khan, Akbar Marri and thousands of others is unknown, and how can the families, whose sons and brothers are missing, and millions who have been persecuted and deprived for 64 years be expected to put faith in Dr Malik and a brutal establishment? Their promises are but mirages and illusions.
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at [email protected]