Platitudes Palmed Off As Justice Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The agony, angst and anguish of the victims and their relatives do not really come within the radar of the ‘all is well society’

Empty platitudes have never been and never will be an alternative to concrete positive actions and this holds true for all, including those seeking their rights

The misplaced euphoria in some circles about the recovery of some missing persons recently on the Supreme Court’s orders in Quetta obscured the larger problem and the real issue – namely, the accountability of those responsible for illegal abductions and killing of Baloch activists and making them pay for these crimes. This it seems was neither the intention nor the outcome of the recent hearings and orders. So the matters related to missing persons not only remain where they always have been but have increased the possibility of more brutality as can be seen from the torture that Khan Mohammad Marri suffered, who was abducted on March 26, 2012 from New Kahan and his body recovered on April 21, 2012.

The appearance and release of some Mazarani Marri tribesmen whose alarm ‘Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) Chairman Nasrullah Baloch had raised, as had I in my article ‘Three aims of the tyrant are…’ (Daily Times, March 11, 2012), is certainly welcome but no one responsible for their disappearance and misery has been charged. Justice demands that their abductors and the abductors and killers of hundreds before them be brought to book and be answerable for their atrocities. This it seems is not going to happen any time soon because the activities of the intelligence agencies, army and the Frontier Corps remain beyond the ambit of the Supreme Court.

The atmosphere of smug complacency that had set in after the missing Baloch people’s recovery has been shattered as the bodies of five abducted persons, Khan Mohammad Marri, Jehangir Baloch, Nadeem Baloch and Ghulam Nabi Baloch have been recovered from Pishin and Musakhel. Sona Khan Bangulzai’s body was recovered from Khuchlak area. Ironically, there has been no condemnation of these gruesome killings even by the Supreme Court, probably understanding its limitations more than others do.

The agony, angst and anguish of the victims and their relatives do not really come within the radar of the ‘all is well society’ here that has become accustomed to state-perpetrated violence. Acquiescence in state violence has dehumanised society and made it callous to the sufferings of others. The society’s compassion span is now limited to the headline flurry period. Hardly anyone now, the Supreme Court included, remembers the Adiyala 11, whose plight on sight killed a mother. The fervour died down and all forgot about them; the same is the case with the Baloch missing persons. Moreover, even relatives of the missing or dead persons, including Mama Qadeer Baloch, General Secretary of VBMP, protesting peacefully outside Press Clubs, are now being threatened.

Scolding the Inspector General of Police and stating, “There was no difference between a human being and animals in Balochistan where mutilated bodies are found on a daily basis” are good sound bytes but do not provide justice to the victims and their relatives devastated by atrocities. Platitudes are not an alternative to justice. Ironically, the Supreme Court does not notice that the police are terrified of mentioning the names of those responsible for the ‘dirty war’ against the Baloch. Missing people conveniently appear somewhere as if a benevolent angel, having had pity, transported them. This is a farce always enacted to obfuscate the real issue of state-sponsored terrorism and protecting the real culprits – the agencies.

Sadly, this passes for justice and no one is safe here because as long as institutions have the power to pick up and kill people with impunity, those dissenting can and will disappear to end up as a figure in the mounting list of abducted and killed persons. Justice demands that the who, what, why, where and when of the disappeared persons be fully exposed. Unfortunately, the institutions everywhere, but more so over here, cover the backs of erring institutions because eventually they all benefit from the survival of the system that fattens them. Until accountability without discrimination becomes the norm, platitudes will be palmed off as justice. Empty platitudes have never been and never will be an alternative to concrete positive actions and this holds true for all, including those seeking their rights.

The unaccountable remain unaccountable and accountability will remain a mere dream; had the Bangladesh atrocities culprits been punished, there would have had been no atrocities in Balochistan or Swat. An anecdote may illustrate this. “A cat fell into the village well and died. The villagers sought a sage’s advice. He advised draining a hundred bucketfuls for the water to become halal (clean); however, the stink persisted. Twice he advised the same but the water still stank to seventh heaven. Puzzled, he inquired if the dead cat had been taken out and received a negative reply. He explained that all draining was futile unless the basis was removed.” Here the institutionalised impunity to institutions to commit atrocities is the dead cat in the well and as long as this remains the case, more Baloch will disappear even if the Supreme Court camps permanently in Quetta.

The state and its institutions are wilfully carrying out atrocities as are their henchmen. Daily Ummat has printed a series of venom-spewing anti-Baloch nationalist articles and in one on April 23, Shafique Mengal has admitted killing nationalists and boasted about ransacking and looting the houses of Balaach Khan and Hayrbiyar Marri. The spokesperson for the chief minister had denied the news of ransacking of the houses.

Naturally, the more desperate the state becomes the more vicious it becomes; it tries to intimidate people with its brutality, as is apparent from the condition of Khan Mohammad Marri’s body and others, but it is absolutely mistaken on one count. It should understand that if the hundreds of tortured bodies and thousands of abductions have not dented the fighting spirit of the Baloch then nothing will. Four persons including Aslam Baloch were reported killed in an operation in Turbat on Friday. With each new atrocity, the resolve of people is strengthened and new recruits to the Baloch cause are inducted.

The Baloch too, if they want to have an impact on the course of the struggle, will have to rise above empty rhetoric and slogans, and devote their time studying history and different aspects of struggles around the world to conduct their struggle better. Good intentions alone are never a powerful enough tool unless combined with knowledge and application of that knowledge. Learning and teaching has to merge into the lives of Baloch activists if they want a special niche and mention in the annals of the history of successful struggles.

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]

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