Enforced disappearances in Balochistan, Sindh discussed


Author of ‘The Baloch who is not missing and others who are’ Mohammed Hanif speaking at the event organized by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at the Arts Council on Wednesday evening.—White Star

Author of ‘The Baloch who is not missing and others who are’ Mohammed Hanif speaking at the event organized by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at the Arts Council on Wednesday evening.—White Star

by Peerzada Salman

KARACHI: Speakers highlighted the issues related to the missing Baloch persons with reference to writer Mohammed Hanif’s book ‘The Baloch who is not missing and others who are’ at an event organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) at the Arts Council on Wednesday evening.

The programme began with the screening of a BBC documentary on the subject.

بہت بڑے مسئلے پر چھوٹی سی کتاب


HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf, who moderated the event, spoke first. She briefly talked about Hanif’s book in which six cases of enforced disappearances in Balochistan had been discussed. She argued that the issue had spread to other provinces, such as Sindh, where nationalist leaders were picked up and tortured by the agencies. She mentioned the names of Safdar Sirki, Akash Mallah and Muzaffar Bhutto. Muzaffar Bhutto’s body was found in May last year. In September 2012, a UN working group came to Pakistan to assess the situation and presented recommendations before the United Nations Human Rights Council. One of the recommendations was that impunity with regard to enforced disappearances (that is, people picked up at will and tortured) should be considered a crime. Sadly, the visit was not followed by any action by the government. Then in October the UNHRC came up with 123 recommendations to improve the human rights situation in Pakistan and Pakistan accepted 122 of them. The one which the government did not accept was to do with ‘halt military operation aimed at silencing dissent in Balochistan’.

Mohammed Hanif said it was an ongoing tale (kahani) and in fact was repeated on a daily basis in Balochistan. He said journalist Abdul Razzaq Baloch was recently picked up from Lyari. He told the audience that those who thought the state of affairs could not be imagined were not right. It could be imagined: we only had to put ourselves in the shoes of those who had lost their child, their brother or other close relatives.

Farzana Majeed, whose brother Zakir Majeed has been missing for the past four years, said she had been organising protest demonstrations and had also been to the Supreme Court, but to no avail. “Iss riyasat mein insaaniat naam ki cheez nahin [there is no humanity in this state],” she remarked. Four years was a significant time period, she said, asking the audience to imagine how they would feel if their brother had been kept in a torture cell for four years.

She became a little critical of human rights organisations for not taking action and then criticised her own people (some of whom were in the hall) for their behaviour. She argued Punjabis were not one of them but the real problem lay with the Baloch people: they should realise the gravity of the matter. She informed the audience that recently four students were abducted from Naseerabad.

Jan Mohammad Buledi lauded Hanif for writing the book but said it couldn’t fully portray the pain (dard) that the Baloch were experiencing. Claiming that he himself had received and buried tortured bodies, he said the problem had become the gravest that Pakistani society was faced with. In a span of two-and-a-half years, 500 students had been murdered, he added. Some of them were kept in torture cells and then their bodies were dumped to be buried, Mr Buledi said.

He said there was no gunshot wound visible on their bodies, because the victims were strangled with some kind of a wire. He emphasised that if those who were torturing people to death thought that’s how they were doing their duty, they must know that such acts would only widen the gulf between them and the Baloch.

Mohammed Hanif drew the attention of the audience towards the role of the media. He said the media did not cover the Balochistan situation the way it merited and confused the whole issue by claiming that unidentified men were behind the abductions and killings.

He said journalist Abdul Razzaq Baloch was recently picked from Lyari but no TV crew went to his place to investigate his disappearance.

He said the Balochistan government had given names of some military officers to the Supreme Court so that warrants could be issued against them, but nothing happened. Before that the Supreme Court used to summon the chief secretary and the police chief of the province to inquire about the case of the missing persons. The administration and the judiciary were asking each other and in the meantime precious lives were being lost, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, a sister of Abdul Razzaq Baloch said her brother was picked up on March 24 but the police hadn’t filed any FIR to date. She requested those on the stage to tell her the way out (raasta kia hai). She said Razzaq had three daughters and a son and if he’s guilty of any crime he should be put on trial, not taken away.

Replying to a question, Hanif said the army did not always react in a rational manner.

Hasil Bizenjo, who was in the audience, said what happened in East Pakistan in 1971 was forgotten immediately. Today, he said, the Jamaat-i-Islami’s people were being tried in Bangladesh for killing Bengalis.

When Hasil Bizenjo stepped out of the hall for a few minutes, Farzana Majid criticised him for leaving the venue. She said it had to be taken into consideration as to why only certain Baloch people were picked up and others were not.

Courtesy by: DAWN.COM

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