People from Pakistan’s troubled southwestern Balochistan province have marched over 2,000 kilometres to Islamabad to demand their political rights and civil liberties.
ISLAMABAD: People from Pakistan’s troubled southwestern Balochistan province have marched to Islamabad to demand that their voices be heard.
They began their walk last year and have travelled more than 2,000 kilometres to reach the capital, seeking basic political rights and civil liberties.
Many of them are determined to let the world know about the suffering of the people of Balochistan since the creation of the country in 1947.
The group is spearheaded by a 72-year-old man who claims that his son was abducted and killed by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.
“My son’s only crime was that he was a political activist. He was the central information secretary of the Baloch Republican Party and he used to demand his political rights,” said Mama Qadeer Baloch, leader of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons.
The group says that many people were illegally detained by the country’s security forces or intelligence agencies. They do not know where these people are or whether they are still alive.
“We have no hope left in the government or the judicial system of the country. As for the agencies, they are against us. They are our enemies. They have always disappointed us and it is useless to talk to them. We have no expectations of them,” said Qadeer.
Over the years, Balochistan has witnessed a surge in nationalist sentiment and many factions in the province have been fighting to break away from Pakistan.
However, the plight of the people in Balochistan has been ignored and Mama Qadeer Baloch wants to change that.
He has presented a four-page charter of demands at a United Nations office in Islamabad. In it, he tells the story of the Baloch people and how they have been treated by the Pakistan government over the years.
Despite plans by the authorities to develop the region by establishing an economic corridor between the provincial port city of Gwadar and China, simmering anger is likely to remain.
The government may not be able to implement the corridor as long as the situation remains volatile in Balochistan.