Letters about ‘missing person’ Wahid Baloch reached authorities but weren’t received: HRCP

Wahid Baloch family at KPC

“We’ll try one more time and request the authorities to make the arrest of Wahid Baloch legal.”

Saher Baloch

KARACHI: Letters sent to the higher authorities by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) inquiring about the disappearance of publisher and activist Abdul Wahid Baloch have returned to its Karachi office without being received.

This was said by Vice Chairperson of the HRCP’s Sindh chapter, Asad Iqbal Butt, during a press conference held by Mr Baloch’s family at the press club here on Wednesday.

“After forming a fact-finding mission, we sent several letters to the law enforcement authorities. Strangely, all the letters came back to us. And we eventually found out that the letters had reached the authorities but were not received by them,” he said.

Accompanied by Mr Baloch’s daughters Hani and Maheen, Mr Butt spoke at the press conference after Ms Hani gave details of her father’s disappearance.

According to her, on July 26, Wahid Baloch, a telephone operator at the Civil Hospital Karachi, was coming to Karachi from Digri in Mirpurkhas district after meeting friends and attending an event. His friend, Sabir Ali Sabir, a poet, was travelling with him along with his two children.

Ms Hani said that the van in which the two men were travelling back was stopped at the Superhighway toll plaza by two men in plain clothes. “They asked for Mr Sabir’s identity card and after checking something on their mobile phone handed the ID back to him. Then they asked for Wahid Baloch’s card. After checking something on their phone again, they asked him to step out with his baggage. Before leaving with Mr Baloch in a blue Vigo, they asked the van driver to speed away,” said Ms Hani.

When the family approached the Gadap police station, situated right next to the toll plaza, for lodging an FIR, police refuse to register the case, Ms Hani said.

“We were told that the intelligence agencies had picked up my father and police can’t do much about it,” she said. “A police officer asked us to wait for 90 days for my father to return.”

This piece of information was corroborated by Mr Butt who said, “We had difficulty reaching out to the authorities, particularly police, as they refused to get involved in the matter.”

After much insistence, police wrote the incident on a piece of paper and handed it to the family, Ms Hani said.

On the basis of that paper, and a letter from the CHK administration, acknowledging that Mr Baloch is an employee at the hospital, the family filed a petition in the Sindh High Court on Aug 2. “We demanded that if Wahid Baloch has done something wrong, he should be brought before the court of law,” said Mr Butt who, on behalf of the HRCP, helped with the process. A hearing is scheduled for Aug 15.

The HRCP formed the fact-finding mission on Aug 3 to investigate Mr Baloch’s disappearance. However, as Mr Butt said, the mission faced problems “in terms of getting to the authorities.”

Mr Butt said: “When political activists travel to cities and towns other than their own, it is only natural that they meet people and discuss issues concerning them.”

This hinted at reports corroborated by police and the HRCP representative himself that some Sindhi nationalists had met Mr Baloch while he was in Digri and discussed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other issues related to the region.

“Even if this is the case, it doesn’t make sense,” Mr Butt said. “The HRCP has often been accused by law enforcement authorities of not asking for their version. We’ll try one more time and request the authorities to make the arrest of Wahid Baloch legal.”

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2016

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