Baluchistan: Missing Persons and the Question of Impunity

Countries with terrible human rights get on the UNHRC to protect themselves against being investigated, not to make change for betterment of human kind.

By: Juma Baloch

A day doesn’t go by without news coming from Baluchistan of Baloch people are being enforcedly disappeared by Pakistani state intelligence agencies, and this is not a recent phenomenon.

Baloch people and the situation of ‘missing person’ (as the enforced disappeared persons are called in Pakistan), go long back in the 70’s when the so-called democratic government of Z.A Bhutto’s was on the helm of the Pakistan state. But since the fifth wave of Baloch rights movement erupted in the late 90’s Pakistan stated to use this dirty war tactic in an epidemic proportion to crush it.

Balochistan’s landscape has been changed by Pakistan Army with dotted check posts spread all over the length and breadth of it. These check post are used to restrict movement and creating fear among common people.

In the early days of the Baloch rights uprising, intelligence agencies used to raid houses of prominent Baloch activists, they arrested them in the presence of their family, then later deny their detention. Whereabouts and legal status of these activists remained in limbo and their name were added to a long list of “Missing Persons”. Many of these missing persons were later found, but dead, their mutilated body were dumped at desolate places, this dirty policy of Pakistan was later called “Kill and Dump” by human rights activist.

When the international bodies (UN human rights council) who are responsible to look after the week, vulnerable, minorities and state less nations kept silent on the deplorable human rights condition in Balochistan, it gave an encouragement to Pakistani rulers that they can continue with their policies in Balochistan.

Pakistan has not only continued its policy of “enforced disappearances” ruthlessly against Baloch activists in Balochistan but common Baloch also became victims of its wrath. Pakistan army check post in Balochistan became points of abduction. The youths from entire villages were rounded up and taken away in the name of so-called search operations and these young Baloch boys were never seen again. Lately Pakistani army is not sparing woman, children or elderly in their search operation. It has been reported in social media (as the media have been denied excess in Balochistan by Pakistan army) on 5th June 2018 the Pakistan army burnt down a village of 100 houses in Awaran and 150 woman, children and elderly occupants of the entire village were taken way.

Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) a non-profit rights organization consisting of families of Baloch missing persons have exhausted all the possible legal and peaceful way to recover their missing love ones. From local police stations to Supreme Court and Commission for Missing Persons made by the legislators, they knocked at every governmental institution seeking information about their love ones but failed.  They organized press conference, seminars, demonstrations, sit-ins, token hunger strike (which has continued for 3100 days now). They also met a fact find mission of UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) which came to Pakistan for 10 days in September 2012. They embarked on the longest “long march” ever in the history of South Asia. The walk started from Quetta on 27 October 2013 via Karachi to Islamabad. After 106 days and covering a distance of nearly 2700 Km they reached Islamabad on 28th February- 1st March 2014 to meet UN representative in Pakistan. The result of all this struggle have come to nothing.

The current situation of enforced disappearances in Pakistan have reached an epidemic proportion. Not only the Baloch, Sindhi and the Pashtun nationalist are subjected to involuntary disappearances but people from Punjab are also being picked up by Pakistani state intelligence agencies and they have gone missing without any trace.

Despite such deplorable human rights records the civilized world have awarded Pakistan with a seat in UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on October 2017 and Pakistan will remain its member till end of 2020.

After securing two-third votes of the UN General Assembly for its bid to become a member of UNHRC, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said “Pakistan’s record of promoting and protecting human rights has been vindicating by this victory,” but the truth is countries with terrible human rights get on the UNHRC to protect themselves against being investigated, not to make change for betterment of human kind.

Now it should be clear to Baloch and other human rights activists in Pakistan why their cries have not been heard in the international chambers of human rights.

Just requesting or demanding UN to intervene and stop Pakistan abusing human rights of Baloch has not worked before and definitely will not be acknowledged by the Secretary-General of UN in the future. Criticism of these international bodies will not benefit us either.

We have to build a case against Pakistan’s abuse of human rights with legal documents and proper presentation that can be proven in an international court of justice. Even a tiny event should be explained in detail with all the required data, like a chain every event should be attached with another event so a pattern of Pakistan’s crimes emerges.

History has proven, once the world show its back to a country its new and old crimes are dig up and its rulers will be punished accordingly.

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