Missing Persons and Akhtar Mengal’s Six Points
The Balochistan Post Report
Author: Behzad Deedag Baloch
After victory of PTI in general elections, the section of society that desired change in Pakistan are expecting it to be delivered. However, this notion failed to reach Balochistan and instead the events of previous elections were repeated. Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) won the majority seats in Balochistan, as had been predicted by political pundits. This party, which was only formed few months before the elctions, is almost fully comprised of electables who have been part of almost all government formations in Balochistan. Before the elections, the rival political parties had dubbed BAP as the ‘king’s party’ backed by the state establishment.
On other hand, like previous elections, the general elections were fully boycotted by Baloch nationalist organisations. Pro-independence Baloch armed groups carried out several attacks on the election proceedings. This resulted in a very low turnout in many parts of Balochistan.
The only variation in this election was the defeat of National Party, who had previously formed government after 2013 elections. They did not even manage to secure a single seat in the provincial legislative assembly. On the other hand Balochistan National Party (BNP), headed by Akhtar Mengal, won 9 provincial seats and 4 national assembly seats. People who wanted change expected Akhtar Mengal and his party to deliver this change.
After victory, BNP adopted an uncompromising policy and refused to become part of the provincial government, citing ethical grounds. In national assembly they also opted to follow an independent approach and agreed to support PTI’s government formation only if six points put forward by BNP were accepted. PTI finally submitted to BNP’s demands.
The most important point in these demands was the issue of enforced disappearances, which is one of the biggest grievances of people of Balochistan. BNP demanded recovery of all missing persons. Many commended Akhtar Mengal for including this demand in his six points. With time, some of the missing persons were even released. Some circles praise Akhtar Mengal and BNP for this development.
However, has the long-running dilemma of Balochistan finally neared a solution? What are the true facts on the ground? The Balochistan Post investigated the ground realities, which portray a different and very grim situation. In order to portray a glimpse of the realities, TBP presents the below verified facts and figures of just last week in this report.
In last one week, at least 13 missing persons were surfaced. These recoveries have been accredited to Akhtar Mengal’s six points and the agreement with PTI. However, it has totally been ignored under what law these missing persons were under incommunicado detention for such long periods of time?
On 18 September three missing persons were released, which include Abdullah s/o Abdul Majeed, Wajoo s/o Abdul Yaqoob, who are both residents of Tump. Similarly Barkat Baloch who hails from Awaran was also released on the same day.
On 14 September, three missing persons from Nokjo, Mashkay were released. These include Mengal s/o Nabi Baksh, Siraj s/o Abdul Sattar and Rasheed s/o Rehmat.
On 12 September, seven missing persons, who had been abducted during different military raids, were handed over to the Police in Panjgur. These include Abdul Hameed s/o Mohammad Hussain, Hassan s/o Umait Ali, Abdul Rasheed s/o Gul Mohammad, Mohammad Saeed s/o Mohammad Kareem, Naveed s/o Haji Iqbal, Siraj s/o Imam Uddin and Abdul Qudoos s/o Noor Baksh.
The recovery of these missing persons is a great news for the family. But is this going to fully resolve the human tragedy that has been caused due to enforced disappearances in Balochistan. The ground realities unfortunately refute these expectations. Just in last one week 48 persons including one woman have been disappeared in front of eyewitnesses during military raids. In simple mathematical terms, almost 4 times more people have been confirmed to be missing compared to the missing persons that have been released in last one week.
The largest number of people who went missing in one raid was from Dasht in Kech on 15 September. At least 12 persons were arrested and taken to undisclosed location in this raid. These forcibly disappeared persons were identified as 70-year-old Peer Baksh s/o Dost Mohammad, 60-year-old Gaaji s/o Ibrahim, Hashim s/o Haji Deen Mohammed, Muhasib s/o Qadir Dad, Abdullah s/o Sher Mohammad, two brothers Naeem and Naseem s/o Barkat and Abdul Rasool and his three sons Adnan, Yasir and minor Parvez. The identification of 12th person is yet to be ascertained.
In a similar military operation in Noshki, at least eleven young persons were disappeared from a picnic point called Zangi Nawar. The images of these persons were also released to the media by state authorities. However, when their families approached the local administration this week for information regarding their loved ones, the authorities refused to admit detention of these persons. It is not known where these persons have been held.
In another incident, on 17 September, four persons went missing after Pakistani forces detained them during a raid in Sholeeg, Dasht. These persons were identified as Akhtar s/o Haji Mohammad, Zahid s/o Allah Baksh, Allah Baksh /so Haji Nabi Baksh and Yaseen s/o Haji Nabi Baksh. On the same day a man named Waheed s/o Abdul Raheem was disappeared from Dasht Haor.
Similarly, on 13 September three persons, identified as Jaffar s/o Mohamamd Anwar, Adeel s/o Nasir and Akeel s/o Ameer Baksh were disappeared from Bulaida Salo Kaor.
Disappearances have continued on daily basis in other parts of Balochistan too. On 11 September, Abdain s/o Hamza and Aqeel s/o Rehmat ullah were disappeared from Jeebri, Mashkay. On 12 September, Illahi baksh s/o Allah Baksh from Hoshab and on 13 September Naseem s/o Saleh Mohammad from Kech went missing. On 14 September Tahir and his brother Jamal s/o Fateh Mohamad were disappeared from Washuk, whereas, Maula Baksh s/o Kahuda Abdullah was taken away by forces from Daschain on the same day.
On 16 September, Shaho was arrested and subsequently disappeared from Mand. On 18 September, two persons were disappeared from Darenjan in Dera Bugti, whereas, a women was abducted from Chapar in Kalat. She was identified as daughter of Mohammad Azam Sumalani.
In another incident, seven persons were disappeared from Bulaida in Sorap. They were identified as Abdul Ghafoor, Waheed Baloch, Jameel Baloch s/o Dost Mohammad Baloch, Fazil Baloch, Murad Jan Baloch, Noora Baloch s/o Safar Baloch and his son.
These facts and figures, which have been confirmed from reliable sources, are only from one week. The Baloch political organisations claim the real number of missing persons is much high as most of the families fail to reach the media. Several other families refrain from reporting the incidents altogether due to threats of harm to loved ones
The Balochistan Post spoke to a senior Baloch analyst who, on condition of anonymity, told TBP: ‘the only change that we witness in Balochistan is the increase in number of disappearances and killings. The main reason Akhtar Mengal’s six points were taken on board was to release few missing persons and use it as a stunt so that the issue is buried under the media hype. In reality the disappearances have been further escalated. Previously they used to disappear five people, now that has been increased to seven. Two of these are later released to hide the disappearance of the other five.’
He further added that if state accepted that it will surface the missing persons than it automatically amounts to admittance by the state that it was party to these extrajudicial disappearances and murders. ‘This is simple violation of basic human rights and the international authorities should interfere in this situation,’ he told TBP.
The conditions in Balochistan continue to worsen and the number of enforced disappearances increase with each coming day, which points towards a distressing existence of a human rights calamity.
Within just a month after elections, it has become crystal clear that whether it is Imran Khan’s revolution or Akhtar Mengal’s six points, nothing has the capacity to change the power structure in Balochistan.