The Unsafe Political Activists of Balochistan

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The Balochistan Post Report
By Behzad Deedag Baloch
 
The ethnic Pashtuns are under protest across Pakistan and Afghanistan against the custodial murder of Arman Luni, a central leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement(Pashtun Defence Movement), in Loralai district of Balochistan at the beginning of this month. PTM has, however, declared itself a non-violent rights movement since day one but they still have failed to avoid state violence against them.
 
Murder of a political leader like Arman, was not first of its kind in Balochistan, as several journalists, teachers and political activists have been killed before by the state-sponsored killers or state’s very own machinery. Thousands of such activists and sympathizers are also missing after being abducted by the infamous ‘men in plain clothes’.
 
Among the high profile political murders by the hand of Pakistan’s military are the murders of Chairman of Baloch National Movement Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, Renowned scholar and thinker Professor Saba Dashtyar and Baloch Students Organization(Azad)’s secretary-general Raza Jahangir, whereas, other student leaders like Zahid Baloch and Zakir Majeed Baloch are missing after being abducted by the secret agencies—hundreds among the missing persons have returned in form of mutilated dead bodies.
 
Owing to such condition in Balochistan and finding no means of peaceful struggle there, many members of Political parties and rights activists left the country as they felt threatened inside it and chose to live in exile in Western countries, Gulf and in Afghanistan. However, they were not left alone, their families were continuously threatened and attacked back at home, which made it impossible for them to ever return.
 
One of such activists is Rashid Hussain s/o Deedar Hussain, who was living in exile in UAE and had seen dozens of his companions being abducted and killed back at home, including his 14-year-old cousin Majeed Zehri by the hands of Pakistan’s secret agencies. Young Majeed’s father, Ramzan Zehri was also target killed by the same hired men, who later took over all his businesses and the house in Khuzdar with the help of army to make an example out of him for others who sought to struggle for their rights.
 
Ramzan’s family was forced to leave the country and live in UAE. Soon, finding it difficult to live in Balochistan due to the continuous threats to his life, Rashid too left the country in 2017 and started living in exile along with his cousin in UAE.However, he was not going to live in peace for a long time.
On 26th December 2018, Rashid Hussain was traveling to Dubai from Sharjah along with his cousins when they were stopped by two vehicles and the men in them introduced themselves as secret police of UAE and took Rashid with them and since then Rashid is missing. He was only seen after the three days of his arrest-styled-abduction when UAE forces raided at his house in Dubai and searched the whole apartment asking for his Passport, according to the family, Rashid was with them, tied in chains.
Hafeez Baloch, Rashid’s cousin in the UAE, told TBP that after failing in confiscating the passport of Rashid, they left and took Rashid with them again.
 
“We searched him in every police station and they told us that Rashid was not with them nor he had any complaint against him but the way secret police was searching for his passport, we fear that they will illegally extradite him to Pakistan without running a trial in UAE. Rashid’s life would be ended once they extradite him, Pakistan will kill him like his other cousins”, added Hafeez.
 
The news of his abduction also sent a wave of shock among the Baloch population living in Gulf and in Balochistan. A hashtag #ReleaseRashidHussain was widely used on social media by Baloch masses who demand the release of Mr. Rashid and requested that he should not be deported to Pakistan. Moreover, a petition regarding the illegal arrest and potential illegal extradition of Mr. Rashid was started by a Hong Kong-based rights organization, which has received more than 2000 signings on it so far.
 
While talking to Latif Baloch, an active member of World Baloch Organization(WBO), who was also forced to live in exile, told TBP that Balochs have a historical relation with Arabs and they never worked against Arab interests unlike Pakistan, who not just works against their interests but make them do their dirty work.
 
“A Baloch activist’s arrest in UAE is not just against the Emirate’s laws but also against the human rights”, added Mr. Latif.
 
TBP also reached to another exiled Baloch political leader, Mr. Hakeem Wadhela, who now is the Zonal president of Baloch National Movement(BNM) in the UK, told us that if Rashid was deported to Pakistan it would mean that none of the Baloch political activists is safe in exile.
 
“It is not just a gross human rights violation but against the article 3rd of convention against torture, which states that no one should be deported to a country where he could be killed or tortured”, added Mr. Wadhela.
 
Regarding the issue, BNM’s information secretary, Mr. Dilmurad said that it is a test case for Pakistan, if they pass the test and succeed in extraditing a Baloch political activist, it would leave everyone unsafe who once left their country for safety.
 
“Baloch political workers do not leave their country to acquire some personal luxury or personal satisfaction, but they leave the country for a cause, they do not want their lives wasted for anything but they want to continue struggling for the rights of their people and it should be our obligation to raise voice for Rashid Baloch”, he added.
 
Balochistan has witnessed an armed conflict between Pakistan’s forces since decades and Baloch armed groups, who often claim responsibilities for the attacks with the justification that Pakistan had closed all the peaceful means of struggle to them which forced them to adapt to the violent version of Politics, i.e, armed struggle.
 
However, many political activists leave the country and peacefully struggle for the rights of their nation even living in exile, but Rashid’s case depicts that Pakistan is trying to close that door of peaceful struggle too on them, which might force activists like Rashid to shun peaceful struggle in future.