The Counter Terrorism Department or CTD in Balochistan was introduced around 2010 after another police department CID was revamped. The new force was the brainchild of Pakistani military and had been implemented under National Action Plan or NAP. The force is sold as the most disciplined and efficient wing of the security apparatus. Its personnel receive training directly from Special Service Group, the Navy Seal or SAS equivalent of Pakistan Army. But in Balochistan the group is known as encounter specialists due to sheer number of fake encounters the group is involved in.
On 18th January 2021, Eagle Force of Balochistan Police claimed in a press conference that it had arrested two men after they failed to stop their bike during a routine checking. They were chased and arrested, and two hand grenades were found from their possession. Eagle Force said the “terrorists” were handed over to CTD.
These two young men around the age of 20 years were cousins Jameel and Sami Pirkani. They were produced before the court by CTD twice and legal proceedings were underway against them. Both youngsters maintained innocence and claimed they were being framed under fake charges.
Later on 7th March, CTD claimed that it has killed 5 Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) “terrorists” in a shootout near Mastung Balochistan. CTD said it was raiding a hideout, which was identified by two arrested terrorists, when BLA members opened fire upon the police. In exchange of fire five members of BLA, including the two arrested terrorists, were killed. These two “alleged terrorists” were detained cousins Jameel and Sami Pirkani, whereas the other three were identified as Arif Marri, Yousuf Marri and Shah Nazar.
However, something did not add up. All five persons were shot at point blank range in their heads and not a single personnel of CTD was killed or injured. TBP investigated the issue and found out not only Jameel and Sami but the other three were also under detention of Pakistani forces.
Yousuf Marri was arrested by Pakistani forces from Sibbi on 27th November 2020, whereas, Arif Marri was detained from his shop in Hazar Ganji Quetta on 28th February 2021. Similarly, Shah Nazar was also forcibly disappeared.
This was typical CTD textbook “encounter”, which had happened multiple times in past too. In August 2020, CTD claimed it had killed five “terrorists” in Rajan Pur. But later it was found that all five were forcibly disappeared missing Bugti tribesmen. They were identified as Dost Mohammad Bugti forcibly disappeared from Karachi, Ghulam Hussain Bugti disappeared from Kandh Kot, Master Ali Bugti disappeared from Rajan Pur, Ramzan Bugti disappeared from Pit Feeder and Atta Mohammad Bugti disappeared from Bahawalpur.
In June 2018, the CTD was heavily condemned when it killed 4 Baloch, including a woman and a 5-year-old boy. CTD claimed that the terrorists had opened fire on them during a raid. However, Baloch political organisations claimed that all four were killed in a fake encounter.
In January 2018, CTD claimed it was transporting an arrested terrorist in Quetta to identify their hideouts when his accomplices tried to snatch him from the police. A shootout engulfed and both the detained Asfand Khan and an assailant were killed. However, the family members of the deceased claimed both were already under the detention of the Police and had been killed in a fake encounter.
In another incident in 2015, Baloch political activists Shafqat Rodeni and Ibrahim Nechari, were paraded before media as BLA terrorists. They were later killed along with another person in Killi Kandawa near Mastung. The police had claimed they took Shafqat and Ibrahim to identify a hideout where the third person opened fire and killed Shafqat and Ibrahim and he was killed by Police. Interestingly, like all other incidents no police personnel was hurt or killed and the third person for some reason opted to only kill Shafqat and Ibrahim and not the police.
Only yesterday on 12th March 2021, the CTD claimed that it has arrested two more BLA terrorists from Quetta after a tip-off. The arrested persons were identified as Jahanzeb Baloch and Awais Shah. TBP investigated the claims today and found out that both detained youngsters were forcibly disappeared from Panjgur last month. Jahanzeb Baloch, who is only 15-year-old was disappeared from Panjgur on 17th February 2021. Whereas Awais Shah was also taken away by Pakistani security forces from Panjgur on 11th February 2021.
Today, Awais’s father addressed a press conference in Quetta and said that on 11th February he and Awais went to Panjgur Bazar to get groceries. “Awais went to the bike shops to look at bikes. After a while I called Awais to find where he was. Someone else picked up his phone and said Awais was trying to take their pictures, and he will now bear the consequences. We did not hear about Awais until yesterday when CTD claimed he was a dangerous terrorist and was arrested from Quetta, some 520 kms away from Panjgur,” he said.
Awais’s father said that they have very strong reasons to believe that he will be killed by CTD like other Baloch detainees in a fake encounter.
Baloch political and human rights organisations fear the Pakistani forces have changed tactics. The notorious “kill and dump” policy has been morphed into fake encounters. The forcibly disappeared persons are now being killed by CTD in such encounters to “deceive the international monitoring bodies”.
The most interesting point is increased reporting in Chinese newspapers of these encounters as actions against “Baloch terrorists”. The 7th March incident was widely reported by main Chinese media outlets including Xinhua, Pak-China News, China.org and others. Chinese interests in the region have been targeted by Baloch armed groups raising concerns whether the multi-billion dollar project CPEC can even be completed.
China on multiple instances has demanded Pakistani authorities to improve the security situation in the region. Analysts believe such incidents might be an attempt to show China that Pakistani authorities are taking action against such elements.