The family members of the victims of the Ziarat incident and Baloch activists ended their protest after meeting with the government delegation headed by the interior minister. The government representatives said that serious efforts are being made to resolve the issue. The protestors said they have given the government another chance to seek a constitutional solution to the problem.
The protest in Red Zone began earlier in July in the immediate aftermath of the Ziarat incident, where the security forces had allegedly killed 11 Baloch missing persons in a fake encounter, labelling them “militants.” The protest continued for weeks, despite the harsh weather and heavy monsoon rains. Several protestors became ill, but they refused to give up. The provincial government also tried to negotiate with the protestors but to no avail.
According to the details, a delegation of the federal government flew to Quetta on Thursday to meet with the families of the victims of the Ziarat incident and Baloch activists who had been protesting for the past 50 days in the Red Zone. The delegation, headed by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, included Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Benazir Income Support Programme Chairperson Shazia Marri, Federal Minister Agha Hassan Baloch and Senator Kamran Murtaza.
The government representatives told the protestors that they had come to Quetta to share in the grief of the family members of the missing persons. The delegation assured the protestors that all the possible efforts will be made for the safe recovery of the Baloch missing persons.
The protestors shared their apprehensions about the fate of their missing loved ones and said that if they have committed a crime, they should be produced in court. The delegation assured them that their demands will be met after which the protestors ended their protest.
Later in a presser alongside Balochistan Chief Minister Quddus Bizenjo, the interior minister said that efforts are underway and significant progress has been made for the recovery of the missing persons. He said the progress could not be disclosed at this stage, but the family members have been informed about it.
Rana Sanaullah also asked the family members of the missing persons to join the committee and guide “us in our efforts so that the issue could be resolved as soon as possible.”
He said the federal government considers the issue of missing persons as “important and humanitarian”, which is why the delegation came to meet with the protestors on their own, not on the orders of any court.
He said the issue of missing persons is complicated because the family members and the security agencies have different opinions on the matter, and the government has talked to both sides and heard their positions on the matter.
“We are in a position to resolve this problem, not in months and years but in days and weeks,” Mr Sanaullah claimed.
In a separate press conference, Chief Minister Balochistan said the provincial government had formed the much-requested judicial committee to investigate the Ziarat incident, but no one appeared before the committee to testify. He said the provincial government had approached the protestors but they had demanded that representatives of the federal government should come and meet with them.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan welcomed the meeting between the government delegation and the protestors, calling on the government to make good on its promises and act swiftly to criminalize enforced disappearances.
VBMP General Secretary and protest leader Sammi Deen Baloch also welcomed the meeting with the delegation of the federal government. Taking to social media, she said that being “peaceful and democratic citizens” of this country, the protestors decided to give another chance to the government to solve the issue.
She said that protestors handed over a list of over 880 Baloch missing persons. She said the protestors demanded an end to enforced disappearances and fake encounters which the delegation accepted.
Sammi Deen Baloch said the delegation had assured the protestors that their demands will be met and asked for a 90-day-ultimatum. She said that delegation had promised if the protestors’ demands are not met during this period, the members of the delegation would personally join their protest. Nazeer Tarar personally signed our Charter of Demands to assure us.
She said that we hope the delegation fulfils its promises, but if they fail, we will continue our protest.