On 3rd February February, individuals donning Pakistan Army uniforms forcibly abducted Rahim Zehri, his wife Rashida Zehri, mother, and two children from Gushkuri Town, Quetta. While Rahim Zehri’s mother and children were released after two days, his wife Rashida Baloch was detained for eleven days before being released, but Rahim Zehri is reportedly still in military custody.
Rahim Zehri is related to Tabish Waseem, who forcibly disappeared, along with his cousin Liaquat, and killed by CTD in Kharan in a fake police encounter. Liaquat still remains missing. The Zehri family has previously been victims of enforced disappearances, and their mutilated bodies have been dumped. Rahim Zehri’s family is now afraid that state institutions may also kill Rahim Zehri and Liaquat in fake encounters, like Tabish.
Protests have been held in various parts of Balochistan, including Karachi and Quetta, to demand the recovery of the Zehri family. The entire Baloch community is outraged over their enforced disappearance, and political leaders are calling for an end to collective punishment. The Pakistani military has failed to keep Baloch political activists away from the struggle, therefore, their family members are now subject to collective punishment. While protests were underway for Rahim Zehri’s recovery, the army raided the house of Dr Wahid Bakhsh from Turbat and forcibly disappeared Zaman Baloch.
Protests against enforced disappearances have been ongoing for two decades in Balochistan. Voice for Baloch Missing Persons has been protesting in front of Karachi and Quetta Press Club for twelve years now. Long marches were held from Quetta to Karachi and from Karachi to Islamabad, and two years ago, even former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan met the families of forcibly disappeared persons and assured then that their loved ones will be recovered. Despite these efforts, cases of forced disappearances have significantly increased in Balochistan.
Defense analysts suggest that the Pakistani military believes that collective punishment can deter people from joining the national liberation movement, but the facts paint a different picture. Enforced disappearances and collective punishment only serve to increase people’s sympathies for the national liberation movement and exacerbate the state’s difficulties in Balochistan.