Author: Jamal Baloch
Late in the evening on February 17, 2023, a house in Satellite Town Quetta was targeted by Pakistani forces who forcibly abducted Mahal Baloch and her two young children, Nazenk and Nugrah, as well as her mother-in-law Mahnaz Baloch, her mother, and her sister-in-law’s daughter Banadi Baloch. Although the other members of the family were released the following day, Mahal Baloch remains unlawfully detained.
On February 18, 2023, the Pakistani Counter-Terrorism Department leveled spurious charges against Mahal Baloch. The authorities alleged that she was found with weapons and ammunition in ladies park, Quetta, but in truth, her house was raided and ransacked and she was abducted alongside her family. The family has vehemently denied these allegations and further claimed that Mahal was subjected to brutal torture in front of her minor children.
Mahal Baloch hails from a political family that advocates for the human rights of Baloch people. She has previously participated in demonstrations calling for the release of Baloch individuals who have been forcibly disappeared by Pakistani forces. This case represents a clear instance of the Pakistani forces practicing collective punishment against the Baloch population in Balochistan.
The abduction of Mahal Baloch is a clear example of the state-sponsored terrorism that has been carried out by Pakistani forces in Balochistan. Pakistan’s state machinery has been operating in the region for decades, with the sole objective of suppressing the Baloch people’s voices for their rights.
The abduction of Mahal Baloch, a political activist, and the fabrication of charges against her are part of a broader strategy adopted by Pakistani forces to counter the Baloch resistance. The Baloch people have long been struggling for their rights and their independence. They have been resisting against Pakistani occupation, and in this resistance, they have paid a heavy price.
The Balochistan region has been the focus of international attention due to its rich natural resources, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a massive project that China has invested billions of dollars in. The Baloch people have been resisting this project, claiming that it is against their will and is being imposed on them without their consent.
The resistance against the CPEC and Chinese projects in Balochistan has faced massive repression from Pakistani forces. Thousands of Baloch activists have been targeted, and many have been killed, following enforced disappearances and kill and dump policies. The Baloch people have been forced to live under a state of terror, with their human rights being violated on a daily basis.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a controversial infrastructure project that aims to connect China’s western region to the Arabian Sea via Balochistan’s Gwadar port. However, the project has faced opposition from various groups, including Baloch freedom fighters who see it as an attempt to exploit their natural resources without any benefit to the local population. In response, Baloch freedom fighters have resorted to armed resistance against the project and its proponents, including attacks on Chinese workers and installations. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) is one such group that has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the 2018 attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi.
The Chinese government has been pressurizing Pakistan to ensure the safety of its investment in the CPEC project. The Chinese people have been advised not to make unnecessary movements in Pakistan, and their movements have been limited following the resistance. The Pakistani government has failed to provide security to Chinese projects, which has caused a loss to foreign investment.
To satisfy China and Pakistani masses that all is well, Pakistani forces have resorted to abducting Baloch women and falsely labeling them as suicide bombers. This is also a desperate attempt to counter the involvement of women in political activities and the struggle for Baloch rights. Pakistan wants to send a message to Baloch women that if they get involved in political activities, they can face the might of the state at any time and anywhere.
The charges against Mahal Baloch are fabricated, and there is no evidence to support them. It is essential to analyze the entire political scenario of Balochistan before accepting the narrative of Pakistan’s security forces. It is worth noting that in a similar case, a woman named Noor Jahan Baloch from District Kech, Balochistan, was abducted by Pakistani forces, then claimed by the Counter-Terrorism Department that she belongs to BLF and is a suicide bomber. Still, after a few days when she was produced to court, there, she was freed of all these charges by the court, and it was proven that all this was fabricated by Pakistani security forces. Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department has been involved in fake encounters, fake arrests, and false accusations against Baloch activists. The department has been using these tactics to satisfy Pakistani masses that the Pakistani security forces are successfully countering the Baloch insurgency.
The abduction of Mahal Baloch and the false charges against her are part of Pakistan’s desperate attempt to satisfy China and Pakistani masses and hide the failure of Pakistan’s forces against the Baloch armed resistance and political struggle. The Baloch people have been struggling for their rights for decades, and it is time for the international community to take notice and stand with them. The world cannot ignore the state-sponsored terrorism being carried out by Pakistani forces in Balochistan. The Baloch people deserve justice, and the perpetrators of these crimes must be held accountable.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Balochistan Post or any of its editors.