Balochistan has been embroiled in an insurgency for two decades, and the policies implemented by Pakistan to counter the Baloch national movement have resulted in frequent tragic incidents. As protests for release of Zehri family and Mahal Baloch continued, another heartbreaking incident unfolded in Barkhan.
On the night of February 20th, the bodies of an unidentified 17 or 18-year-old girl and two young boys were recovered from a well in Barkhan. One of the bodies was identified as son ofKhan Mohammad Marri, while identity of other two bodies still needs to be ascertained. After the children were killed, Marri tribesmen staged a sit-in in Quetta with the bodies, and there was a strong backlash against the incident in Balochistan. As a result, the police arrested Abdul Rehman Kethran, who was previously arrested in 2014 for imprisoning people in a private prison and possessing illegal weapons, but was released due to lack of evidence.
Pro-independence circles allege that Abdul Rehman Kethran has the patronage of the Pakistan Army and has been tasked with quelling the freedom movement in Barkhan. It is alleged that he has liberty to kidnap people, keep them in private prisons, and kill them with the backing of the Pakistan Army. This is not the first time that Abdul Rehman Kethran has been involved in such incidents; he was also implicated in the murder of journalist Anwar Katheran two years ago.
Most chieftains (Sardars) in Balochistan are believed to be under the government’s patronage or that of the Pakistan Army, and they are given free rein to oppress people in their areas. Tragic incidents like the one in Barkhan have occurred before in Zehri, Jhal Magsi, and Naseerabad. In Balochistan, many chieftains have private prisons, but the government has not taken adequate measures to prevent such incidents. Instead, the government seems to be protecting the accused, leading to a loss of trust in the government among the people of Balochistan. As a result, they only believe in protesting and engaging in political resistance to fight for their rights.