‘Undeclared martial law in Balochistan’; 7 killed, 58 disappeared — Paank report

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Baloch National Movement’s (BNM) human rights department ‘Paank’ has presented its report of March 2023, titled: ‘Undeclared martial law in Balochistan.’

According to the Paank report, in March 2023, Pakistan Army killed 7 people. A shepherd named Allah Dad, who was a resident of the Kolwah area of Awaran district of Balochistan, and Salahuddin Siyapad, a resident of the Kharan district were brutally tortured while in custody. After the torture, both were released without providing necessary emergency medical aid, due to which both victims succumbed to the severe injuries sustained.

The report further says: Even though enforced disappearances have been highlighted as the most significant human rights issue in Balochistan, it has become a daily routine for the Pakistani Army in Balochistan to forcibly disappear people after extra-constitutional arrests. In March 2023, 58 persons forcibly disappeared, and only 31 persons out of thousands of enforced disappearances were released from the detention centres of the Pakistani army, who were subjected to mental and physical torture during their imprisonment. The Pakistani army has neither produced them in court nor explained the charges against them nor the reason for their arrest.

The report highlights media blackouts, undeclared martial law, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and human rights violations by the police’s counter-terrorism department in Balochistan.

As Paank reports, with the appointment of Major Asif Ghafoor as Corps Commander in Balochistan, peaceful political activities were also banned in Balochistan, all civilian institutions were paralyzed, and Major Asif Ghafoor issued direct orders to all institutions of Balochistan like a colonial viceroy. Institutions like the Education Department, Health, and Judiciary are also not immune from military intervention. Most of the Balochistan University area is occupied by Pakistan Army, and FC resides in the building. A Wing Commander of the Pakistani Army has also taken up residence in the official residence of the Vice Chancellor of Balochistan University. The electricity and gas bills of lakhs of rupees per month consumed by FC residing in Balochistan University are also paid by Balochistan University, which is already facing a severe financial crisis.

“Imprisoned in the media black hole and hidden from the eyes of the world, Balochistan has turned into a region of the world where the Pakistani army has no grip on human rights abuses. Even a one-day review of the situation in Balochistan, which is suffering from a humanitarian crisis, can assess the grave human rights situation here. The human rights situation assessment in March 2023 shows that human rights violations in Balochistan are increasing daily. The Pakistani army is unabashedly torturing the people of Balochistan to deprive them of their political and human rights.”

In this report, Paank also mentioned the state crackdown on Haq-Du-Tehreek Balochistan’s activists and leaders: On March 25, Haq-Du-Tehreek Councilor Haji Javed, Councilor Naveed Muhammad, Councilor Naseer Shahzada, Chairman Allah Bakhsh, Abid GM and Maulana Liaqat Baloch were also arrested after their bails were canceled. The ban on political activities and freedom of opinion is a clear violation of human rights on which the Baloch people express their concern and raise questions that when the state and the guarantor of justice, the state judiciary, fail to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens then what criteria and principles will it be possible to determine the responsibility for the safety of citizens?
The report also expressed concern over the arrest of human rights activist Mahal Baloch in a fake case: “In this regard, Amnesty International has written a letter to the Interior Minister of Pakistan demanding the immediate release of Mahal Baloch. This action of Amnesty International is admirable but not proving to be effective, so Amnesty International must maintain its pressure on the Pakistani authorities to protect human rights, and all means must be used that guarantee the implementation of international human rights laws.”

Panak has criticised the role of the Pakistani judiciary by expressing dissatisfaction: “On February 12, 2023, were implicated in fake cases by the CTD. The court sentenced them to five years in prison. In their cases as well, the court has given its decision, accepting only the wishes of the Pakistani army as law. The Pakistani judiciary plays a dynamic role in other areas and other matters, and the Pakistani judiciary is famous for judicial proceedings based on Suo Moto. Still, the Pakistani judiciary has become biased in severe human rights cases in Balochistan. It plays a role as a facilitator of human rights violations in Balochistan for Pakistani forces.”

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