Balochistan: The Land of Dead Bodies – TBP Editorial

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On August 30, 2021, the Counter-Terrorism Department of Balochistan Police sent a letter to Deputy Commissioner Khuzdar and Deputy Commissioner Awaran. The letter stated that Nasir Farooq, son of Ghulam Farooq from Sadiqabad Zehri, Ghulam Jan, son of Baran from Bypass area Quetta, Abdul Qayyum, son of Zehri Khan from Zehri Khuzdar, and Kamal Khan, son of Bahot from Chuki Awaran, were killed in a police encounter. The Counter-Terrorism Department referred to the deceased individuals as unclaimed for and buried them in Dasht Thera Meel area through Edhi services.

Tragically, the Dasht Thera Meel graveyard has become the final resting place for numerous anonymous corpses. Located on the Quetta-Sibbi road, this graveyard contains over two hundred graves of individuals found abandoned in mountainous areas and deserts. Baloch nationalists claim that many of these bodies belong to victims of enforced disappearances, with some discovered in mutilated conditions and others purportedly killed in staged encounters with the police.

The bodies buried two years ago were those of forcibly disappeared persons. Nasir Jan Qambrani, who was taken against his will from Zehri, and Abdul Qayyum Zehri, whose family was subjected to a similar ordeal in November 2020 when he was forcefully disappeared from Hub Choki by Frontier Corps personnel. These victims were identified and laid to rest in their native areas.

Since the start of the 21st century, the Balochistan independence movement has gained momentum. In response, attempts to suppress this movement have involved the discovery of forcibly disappeared persons in the form of tortured bodies since 2008, a distressing practice that persists today. Thousands of forcibly disappeared individuals have been found mutilated in different areas during the tenures of the People’s Party and Muslim League-N.

Countless daughters, like Zunaira, the daughter of Abdul Qayyum Zehri, cling to hope that their forcibly disappeared fathers will be found alive. Sadly, they are often confronted with the heart-wrenching reality of their loved ones being recovered from anonymous graves as lifeless bodies.

While the authorities in Pakistan claim to address the Baloch problem by showcasing the alleged commander of the Baloch Nationalist Army to the media, children like Zunaira are continuously losing the shadow of their fathers. The killings of victims of enforced disappearances only serve to fuel the Baloch national independence movement and intensify public anger.

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