Fact Check Unveils Contradictions in PM’s Statements on Baloch Missing Persons

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Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar’s recent statement regarding enforced disappearances in Balochistan, along with a tweet by Pakistani journalist Gharidah Farooqi, have been fact-checked and found to be inaccurate according to available data and reports.

•Pakistani Prime Minister’s Claim:

In an interview with BBC Urdu on September 29, Kakar stated that, according to data from the United Nations’ sub-committee on enforced disappearances, there are approximately 50 disappeared persons in Balochistan.

Kakar contrasted this with the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, where he alleged the number is around 8,000. Kakar also suggested that higher figures might be used as propaganda against state institutions.

However, a detailed examination of publicly available United Nations reports and the Pakistani government’s data presents a stark contrast to Kakar’s claims.

•United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED):

This claim contrasts sharply with reports from the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED), an independent body monitoring state compliance with the Convention against Enforced Disappearance. The CED’s reports, accessible publicly, do not support Kakar’s figure of 50 cases. Notably, between May 2022 and May 2023, the CED forwarded 1,635 complaints of enforced disappearances to the Pakistani government.

•2016 UN Working Group (WGEID) Report:

A 2016 report by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), following a visit to Pakistan, highlighted allegations of over 14,000 missing persons in Balochistan. However, the provincial government recognized less than 100 of these cases.

The report indicated that the discrepancy between government data and numbers raised by human rights organizations should be seen as an indication of the government’s lack of cooperation and political will to investigate cases of enforced disappearance.

•Pakistan’s Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED):

As of August 31, 2023, COIED recorded 2,708 cases from Balochistan, far exceeding Kakar’s claim, with 451 cases still pending. Across Pakistan, 9,967 cases have been documented with 2,253 pending.

However, COIED has faced significant criticism for its handling of the issue of enforced disappearances. Relatives of the missing, public figures, and human rights organizations have criticized the Commission for not cooperating in registering new cases and often disposing of cases despite substantial evidence.

•Fact-Check: Gharidah Farooqi’s Tweet:

Gharidah Farooqi, a Pakistani journalist, posted a tweet on Friday alleging that Mahrang Baloch, an activist campaigning against enforced disappearances, was disseminating false information about her brother, Nasir Baloch, claiming he is still missing. In her tweet, Farooqi shared a video purportedly showing Nasir Baloch and claimed that he is actually in Quetta.

However, a review of the case reveals that Nasir was reported missing in December 2017 and was released over three months later, following Mahrang’s campaign. A comprehensive review of Mahrang Baloch’s public statements and campaign history post-release found no evidence to support Farooqi’s claim. Therefore, Farooqi’s tweet, asserting that Nasir is still missing, is found to be entirely fabricated and misleading. This claim potentially represents a threatening attempt, especially given how Nasir has been filmed and the sensitive nature of Nasir’s case, considering he has already been a victim of enforced disappearance.

These incidents of misinformation occur amidst growing protests against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan. The Baloch people, along with human rights activists and reputable journalists, have been actively demanding accountability and resolution for these issues. However, state officials and some Pakistani journalists have resorted to tactics that undermine the gravity of the situation instead of addressing these serious concerns.

The spread of inaccurate information by high-ranking officials and media personnel distracts from the actual issue and could be seen as an attempt to delegitimize the legitimate grievances of the Baloch people. This underscores the need for responsible communication and sincere efforts to address these critical human rights issues in Balochistan.

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