No Expectations Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
The state simply sees the Baloch aspirations and their demand for rights as an obstacle to their strategic and economic plans
The Supreme Court (SC) hearings on the missing persons in Balochistan are ending inconclusively without having done anything for the majority of the missing or reducing the agony of their relatives. Moreover, it seems that these hearings may become a reason for further aggravating the already bad conditions for the Baloch because the Chief Justice’s statement ‘there is a constitutional breakdown in Balochistan’ has serious implications. It implies that a constitutional breakdown requires special and emergency measures. Already one Baig Raj, president of Punjab Forum, in a national daily demanded that the government give it serious consideration and suggested that the situation in Balochistan be normalised by initiating a massive military operation after imposing governor’s rule. The Baloch are wondering if all these hearings were for laying the groundwork for justifying just this eventuality.
These hearings have been marked by the stubborn adamancy of the Frontier Corps (FC) in rejecting what the SC terms incontrovertible evidence against it. During the last hearing, the SC ordered it to produce the missing persons, but in a written statement, the FC submitted that it had conducted “internal inquiries” and found the group of missing people “was not held in the custody of FC”, adding that in many cases, insurgents dressed in FC uniforms committed “high profile acts of terrorism and heinous crimes…thus bringing (a) bad name to this federal organisation”. Period. End of story. They do not have the missing persons; moreover, imposters dressed in FC uniforms do evil to give the ‘saintly’ FC a bad name. Surprisingly, it also sought police powers to conduct a door-to-door search for the missing as if their vast arbitrary powers were not enough. Resorting to denial helps them because here no authority has the authority to verify and disprove their bogus denials.
Ironically, the FC’s claim that insurgents don their uniforms to kidnap people belies their other claim that insurgents have no influence in Balochistan, amply showing how inefficient the FC and police actually are. These unbelievable childish fairy tales are an insult to human intelligence. Simply put, the army and the FC want to persist with the policy of repression and brutality to subdue the Baloch. It seems that all these claims and disregard of law are aimed at prompting the SC to come up with a verdict about the need to right the situation created by the constitutional breakdown. It needs to be emphasised that as far as the Baloch are concerned, they are being ruled by emergency powers that the army and FC enjoy. The ‘constitutional breakdown’ verdict may just formalise the emergency powers but these will neither bring back the missing persons nor end the frequent sectarian attacks.
Mr I A Rehman, the respected human rights activist, in his article of July 19, 2012, ‘The UN and the missing’ had written that, “The report that a team of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will visit Pakistan in September must have raised hopes in many a heart in Balochistan.” He hoped that this working group’s request to visit to assess the problem already delayed for 20 months will not be delayed further and be allowed an unhindered visit to “ensure that exchanges with the UN team are based on truth, openness and a desire to solve matters instead of taking shelter under an umbrella of denial and obfuscation.” He was also of the view that, “Any reluctance to deal fairly with the UN team will also further alienate the people of Balochistan, especially the Baloch population.”