Pakistan: Disappearing Justice In Balochistan By Anurag Tripathi
the relentless campaign of ‘disappearances’ inflicted on Baloch dissidents by the state’s Forces and covert agencies, and appear to have provoked the recent spate of attacks in North Balochistan by Baloch separatist formations.
Pakistan: Disappearing Justice In Balochistan
By Anurag Tripathi
On September 25, 2014, Police recovered three mutilated bodies from the Rakhshan Nadi and Washbud areas of Panjgur District in South Balochistan. According to reports, all victims had received multiple bullet injuries. The victims remain unidentified.
On September 23, 2014, Balochistan Levies personnel found two bullet-riddled bodies in the Pidark area of Turbat District in South Balochistan. The victims remain unidentified.
These are the latest in an endless chain of ‘disappearances’ and political killings in the troubled Province. Sources in the Balochistan Home and Tribal Affairs Department indicate that in 2014, so far, 53 mutilated bodies have been found in Khuzdar, Turbat, Panjgur (South Balochistan), and Quetta (North Balochistan) Districts, and other troubled areas, mostly in the Southern part of the Province.
More alarmingly, a July 2104 report disclosed that at least 803 bodies had been found in Balochistan over the preceding three-and-a-half years, most of them in South Balochistan and Quetta. Sources stated that 466 victims were identified as ethnic Baloch, 123 as Pashtuns, and 107 from other ethnicities. 107 bodies remained unidentified. Of the 466 Baloch killed in the Province, most were political workers, while the remaining lost their lives in incidents of targeted killings, tribal disputes, and criminal and domestic violence. Responding to the report, Baloch nationalist leader, Dr Hayee Baloch, observed, “This is an alarming situation. Baloch political workers were still being picked up from various parts of the Province to suppress their voice.”
According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the Province has recorded at least 3,248 civilian fatalities since 2004. Of these, 305 civilian killings (182 in the South and 123 in the North) have been claimed by Baloch separatist formations. The Islamist and sectarian extremist formations, primarily Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Ahrar-ul-Hind (Liberators of India), claimed responsibility for the killing of another 502 civilians, all in the North, mostly in and around Quetta. The remaining 2,441 civilian fatalities – 1,511 in the South and 930 in the North – remain ‘unattributed’. A large proportion of the ‘unattributed’ fatalities, particularly in the Southern region, are believed to be the result of enforced disappearances carried out by state agencies, or by their proxies, prominently including the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Aman Balochistan (TNAB, Movement for the Restoration of Peace, Balochistan).
According to Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) as on February 7, 2014, up to 18,500 people have been missing in Balochistan since 2000. VBMP claimed that, during the Pervez Musharraf era (1999-2007), 4,000 Baloch went missing. The number increased to 18,500 during the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Government (2008-13) and the present Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) government. The VBMP stated that the data on 14,000 of the ‘disappeared’ had been documented by the organisation, and had been shared with the courts and United Nation agencies. Significantly, the Supreme Court has been hearing the Balochistan missing persons case since 2012 and has already reprimanded the Government for its failure to comply with its orders on several occasions. At times, the Government has pleaded helplessness in the matter. Significantly, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on December 10, 2013, hearing a case pertaining to missing persons, had ordered that all the missing persons be recovered or accounted for by December 19, 2013, and made the Federal and Balochistan Governments responsible for execution of its directive. On January 30, 2014, having failed to implement the order, the Balochistan Government conceded before the Supreme Court that it was handicapped in recovering missing Baloch persons, because it had no effective control over the Frontier Corps, which was accused of ‘detaining’ these persons.