Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, has been consistently ignored by the government for as long as one can recall. Ironically the province that produces major chunk of natural gas is deprived of its home product. In terms of natural resources it is probably the richest province. All it needs is peace and tranquility to dig out the buried treasures.
The constant neglect has caused a deep-rooted sense of deprivation among the indigenous Baloch of various tribes. From economic conditions of the province to the security situation, it is the most affected province of Pakistan wherein separatist movements and anti-Pakistan slogans frequently echo.
Economic disparity, inequitable distribution of wealth, lack of infrastructure, educational institutions and basic health units and failure to bring Baloch people in the national spectrum are indeed alarming but one issue that outweighs everything else is the security condition.
Balochistan’s security situation has been volatile since the murder of Akbar Bugti. The situation that deteriorated with Bugti’s hunt has not improved since. The forced disappearance of Baloch political workers was the unfortunate icing on the cake, further aggravating the law and order condition.
Mama Qadeer Baloch has been working ceaselessly for years to raise voice for the people who have either gone missing or have been killed. He is heading the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VMBP), an organization to raise voice for the disappeared Baloch. His non-violent movement, which includes more than five years of sit-in in front of Karachi Press Club and long march from Quetta to Karachi and Karachi to Islamabad, is indeed exemplary.
A man with nerves of steel, Mama Qadeer is the father of former secretary information of Baloch Republican Party Abdul Jaleel Raiki. Raiki was picked up from Quetta in 2009. His mutilated body was found from the outskirts of Quetta in 2011.
Mama Qadeer reveals some spine chilling facts whenever he is given a chance to express his grief. According to him, the number of abducted and murdered Balochs is in thousands. In this connection, the representatives of VBMP have handed over a report of murdered and abducted Balochs to the UN and they have met the UN and EU representatives.
A retired bank employee, Mama Qadeer Baloch said that he was once approached to negotiate the release of his son and was asked to arrange two million rupees. He said that if all missing person can be freed in lieu of ransom, he is ready to go ahead with the deal, otherwise he cannot compromise the common cause over his son’s release.
Mama Qadeer was told that he will receive the body of his son very soon. And he did get the mutilated body of Abdul Jaleel Raiki within 20 days.
The list of missing persons includes political activists, journalists, teachers, lawyers, students, elders and even women. The VBMP throws blame squarely over intelligence agencies. On the flipside, intelligence agencies have been refuting the allegations. The reality is yet to be made public.
The Supreme Court took up the case of a few of the people involved in the missing persons’ case, but thus far it has not achieved the objective to retrieve all missing persons who have been kept in different internment centres of the country.
The missing persons issue does not seem to be on the top of the federal government’s priority list as the provincial government has already washed its hands off the issue, claiming that its hands are tied.
Inhabitants of Dera Bugti, hometown of Akbar Bugti, have fled the town. The tribal chiefs are insecure in their own native towns. The chiefs of Sarawan and Jhalawan tribes, the most powerful and influential Baloch tribes, are time and again attacked when they visit their respective villages. Separatist movements have reached their zenith and the leadership in the province as well as the center is in a deep slumber, perhaps awaiting a miracle.
Mama Qadeer Baloch sums up the security situation in the province: “Law enforcers are supposed to provide security to the masses. But it is the other way around in Balochistan where Police officers seek mercy and ask the separatists to spare them.”
The enforced disappearance followed by killing and dumping the abductees would never help resolve such a critical issue. Whoever is working against the state or waging war against Pakistan ought not to be simply picked and illegally kept at an unknown place.
The state is bound to treat them in accordance with due course of law and afford him the fundamental right to fair trial.
Suppression has always encouraged rebellion. Repress their voices and they will speak much louder. Kill them and they will reciprocate with more force.
Treat them with dignity, arrest them, prosecute them and punish them if found guilty.
The agonized souls languishing in detention centres are asking for nothing but justice.