Pakistan, a country infested with terrorism and corruption at high levels, is facing a biggest threat since its inception. The country officially admits Balochistan is in turmoil….writes Syed Shihabudeen
Balochistan, the biggest but the most neglected province in Pakistan, has been at war with Pakistani state for decades now. Thousands of innocent men, women and children have died in this unjust, unfair and one-sided war launched by Pakistan against its own people, using heavy artillery, combat jets and other deadly weapons which otherwise should have been used against enemies.
Despite the blood of Baloch people flowing like a melted glacier throughout the province and the soul of the nation, there has been a cunning and complicit silence among the leaders and people alike. Only a handful of people have dared to raise the issue and many of them faced the wrath of the brutal state as a result. But all along, Pakistan has consistently denied any problem in the province, raising a hue and cry over non-existent issues in other countries.
But so widespread has been the brutalities of Pakistani security forces against the Baloch people in the recent decade that the incidents are no longer hidden from the international community. Various international organisations have been pointing out time and again about the gross violations of human rights in Balochistan, although without much relief to the hapless people of the province. Surprisingly, now even official documents of Pakistan admit that all was not well with Balochistan. In fact, the situation is worsening, the official documents quoted by a Pakistani English daily, The News, said recently.
This is what the media report said: “Nearly a thousand bullet-ridden corpses have been recovered from various parts of Balochistan in the past six years, official documents revealed, indicating a disturbing sign that the security of the country’s largest province is worsening yet again. More than 51 percent mutilated bodies were identified as ethnic Baloch. Official figures continued to reveal shocking figures further as stating that 22 percent dead bodies belonged to Pashtuns while rest of the bullet-ridden corpses either remained unidentified or belong to Punjabis, Afghan refugees or non-Muslims.“
The figures could be disputed since the number of the dead and disappeared are far higher than suggested in the official documents. But even then, the report exposes the state’s pretentions that all was well with Balochistan and that it was the conspiracy of other adversarial countries to defame Pakistan.
According to the confidential data accessed by The News and Geo News, over 940 dead bodies were recovered from various districts of Balochistan whereas Quetta remained the worst-hit district with 346 dead bodies were recovered since 2010. In terms of illegal custodial killings, the figures of these years corroborate, at least in some measure, what the world has been saying, and Pakistan has been denying. The official figures, undoubtedly, are too low. For instance, 2011 witnessed recovery of 203 dead bodies were found in 2011, 166 in 2012, 168 in 2013, 165 in 2014, 129 in 2015 and 17 bullet-ridden bodies were recovered this year (2016). Most of the bodies were disfigured and burnt, a clear indicator of the involvement of security forces.
The security forces, especially Pakistan Army, has been illegally detaining thousands of Baloch men and women for years now, incarcerating them in secret prisons, tortured and most often their bodies, mutilated and burnt, thrown outside their houses or localities. Their number would be in thousands, and not in hundreds. In the last few years, several mass graves have been found in the province filled with unidentified bodies, almost all of them either Baloch or Pashtuns.
So even if it is natural to treat the official figures with a bag full of salt, they do tell a story, a story which Pakistan has been desperately hiding under lies and insinuations, especially against India. These figures were collated by officials assigned to execute the National Action Plan (NAP), a grandiose plan of the Nawaz Sharif government to free Pakistan of terrorism. The data showed that that over 112 persons were still missing in the province. The figures show that over 658 innocent people lost their lives in sectarian incidents where total 1, 837 were killed either in target killings or other disputes after 2011 in the province. Over 3, 470 people were injured in terror or sectarian related incidents during this period.
Pakistan has also found new ways to legitimise the Baloch genocide. New draconian laws have been enacted to protect the “killer“ security forces and brutalise the Baloch people. One such law is the Pakistan Protection Ordinance which offers, like other similar laws, immunity to the security forces for committing human rights abuses in the province. Under these laws, officially, over 12000 have been detained in the past 18 months. The identity and whereabouts of these detained Baloch are not known and neither have they been brought before a court.
Balochistan, by all accounts, has for long been a ravaged, besieged province. People live in fear and security forces, Pakistan army, has a free ride of the province which otherwise has an elected “puppet“ government. People continue to disappear or their bodies found dumped in ditches and mass graves and there is no redressal for the families of the victims. They are told, at gun point, not to file any police complaint about missing persons. Not that the policemen are eager to register them if anyone does dare to approach with a complaint. The families of the victims are not even allowed to bury those who had died at the hands of the security forces. These bodies are buried in anonymous graves.
In effect, Balochistan is slowly turning into a mass grave of its people and their hopes with Pakistan interested only in letting Chinese money and men trample over their own people and unique culture.