Armed forces still calling the shots in Balochistan: HRCP -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Armed forces still calling the shots in Balochistan: HRCP

Karachi: Decision-making in Balochistan lies firmly in the hands of those who were in command before the February 2008 elections, and it is the military that still calls the shots, claimed a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report on Balochistan titled ‘Pushed to the Wall.’

The report contains observations of an HRCP fact-finding mission led by Chairperson Asma Jahangir, which spent over a week in the province. The fact-finding mission began its work on October 5, 2009 and tried to meet with as many people as it could from different schools of thoughts and political and ethnic groups.

“Balochistan , the largest federating unit of the state, can only be likened to an active volcano that may erupt anytime with dire consequences. The situation is alarming and worsening by the day,” the report said.

“Violations of human rights in Balochistan are widespread and harrowing,” the report said. “The most hair-raising are the continuing incidents of enforced disappearances. In addition to a large number of cases already taken up by HRCP, the commission documented several new cases during this mission to Balochistan,” the report said.

“This appears to be only the tip of the iceberg as a large number of families do not have access to any forum of protest or redress,” the report said.

“HRCP has ample evidence to support the allegations of victims’ families that the perpetrators of enforced disappearances are intelligence agencies and security forces. This has been conceded by senior officials and politicians in authority,” the report added. “The existence of check-posts that cause inconvenience and humiliation was reported by people from all over Balochistan . Incidents were reported where the FC personnel manning these check posts insulted the people by shaving their moustaches, tearing the traditional Baloch shalwar and making other gestures derogatory to their culture and bearing,” the report pointed out.

“The mission also received information about arbitrary arrests and reports of torture at unauthorised cells whose existence was confirmed by public figures,” the report said. “No wonder, in this situation a large section of the Baloch youth has been driven into repudiating their allegiance to the state,” the report said.

The report further stated that a significant number of people have fallen victim to target killings simply because of their belief or ethnic origin. “HRCP unreservedly condemns such abuse of right to life and expects all political forces to do the same publicly. The sins of the federal government must not be visited on unarmed and innocent citizens,” the report said.

“The so-called transition to democracy has not started in Balochistan as the government is being run the way it was being run since the 1999 military coup. The situation has only worsened over time,” the report maintained.

“The rule of Pervez Musharraf has been quite a provocative phase for the Baloch because in this period state excesses radicalised the common Baloch. Mega projects such as Gwadar port and coastal highway started in Balochistan during this period strengthened the Baloch’s sense of deprivation as they thought they were not among the beneficiaries of these projects,” the report said.

“The killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, the mysterious killing of Balach Marri, the brutal murder of three Baloch leaders in 2009, and torture of illegally detained students, and enforced disappearances have made matters worse,” the report opined.

The report further said that soon after the HRCP policy statement on human rights violations in Balochistan issued on October 11, 2009, the federal government announced some relief measures, named Aghaz-i-Huqooq-i-Balochistan Package. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the relief measures in a joint session of parliament on November 24.

“As the so-called package is yet to be implemented and its impact examined by independent observers, HRCP reserves its comment on how far the promised package has been able to provide relief to the people of Balochistan with regard to human rights.”

The HRCP report recommended that there is an urgency to create a climate of confidence and trust in Balochistan so that wider consultation with all stakeholders becomes possible. As a first step towards confidence-building, demilitarisation of the province is essential, it added.
Source: The News