Human Rights Day
December 10th, Human Rights Day, comes around each year. It quickly goes. Nothing much happens to alter the realities of our country. But even then, the statements made on such occasions, the speeches delivered by leaders, offer, at least, some kind of hope for the future. For this reason, this day is an important one.
This year, the prime minister has spoken on the need to improve the rights of people. It is welcome that he has directed some importance to this day. What would be even more welcome would be action of some kind to make a real difference at police stations, at jails and at all kinds of other places where rights are openly violated. Perhaps the place where the most work is required is the province of Balochistan.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has dedicated December 10th, this year, to this weeping tract of territory and its people. The commission reports that some 5,000 to 6,000 people remain missing here. Abductions continue even now, with mutilated bodies of young Baloch men abducted – allegedly by state security agencies – showing up on roadsides in the province almost on a weekly basis. It is widely believed that the security agencies are involved in these as well as the other practices that make almost every district in Balochistan increasingly unsafe. The people of the province have for months, years and decades demanded change. It has not been delivered to them. That is, of course, one reason why things have worsened so rapidly and continue to slide downwards despite the cries we hear from monitoring bodies around the world.
Something needs to be done. We have said this before and we say it again. We must say it many times – indeed keep repeating it until something is actually done. The problem is that, for now, not much appears to be happening. No one really seems to hear the desperate pitch in the voices from Balochistan or the shrieks which rise higher and higher. Until there is some action, the human rights situation in that territory will continue to worsen, leaving us with no means to put things right or pull our largest province back into a federation that seems to be in real danger of falling apart.