December 19, 2010 | Details of Ehsan Arjemandi case in April 20, 2010 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
“As it must be clear by now, Pakistan is essentially an army/intelligence establishment disguised as a country.”
– Pepe Escobar, AfPak and the new great game, atimes.com
by Wendy Johnson
Subject: News regarding the location of abducted Norwegian citizen Ehsan Arjemandi
Many of us who advocate on behalf of the disappeared Baloch in Pakistan have operated in the dark: Countless bullets through Baloch brains have been unable to move the big human rights organizations, diplomats or mainstream media journalists to draw attention to or cover gross human rights violations alleged to have been committed by the Pakistani military and security agencies in Pakistan. For several years Baloch human rights activists have struggled with the questions: 'How do we get this information out there? How do we inform people of what is happening to political activists and even non-political activists in Pakistan?' To this end, they have written articles, set up websites and protested in a variety of locations around the world.
During this time only three human rights organizations refused to tip-toe around the hyper-sensitive, emotionally-reactive and threatening Pakistan: the The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission whose senior researcher, Baseer Naweed, has been uncompromising in his statements related to the human rights abuses committed in Balochistan, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), and Interfaith International whom the UN Committee on NGOs ironically voted to suspend for two years in February 2010, at the behest of Pakistan, over speeches by Interfaith accredited representative Mehran Baluch regarding human rights abuses in Pakistan.
So like Michael Moore and countless others, we owe a great deal to Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Wikileaks for revealing confirmation of what before was only a suspicion: the United States government and others are, in fact, very well-aware of the situation on the ground in Balochistan province. And not only is the United States government aware, it would consider collaborating with the perpetrators of human rights abuses in exchange for political gain. In a cable dated February 26, 2010 former US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson writes of the possibility of turning over Baloch leader Bramdagh Bugti to the Government of Pakistan in exchange for wanted Taliban leader Mullah Beradar: "...we should watch out for consideration of some type of exchange of Berader with Bugti..."
So my letter and plea today for the release of Ehsan Arjemandi is not directed to the United Nations or Amnesty International, nor am I reaching out to the Norwegian government or the U.S. State Department. They have had ample time to rally on behalf of Arjemandi and others and have never effectively done so.
Today I plead instead to the Pakistani military itself and/or whichever agency holds Ehsan to release him or produce him in court, as last night I received news that Ehsan Arjemandi is being held in Malir Cantonment near the Karachi International Airport. He is reported to be ill and cannot stand up on his own. The fact that Pakistanis have Ehsan Arjemandi in custody was first admitted by Interior Minister Rehman Malik in an interview with Norway Post reporter Atta Ansari on July 26, 2010, almost a year after Arjemandi's abduction from a bus en route to Karachi, Pakistan, on August 2009.
And why would I ask the Pakistan military to shoot itself in the foot by releasing Ehsan? Because it would ultimately do them no harm. In fact, the Pakistan military could release all the abducted and tortured Baloch tomorrow--all one thousand to four thousand reported missing, we don't have a correct number--and the news would die in a New York minute. Why? Even if Baloch victims described their stories, nothing will happen. Pakistan holds all the cards. The U.S., despite funding the Pakistan government and military with billions of dollars in aid, will not press Pakistan on human rights abuses for fear Pakistanis will decline to help them in their war in Afghanistan, despite overwhelming evidence that the Pakistan military and ISI already systematically thwart U.S. efforts anyway.
Additionally, we already have evidence that nothing would happen with regards to U.S. support should documentation of abuses come to light. On September 29, 2010, the New York Times published a story regarding the execution of youths in civilian dress. The Pakistani military later admitted the video was authentic and that admission essentially brought the story to a close. There is no precedent of any country effectively holding Pakistan accountable for anything, so should the Pakistani military and I.S.I. decide to play against type and release the enforced disappeared who are still alive, they have little to fear. On the upside, their jails and prisons could be cleared, thus lightening any budgetary constraints and most of the Baloch who have been already released are too broken and fearful to threaten the military.
I will not outline the details of Ehsan Arjemandi's case here; they are noted in an earlier letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Other than Ehsan's status as a Norwegian citizen, his story is similar to that of all abducted Baloch, at least those who have not yet turned up at roadsides with bullets to their foreheads and a note in their pockets.
So in closing, I am revealing the location of where our sources report Norwegian friend Ehsan Arjemandi may now be held. Can no one save him?
Click for coordinates: Malir Cantonment, Karachi, Pakistan.
Dec. 24, 2010: A reader noted that I had ignored the good work of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Please see, for example, this article by HRCP: HRCP calls for immediate demilitarisation of Balochistan.
The Guardian coverage of below cables: WikiLeaks cables reveal Afghan-Pakistani row over fugitive rebel
Related cable text: "As most of our readers know, the presence of Baloch separatists Bramdagh Bugti in Afghanistan has long been a neuralgic one with the GOP, particularly with the GOP military. Accordingly, post believes that we should watch out for consideration of some type of exchange of Berader with Bugti. But we do not believe that the Pakistani government, especially those who control Berader's fate--Kayani and Pasha--would willingly lose control of such a huge potential propaganda pawn in Beradar. While Bugti may be a core issue at some political level, the "truths" Berader could tell about ISI, not to mention a host of other Pakistani notables, likely outweigh any potential wins in bringing Bugti to Pakistani justice."
Related cable text: The two ministers agreed that, in regards to prisoners, the countries needed to draft an agreement to exchange prisoners. Malik agreed to provide a prisoner list to Atmar listing the 38 3. In regards to the Most Wanted Lists, the ministers agreed to share intelligence at the upcoming Focal Point meeting on the "Most Wanted." Atmar invited the FBI to participate in these discussions and work with both countries on the efforts to locate the "Most Wanted" persons. Director Mueller accepted the invitation and pledged the FBI's full support...
Related cable text: Director Mueller strongly suggested that, as the two countries moved forward, the "prisoner" and "Most Wanted" lists should not be made public. He urged both Minister Atmar and Minister Malik to restrain from comments to the press (advice which was apparently ignored). The names on the lists could be key to sensitive investigations and making the names public might jeopardize investigations, the FBI Director explained.
Related cable text:UNHCR will hold an in-house meeting to be attended by XXXXXXXXXXXX to discuss more generally what to do with regard to the Baloch in Afghanistan. Besides Bugti, there are "a few hundred" Baloch in Kandahar (largely from Dera Bugti), XXXXXXXXXXXX explained. He said that recognizing these Baloch as refugees would be well received by the Pakistani Baloch community - which believes UNHCR has been insufficiently supportive of them despite Baloch assistance in facilitating the release of kidnapped UNHCR Quetta Sub-Office Head John Solecki -- but would not be well-received by the Government of Pakistan...
The Ambassador told XXXXXXXXXXXX that the USG would be supportive of moving Bugti out of the region but said that UNHCR would need to confirm first Ireland's willingness to grant him asylum. She and XXXXXXXXXXXX both expressed concern about the possible implications of XXXXXXXXXXXX's stipulation that Bugti would need to be able to freely travel outside his country of asylum. The Ambassador agreed to engage President Zardari and have the Embassy follow up with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to ensure that the GOP would not act against a transfer of Bugti out of Afghanistan or negatively respond to UNHCR's potential involvement...
In a subsequent conversation, DG ISI Pasha told COS that he believed Bugti should return to Pakistan to stand trial for his crimes. While declaring that the decision belonged ultimately to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he made clear that the Pakistan military would not favor allowing Bugti to be accorded refugee status. It was also clear from Pasha's comments that efforts on the part of UN agencies to effect Bugti being provided with asylum in Europe would color the Pakistan military's perception of those agencies and would affect their working relationships...
On the basis of Pasha's remarks, we are advising XXXXXXXXXXXX that it would be better for UNHCR not to pursue this initiative with Bugti. End Comment. PATTERSON"