A credible Pakistani Urdu-language newspaper, Express, has reported that the government is considering granting amnesty to all personnel of the security forces and intelligence agencies who have been involved in enforced disappearances, torture and killings. As a quid pro quo, these officials would assist in recovering the missing persons.
The city of Quetta observed a day of mourning on Sunday against the killing of more than 24 people in Saturday’s coordinated attacks on a university bus and the Bolan Medical College Hospital. When a political party within the ruling coalition, such as the Pashtunkhawa Milli Awami Party, calls for a strike, it implicitly shows the government’s helplessness to grapple with hard challenges.
In a recent interview with the B.B.C. Urdu, veteran Baloch nationalist leader Senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo rightly compared Pakistan’s ‘kill and dump’ operations in Balochistan with America’s drone-strikes taking place in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He told a Pakistani audience that if drones, as argued by the government authorities, were “counterproductive” in the war on terror and causing more militants then the bullet-riddled dead bodies of the missing Baloch political activists were doing exactly the same job in Balochistan.
A prominent anti-government and pro-Baloch nationalist Urdu language newspaper, Daily Tawar, says personnel of Pakistani intelligence agencies raided its Karachi office early in the morning on April 6. According to the newspaper, a convey of seven vehicles surrounded the newspaper’s office, broke the locks, burnt all the furniture and took away every piece of electronic equipment, including computers, fax machines and an electric generator.
Since the killing of Nawab Mohammad Akbar Bugti in a military operation in August 2006, elections in Balochistan have become a yardstick to measure the intensity of Baloch disillusionment with the Pakistani federation. Unlike the rest of Pakistan, elections in Balochistan are not merely about public representation, transparency and the accommodation of underrepresented voices in the so-called mainstream politics. Balochistan, after Bugti’s killing, has become a significantly different place and the dynamics as well as the requirements of the regional politics have remarkably changed.
Mehmood Jan Afridi, president of the Kalat Press Club, is the fourth journalist to be killed in the line of duty in Balochistan since the inception of this year. Mr. Afridi, a seasoned journalist who worked for Daily Intekhab as a correspondent in Kalat, was shot dead by unidentified persons on Friday, March 1st, on his way to the local press club. While no group has officially claimed responsibility for his killing, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (C.P.J.) quoted the Associated Press saying that Mr. Afridi, according to his professional colleagues, had received threatening phone calls from a Baloch nationalist group.