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The weak hands of justice

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

People often wonder why these agencies and their henchmen invite condemnation and ire by displaying abducted persons’ brutally tortured dead bodies. There is a very simple bully’s logic behind it: instilling fear in the hearts of those who dare to fight for Baloch rights

I had expressed fears last week in my piece ‘Taking cognizance’ (Daily Times, February 12, 2012) that the US Congressional hearing could have “adverse consequences for the Baloch” as Pakistan, “just to show to the US that it does not care for what its committees say or do, it will increase the atrocities and human rights abuses against the Baloch”. Sadly, it is becoming a brutal reality. A day after the Congressional hearing, the mutilated body of missing Baloch Republican Party (BRP) leader Sangat Sana, a former Chairman of the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO Azad), abducted from Kolpur on December 8, 2008, was found dumped near Turbat. He had been shot 30 times in the face and chest.

Could this be a prelude to the Iranian-like 1988 hangings of Mujahideen-e-Khalq and other imprisoned dissidents in revenge for the Mujahideen-e-Khalq attacks? Amnesty International had put that figure, including women, at around 4,500. Here Zakir Majeed and hundreds others are missing. The signs are ominous.

Haji Jan Mohammad Marri, an elder of the Sherani clan, was abducted from Karachi on the 10th this month and his body was found in Windar on the 13th. He had previously undergone a two-year detention following arrest in 2005. I knew him well as we lived together in exile in Afghanistan. The government seems determined to spite the US at the cost of Baloch blood.

Hafiz Abdul Qadir Ghulamani Mengal, father of Mir Sami Mengal Shaheed, was shot dead in Khuzdar on Thursday. Mir Sami Mengal Shaheed had been abducted on October 1, 2010 and his body was found 28 days later near Khuzdar on Eid-ul-Azha. A note in his pocket contained derogatory remarks against the Baloch leaders and organisations and said this was an eid gift for the Baloch. How many more Baloch lives will they take before realising that the Baloch spirit cannot be broken?

People often wonder why these agencies and their henchmen invite condemnation and ire by displaying abducted persons’ brutally tortured dead bodies. There is a very simple bully’s logic behind it: instilling fear in the hearts of those who dare to fight for Baloch rights. Secondly, they know they can commit these crimes with impunity.

Bullies always measure the resilience of the people according to their own psyche; they presume that atrocities will cow people into submission. During the Vietnam War the US dropped 7,078,032 tonnes of bombs, which was 3-1/2 times the World War II bomb tonnage and averaged 1,000 lbs for every Vietnamese man, woman and child.

Moreover, 10 percent of Vietnam was intensively sprayed with 72 million litres of chemicals — 66 percent of it was Agent Orange, which contains TCCD dioxin and seeped into the soil and water supply and consequently into the food chain, and was then passed from the mother to her foetus. The dioxins endure in the soil and continue damaging the health of the grandchildren of the war’s victims. Since the war the Vietnamese Red Cross has registered an estimated one million people disabled by Agent Orange.

Between 1962 and 1969, 688,000 agricultural acres were sprayed with chemical Agent Blue; the aim was to deny food to the NLF but it was the civilian population who suffered most from the poor rice harvests. A 2003 report claimed that 650,000 people in Vietnam were still suffering from chronic conditions and an estimated 500,000 people had died from health problems created as a result of the chemicals.

An estimated three million people were killed by the war and over one million wounded. Yet the US lost the war and the Vietnamese triumphed so these tactics fail in the face of the resilience of people and these atrocities here will not break the spirit of the Baloch people.

Prime Minister Gilani, concerned at ‘foreign involvement in Balochistan’, has called for an All-Parties Conference (APC). His interior minister, while absolving the army and paramilitary forces of the charges of abducting and killing people in Balochistan, said that a third force was responsible for the volatile situation in the province. Blaming others instead of themselves for Baloch resentment spells doom for all attempts to resolve issues.

No honourable Baloch will participate in the APC as long as the Pakistani state continues to play Russian roulette with the lives of Baloch youth and holds the Baloch nation hostage under threat of increased atrocities if they dare to demand their rights and resist repression.

The Baloch abductions’ footprint is writ large on the ‘Adiala Eleven’ episode; after abduction they lied, issuing denials while they tortured and killed, so now it is beyond the realm of conjecture and surmises who is responsible for the abductions and killings of the Baloch. Yet the ‘establishment’ persistently denies responsibility and has the temerity to accuse the Baloch of serving foreign powers

It remains to be seen if the agencies responsible for the ‘Adiala Eleven’ torture and deaths will be let off with a mild reprimand, which seems to be the most likely outcome, or there will be charges of murder and torture against the military hierarchy, which is responsible for it. The outcome of the ‘Adiala Eleven’ Supreme Court hearings may largely decide the attitude of the Pakistani state vis-à-vis dissenters in other provinces but regardless of the outcome of this case, the atrocities in Balochistan will not wane. For the ‘establishment’, a lot more than their hollow slogans of sovereignty is at stake in Balochistan.

Here, might is right because no one can challenge those who possess the instruments of terror. John Locke (1632-1704) in The Second Treatise of Civil Government illustrates the situation here: “The title of the offender and the number of his followers make no difference in the offense, unless it be to aggravate it. The only difference is, great robbers punish little ones to keep them in their obedience; but the great ones are rewarded with laurels and triumphs, because they are too big for the weak hands of justice in this world, and have the power in their own possession, which should punish offenders.”

The hands of justice here will remain weak indefinitely because of widespread apathy to problems affecting others so it is up to the Baloch to defend themselves and secure their rights despite organised and systematic atrocities to force them to subscribe to the ‘establishment’s’ ideology. Fortunately, history proves that no one forever remains too big for the weak hands of justice because verily historical processes are irresistible.

“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;

Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.”

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com


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