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Pakistan's Balochs march to protest 'disappearances'

For a week now, members of Pakistan’s Baloch community have been on a march from Karachi to Islamabad, the country’s capital. Their goal is to condemn the disappearance of many individuals of Baloch origin, for which they blame the Pakistani military.

The organisation “Voice of Baloch Missing Persons” (VBMP) is behind this initiative. The VBMP claims that in the past few years, thousands of Baloch people have vanished in Pakistan.

The group have already walked 730 km, from Quetta to Karachi, between October 27 and November 23. Twenty people, led by 70-year-old activist Mamas Kadeer Baloch, took part in this first leg, which ended with a protest and a hunger strike in front of the Karachi Press Club.

On Wednesday, this same group of trekkers reached the historic city of Thatta in the Sindh region. According to the VBMP’s Facebook page, hundreds of people joined the march along the way. Their aim is to conduct a sit-in in front of the United Nations office in Islamabad, where they plan to deliver a memorandum listing the human rights violations that they say their community has suffered.

The powerful Pakistani intelligence services do not deny that they have detained hundreds of Baloch people, but say that they are “100% sure” that these detainees are violent separatists.

Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan, covering an area of roughly 350,000 km2 with a population of more than 13 million. Over the last few years, a new Baloch separatist movement has emerged in the province. This has exacerbated security problems in the area. Balochistan borders Afghanistan; as a result, the province and its capital, Quetta, have become a sanctuary for Afghan Taliban leaders.

Post written by FRANCE 24 journalist Wassim Nasr (@SimNasr).

For video coverage and full story, see: Pakistan's Balochs march to protest 'disappearances'