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Baloch Hal Editorial: Pakistan’s “Drone Operations” in Balochistan

By Malik Siraj Akbar

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.

Each time Pakistani security forces disappear a young Baloch political worker, torture, kill and dump his body, they give a new martyr to yet another household. That said, killing one young man in official or semi-official (meaning the government-sponsored death squads) custody prepares hundreds of new supporters of the separatist movement. Each bullet-riddled dead body further ignites anti-Pakistan sentiments even among apolitical Baloch women and children. It makes it nearly impossible for moderate Baloch leadership, such as the upcoming chief minister Dr. Malik Baloch, to reach out to the disgruntled Baloch masses. By refusing to halt the kill and dump actions, the security establishment is clearly not backing a political resolution of Balochistan’s outstanding problems.

Last week, we wrote that nearly more than a dozen Baloch political activists’ tortured dead bodies had been found even after the general elections of May 11. Factually speaking, Balochistan experiences more kill and dump operations than FATA comes under drone strikes. So, Pakistan violates the Baloch people’s civil liberties more often than what the United States does with Pakistan’s ‘sovereignty’.

In a fresh, what Senator Bizenjo describes as, ”Pakistani drone strike”, Zaheer Anwar Adil, a young activist of the Baloch Republican Party (B.R.P.), was disappeared, tortured and killed. His killing has sparked new waves of anger, protests and closure of daily businesses in parts of Balochistan. These post-election killings give the Baloch people a reason to lose hope in the new demcoratic government.

The Balcohwarna website has provided an extensive account of the recent tragic developments in Balochistan:

“Zaheer Baloch was abducted along with two other Baloch activists Hafeez Baloch and Ateeq Baloch by personnel of armed forces and intelligence agencies of Pakistan from Punjgor area on April 24, 2013. The dead body of Hafeez Baloch was found the next day (on April 25) from Turbat while Ateeq Baloch is still missing and any hope of him returning alive are fading away as the state has intensified the kill and dump policy in Balochistan.

The body of Amanullah Mengal was found in Mongchar area of Kalat district in Balochistan. Mr Mengal was abducted three day ago from Monchar. The family of Amanullah Mengal blocked the Quetta-Karchi highway against the cold-blooded murder of their beloved relative.

Earlier on Sunday 02/06/2013 the dead body of Umer Abdul Ghani was found in Karachi. Mr Ghani was also a resident of Panjgor area of Balochistan. His date of abduction could not be confirmed so far.

Another dead body was found of Hub town of Balochistan on Monday. His identity could not ascertain far. The body has been kept in a morgue for identification. On the same day (Monday) an unidentified body has reportedly been found in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan.

Separately, a dead body of a person was found in Mand Bullo area of Balochistan on Tuesday. The victim’s body has been recognised as Basit son of Yaqoob. He was abducted from Mand Bullo on Monday night. The abductors were reportedly motorcycle riders.”

Amid fanfare about the election of a new government led by a middle-class chief minister, we should not remain distracted from the continued human rights abuses the Pakistani security forces are carrying out in Balochistan. These killings are unlawful and unjustified. People should have the freedom of political opinion. The Pakistani government cannot justify killing young activists because of their dissenting political views.

Unfortunately, the Pakistani Supreme Court’s intervention last year neither helped in recovering the missing persons nor has it helped in stopping the kill and dump operations. These blatant activities are taking place routinely with absolute impunity. The infrastructure of those involved in these operations has significantly expanded from Balochistan to parts of Karachi in the Sindh province. Most of the young Baloch boys who disappear from one district are found dead in another district or province which shows the ability of the perpetrators to move easily from one city to the other. This is a very alarming sign. One develops such sophisticated networks and infrastructure of terror only when one intends to commit long-term human rights abuses. If that is what Islamabad is planning, the world community should take immediate notice of such plans.

Considering Pakistani government’s complete failure to grapple with this worsening human rights situation in Balochistan, we would encourage the United Nations, the European Union and the international human rights groups to intervene to end unabated rights abuses in Balochistan.

Editor-in-chief The Baloch Hal; Huffington Post writer; Former Hubert Humphrey Fellow; ex-Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellow at National Endowment for Democracy. Washington DC.

Faiz Baluch