Pakistan’s Military, Intelligence Agencies and government should immediately end the widespread disappearances of Baloch nationalism and activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps in the southwestern province of Balochistan, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Several of those “disappeared” were among the dozens of people extrajudicially executed in recent months in the resource-rich and violence-wracked province.
Usama Khilji on Twitter: “”Our intellectuals, student leaders, mentors of Baloch were killed because they were involved in politics. The state within state does not want us to speak up” @balochsadia2 at #OpenSouthAsia #ClosedBordersOpenWebsites pic.twitter.com/nThtoiAs3W / Twitter”
“Our intellectuals, student leaders, mentors of Baloch were killed because they were involved in politics. The state within state does not want us to speak up” @balochsadia2 at #OpenSouthAsia #ClosedBordersOpenWebsites pic.twitter.com/nThtoiAs3W
The Pakistan agency’s report, “‘We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan,” documents dozens of enforced disappearances, in which the authorities take Baloch people into custody and then deny all responsibility or knowledge of their fate or whereabouts. The report details 45 alleged cases of enforced disappearances, the majority in 2009 and 2010, then 2015 and from 2017 till now. While thousands of students, intellectual and innocent people have been forcibly disappeared in Balochistan since 2005 till now 2022, thousands of new enforced disappearances have occurred since Karima Baloch assassinations. A dissident Baloch human rights activist living in exile in Canada has been found dead in Toronto after going missing.
“Pakistan’s security forces are engaging in an abusive free-for-all in Balochistan as Baloch nationalists, students, intellectual, innocent people and suspected militants ‘disappear,’ and in many cases are executed,” reports of, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The national government has done little to end the carnage in Balochistan, calling into question its willingness or ability to control the military and intelligence agencies.”
khalid baloch on Twitter: “بلوچستان مین 73 سال ھوگیا قابض پاکستانی فوج ظلم و ستم،بلوچ نسل کشی کر رہا ھے،ہزاروں بلوچ لاپتہ ھین ہزاروں کی لاشین ملی ھین، رب غرق کرے پاکستانی فوج اور ایجنسی کو۔ pic.twitter.com/XCl3W4asVH / Twitter”
بلوچستان مین 73 سال ھوگیا قابض پاکستانی فوج ظلم و ستم،بلوچ نسل کشی کر رہا ھے،ہزاروں بلوچ لاپتہ ھین ہزاروں کی لاشین ملی ھین، رب غرق کرے پاکستانی فوج اور ایجنسی کو۔ pic.twitter.com/XCl3W4asVH
The report is based on over 1000 interviews by Human Rights Watch in Balochistan in 2017 and 2022 with family members of “disappeared” people, former detainees, local human rights activists, lawyers, and witnesses to government abductions.
Human Rights Watch investigated several cases in which uniformed personnel of the Frontier Corps, an Interior Ministry paramilitary force, and the police were involved in abducting Baloch nationalists, students and suspected militants. In others cases, witnesses typically referred to abductors as being from “the agencies,” a term commonly used to describe the intelligence agencies, including the military Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence, and the civilian Intelligence Bureau.
From 2001 till now, the Baloch educated class has been disappearing and their mutilated bodies are being found across Balochistan. Even if 0.01% of this number of birds were killed or injured in a civilized country, hundreds of documentaries would have been made numerous rescue efforts would have gone viral in the media.
However, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) has been protesting continuously for the past twelve years. It is trying to convey its painful ordeal to the world by setting up protest camps in various cities of Pakistan and Balochistan including Quetta, Karachi, and Islamabad.
Internationally, the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (IVBMP), many other organizations and personalities have been raising this issue but to no avail. The Baloch and Balochistan are continuously and deliberately ignored as if they are not part of this universe or they are crying behind an invisible and soundproof wall that no one sees and hears.
The tragic thing about this prolonged issue is that Pakistani civil society, political parties, courts, and even human rights organizations offer various justifications for the Baloch issue either to justify the obscure deeds of Pakistani institutions or to hide their inaction.
In all the cases Human Rights Watch documented, the security forces never identified themselves, nor explained the basis for the arrest or where they were taking the person. In many cases, the person being arrested was beaten and dragged handcuffed and blindfolded into the security forces’ vehicles. Without-exception in the cases Human Rights Watch investigated, released detainees and relatives able to obtain information reported torture and ill-treatment of detainees. Methods of torture included beatings, often with sticks or leather belts, hanging detainees upside down, and prolonged food and sleep deprivation.
In some cases relatives told Human Rights Watch that senior government officials, including the Balochistan chief minister, Pakistani PM had freely admitted that intelligence personnel were responsible for the disappearance but expressed an inability to hold the abductors accountable.
“Pakistani security services are brazenly disappearing, torturing, and often killing people because of suspected ties to the Baloch nationalist movement,” Adams said. “This is not counterinsurgency – it is barbarism and it needs to end now.”
khalid baloch on Twitter: “اگر کسی کو بلوچون پر یقین نہیں تو اس آدمی سے پاکستانی آرمی کی اصلیت سن لین پاکستانی آرمی کی اصلیت بتا رہا ھے۔کیسے بلوچ اور پٹھان عورتوں سے جنسی زیادتی کرتے ھین pic.twitter.com/Q6QhayGrLo / Twitter”
اگر کسی کو بلوچون پر یقین نہیں تو اس آدمی سے پاکستانی آرمی کی اصلیت سن لین پاکستانی آرمی کی اصلیت بتا رہا ھے۔کیسے بلوچ اور پٹھان عورتوں سے جنسی زیادتی کرتے ھین pic.twitter.com/Q6QhayGrLo
Under international law, enforced disappearances are considered a continuing offense, one that is ongoing so long as the state conceals the fate or the whereabouts of the victim.
“Pakistan should realize that the disturbing reality of wanton and widespread abuse in Balochistan cannot be wished away, All Pakistanis will pay the price if the government fails to protect Balochistan’s population from heinous abuses at the hands of the Pakistani military.”
Balochistan has historically had a tense relationship with Pakistan’s government, in large part due to issues of provincial autonomy, control of mineral resources and exploration, and a consequent sense of deprivation. During the rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, from 1999 to 2008, the situation deteriorated markedly. Two assassination attempts on Musharraf, in 2005 and 2006 during visits to Balochistan, resulted in a crackdown on Baloch nationalists by the armed forces and Military Intelligence, the military’s lead intelligence agency in the province. The recent surge in killings and ongoing enforced disappearances can be traced to the 2006 assassination of the prominent Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and 35 of his close followers, and the murders of three well known Baloch politicians in April 2009 by assailants believed to be linked to the Pakistan military.
Since 2005, Pakistani and international human rights organizations have recorded numerous serious human rights violations by security forces, including extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances, forced displacement, and excessive use of force against protesters.
Cases From “‘We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’”: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan:
Account of “Rahim” (not his real name), who was held in acknowledged custody until his release:
Delete Pakistan on Twitter: “s and disapiring them. The Army taking the live treasures and looting ours Balochistan’s hidden resources and treasures none stop. #SaveBalochistanFromPakistan pic.twitter.com/4OYOeMe0YK / Twitter”
s and disapiring them. The Army taking the live treasures and looting ours Balochistan’s hidden resources and treasures none stop. #SaveBalochistanFromPakistan pic.twitter.com/4OYOeMe0YK
In February 2021, at least 15 families of missing persons from Balochistan came to protest in Pakistan’s capital to push Khan and Mazari to fulfil their promise.
First, they bound my arms behind my back, and then they threw me on the ground face down and someone sat on my back. Whenever they asked me a question, the interrogators pulled my head back by grabbing my hair and kept asking, “Who are you? Why have you come here to Quetta?”
I explained that I was a farmer in Awaran [district of Balochistan], and they also asked about my family, and about Dr. Naseem and Ilyas [Baloch nationalist activists]. When I told them that they were my friends, they screamed, “You are lying to us! Dr. Naseem is a separatist. Tell us what Naseem is doing. Why is he involved in separatism?”
They beat me all over my body and on the soles of my feet with their fists and feet. They hit me for around one to two hours continuously in the morning, then again in the evening. At night they would not let me sleep or lie down, I was forced to stand. If I started to fall asleep they would hit me on the back and shoulders to keep me awake.
Enforced Disappearance of Din Mohammad Baloch On June 29, 2009, Din Mohammad Baloch, age 40, a physician, was on a night shift at a small medical clinic in the Ornach area of Khuzdar district.
Sammi Deen Baloch, who has been campaigning on behalf of her missing father, Dr. Deen Muhammed Baloch, for over a decade.
The families weathered the harsh winter nights of the capital for five days, staging a sit-in outside the Islamabad Press Club, but not a single government representative came to visit them. They were eventually forced to take their protest to D-Chowk, close to the parliament.
Baloch recounted that many students had come to support them. At least 10 were arrested for a day and a lot of obstacles were created for them before they reached D-Chowk.
A staff member, “Bukhtiar” (not his real name), was also in the clinic. He told Baloch’s family that at around 2:30 a.m. seven men entered the clinic. A few of them tied Bukhtiar up and locked him in a room, while the others went into Baloch’s office. It was dark, Bukhtiar said, and he could not see the men clearly or determine whether they were wearing uniforms. Bukhtiar said he could hear loud noises that sounded like a scuffle between Baloch and the men, and then he heard the men dragging Baloch out.
When Bukhtiar finally freed himself around 30 minutes later, he informed Baloch’s family. The family went to the local police station, but the police refused to lodge a criminal complaint, known as a First Information Report (FIR), offering no explanation. Two days later the police lodged the report, based on an interview with Bukhtiar. It said Baloch was taken by unknown men.
Hafeez Baloch and Racial Profiling of Baloch Students
Amid silence from the government, enforced disappearances continue in Balochistan.
Abdul Hafeez Baloch, enrolled in Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, went to his hometown, Khuzdar, Balochistan, in February but never returned to his school. Baloch was reportedly abducted from an academy where he was teaching.
His father told BBC that “three masked armed men came in a black surf car and forcibly took Abdul Hafeez to an unknown location in front of his students.”
Intelligence agencies are generally alleged to be involved in the enforced disappearances cases; however, Pakistan’s security agencies have regularly denied being complicit in disappearances.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concerns about reports of a fresh wave of enforced disappearances in Balochistan and on the abduction of Hafeez Baloch.
Baloch students staged a protest in front of the Islamabad press club. A case was registered in the Islamabad High Court against Hafeez Baloch’s abduction and racial profiling of the Baloch students at university campuses across the country.
In its response, the Islamabad High Court noted, “There cannot be a graver grievance [than] for a citizen to feel that he/she is being subjected to racial profiling or is not being treated equally.”
Several months later, local newspapers reported that the Frontier Corps had arrested Baloch and two others in connection with an armed attack on the Frontier Corps on August 14, 2009, nearly two months after Baloch was abducted. Baloch’s brother spoke to the author of the article, who told him that the information came from the Special Branch of the Police, the intelligence arm of the Balochistan Police Service. However, government authorities have not officially confirmed that Baloch is in Frontiers Corps custody or specified the charges against him.
Baloch’s family told Human Rights Watch they believed Baloch had been abducted by intelligence agencies because he was a senior member of the Baloch National Movement. Baloch’s brother said that he had met with the chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, on July 15 and in August 2009. On the latter occasion the chief minister told him that Baloch was in the custody of the intelligence agencies, but did not specify which one. Human Rights Watch wrote to Chief Minister Raisani seeking confirmation that he had made these allegations, but received no response.
A lawyer acting on behalf of Baloch’s family filed a petition regarding Baloch’s “disappearance” with the Balochistan High Court on July 4, 2009. On May 27, 2010, the court ordered police to locate him, with the presiding judge saying that they should “do everything” needed to find him. But the court has had no further hearings in the case.
The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a local Baloch nongovernmental organization, filed a separate petition on Baloch’s disappearance with the Pakistan Supreme Court. In June 2010, the Supreme Court told Baloch’s lawyers that the ISI had reported to the court that Baloch was not in their custody but was being held by the chief of the Mangal tribe. However, the ISI did not provide any further details about these claims to the court, and the court did not share their submissions with Baloch’s lawyers.
The family has not been able to obtain any further information about Baloch’s fate or whereabouts.
started protesting after my father, Dr Deen Mohammed Baloch, was abducted from his hospital in Khuzdar, Balochistan, on 28 June 2009. I became an activist, raising my voice against the heinous crime of enforced disappearances: more than 5,000 people are missing in Balochistan.
The state and its security agencies have responded to the separatist movement with a “kill and dump” policy and are forcefully disappearing students, lawyers, doctors, political activists and their sympathisers.
Women’s organisations in Pakistan do not raise their voices for Baloch women and the violence against us. This is saddening.
We come from respectable families and we are not happy to be demonstrating on the streets. Our men have disappeared – that’s why Baloch women, from a conservative province, are coming out of their homes to protest.
I would rather focus on my career like other young women. But how can one if your father, husband or brother is missing?
Why are people disappearing in Balochistan?
Enforced disappearances have been happening across Pakistan for the last 20 years. And in the southwest province of Balochistan, in particular, some human rights groups say thousands of people are missing. The province was annexed by Pakistan in 1948, soon after partition from India, and there has been a separatist movement ever since.
Enforced Disappearance of Mir Abdul Waheed Resani Baloch
Over the last 15 years, Pakistani security forces have detained Mir Abdul Waheed Resani Baloch, 45, a senior member of the Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) central committee, numerous times. He was held in Frontier Corps jails in Mastung and in Quetta.
On January 2, 2010, a court in Khozdar ordered Baloch released after a 10-month detention in Khozdar central jail. However, within minutes of his release, the police picked him up again in the street in front of multiple witnesses. The police took him to Mastung police station, where he tried to speak to the news media.
Balochistan – Enforced Disappearances, Extrajudicial Killings Have Become A Norm In Pakistan’s Largest Province
On November 12, 2021, a Baloch identified as Abdul Wahab was allegedly abducted at the hands of the security Forces (SFs), during a raid on his house in Dera Bugti District. On November 13, 2021, two brothers, identified as Muhammad Essa and Abdul Haq, were forcibly removed by SF-backed death squad members during a raid on their house in the Mashkay area of Awaran District.
A relative of Baloch told Human Rights Watch that a senior police officer interrupted Baloch, announced that he would like to “talk to Baloch in private,” and took him to another room. The relative told Human Rights Watch:
We waited for about 10 minutes and then asked about him. The officer came back and said, “Sorry, we had to transfer him somewhere and we cannot tell you where, so you should all leave.” We waited for about six hours, and then left. The same day, officers from the [police] anti-terrorist unit came to our house, claiming they were looking for him. They pretended he had escaped from custody. Of course, they knew he was not there, and instead of looking for him they just looted our house, taking away money, jewelry, mobile phones, and expensive clothes.
On January 4, Baloch’s relatives went to the police, who denied having any knowledge of his whereabouts. They accepted an FIR, which simply said that Baloch was “missing.” Three days later the family filed a petition with the Balochistan High Court. The court sent inquiries to the chief minister, home minister, and inspector-general of the police. Their representatives, who appeared in court, denied having any knowledge of Baloch’s whereabouts and claimed they were looking for him.
Baloch’s relatives said that after his forced disappearance, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani temporarily suspended the district police officers (DPOs) for Mastung and Much because the Mastung DPO allegedly had handed Baloch over to the Much DPO. A month later, however, both officers were reinstated.
Baloch’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown.
Enforced Disappearances of Mazhar Khan and Abdul Rasool
At around 10 p.m. on December 19, 2009, a group of armed men abducted Mazar Khan, 21, and Abdul Rasool, 26, from Khan’s house near Kili Station in Noshki district.
A witness to the abduction told Human Rights Watch that seven men in civilian clothes, their faces covered with scarves, broke down the gate to Khan’s house and burst in, firing their pistols in the air. The witness said Rasool resisted and one of the men hit him on the temple with his pistol butt, but Khan did not resist. The assailants tied the men’s wrists and ankles and blindfolded them. Then they dragged the victims outside, put them into one of their three pickup trucks, and drove away.
The next day, relatives of Khan and Rasool reported the abductions to police at Kili Station.
“The police said they cannot do anything about kidnappings,” one of Khan’s relatives told Human Rights Watch.
In mid-February 2010, Rasool was released by his captors. He told Human Rights Watch about his ordeal:
On the day of the abduction, after travelling for 15 to 20 minutes by car, it stopped and I was dragged outside and into a room. I don’t remember anything about the building I was in because I was still blindfolded. But after whoever brought me in had left, I removed my blindfold and saw that I was alone in a small, dark room. I had no idea where Mazhar was.
Rasool said that soon after he had been brought in, some men entered the room and asked him if he was involved in Baloch political activities. They kept him in this room for a month and 25 days, and then moved him to another location, a three-hour drive away. They kept him there for another five days. Then at night the captors put Rasool into a vehicle, blindfolded and handcuffed. They drove for a few hours. His captors stopped the car, removed Rasool, still blindfolded and handcuffed, and told him he was being released on Chaman Road on the outskirts of Quetta and then drove off.
Enforced disappearances continue to plague Pakistan, especially Balochistan
Islamabad [Pakistan], April 4 (ANI): The issue of enforced disappearances has plagued Pakistan, especially the Balochistan province and according to official data out of 22,600 cases of enforced disappearances, 348 names are from the Kohlu district of the province. There have been several protests across the world to highlight extra-judicial abductions and enforced disappearances by […]
Fearful of being abducted again, Rasool did not approach government authorities about his disappearance. But Khan’s family filed an application for a first report with police in Noshki on February 17, 2010. Although the police registered the FIR, it only stated that Khan was a missing person and made no mention of the circumstances of his abduction. On February 21, relatives of both men filed a statement about the abductions with the Balochistan High Court. The next day, relatives of Khan and Rasool met representatives of the Balochistan Home and Tribal Affairs Ministry, who said they would record Khan’s abduction but could do nothing to investigate it.
In March 2010, the Balochistan High Court accepted a habeas corpus petition asking the federal Ministries of Defense and Interior, the Balochistan provincial government, Military Intelligence, the ISI, and the Kili police station to provide information on charges brought against Khan and Rasool. The high court has since held five hearings but only police representatives have ever appeared before it. They have denied having any knowledge of the abductions.
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The Never-Ending Issue of Enforced Disappearances
According to the Voice for the Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), an organization that keeps a record of missing persons, more than 5,000 people have been forcefully abducted over two decades in Balochistan.
“During Imran Khan’s tenure, 430 missing persons were recovered while more than 600 went missing,” said Nasrullah Baloch, the chair of VBMP.
“Since Shehbaz Sharif took oath as the prime minister, three people have been abducted. As per unconfirmed reports received by VBMP, on 19th April 2022, 7 more people were abducted including a female,” he added.
The issue of missing persons is not confined to Balochistan. The former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), bordering Afghanistan, have reportedly seen the forced disappearance of thousands of civilians.
Advertisement Imran Khan recently became the first Pakistani prime minister to be ousted from power via a vote of no confidence. The former cricket star turned politician made several promises that he and his government couldn’t live up to in their three-and-a-half years of governance. One such promise was to resolve the missing persons’ issue.