The recent unrest in Balochistan is proving costly for the ‘elected’ provincial representatives in Pakistan’s parliament (Senate and the National Assembly) and the Balochistan Assembly. The root cause is their sidelining of Baloch issues, including the peaking wave of enforced disappearances. As they do on every Eid, families of all the missing persons will be organising protests across the country – mainly in Balochistan and Sindh – for the release of their beloveds.
Students, in particular, are becoming the victims of enforced disappearances. This is an issue on which a bill was once presented in the parliament by the former federal government and then was lost in the same administration of Imran Khan.
Sometimes the posters are of Sohail Baloch, other times Fassieh Baloch, some day of Hafeez Baloch and another day of Feroz Baloch. And the story goes on.
Rawalpindi’s Baloch students of ARID organised a camp for the recovery of Feroz Baloch, who was allegedly whisked away from the city – most likely from the university, as the students say – and filed a constitutional petition (CP) in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). But for all their efforts, he could not be produced, despite the IHC’s words that the state was responsible for enforced disappearances.
Besides Feroz, two Baloch students of the Balochistan University, Sohail Baloch and Fassieh Baloch, were “detained” last year on November 1 from the hostel, at 7pm in the evening – the time when their fellow students found their cell phones suddenly switched off. After looking for them and lodging a first information report (FIR), as usual on “unknown men in civilian clothing,” the students found the inattention of the police and university administration towards the “abduction” of the two students quite unbearable. They forcefully shut down the main gate of the university on November 8 in protest. The sit-in continued for 20 days, after which a government committee was formed. They assured the students of the immediate release of the students if the sit-in was wrapped up. The students did so, but till today (after seven months of their disappearance) the students are yet in dungeons somewhere.
Here, we get two things that have become increasingly common. First, that the provincial government endorsed the detention of students, who they formerly claimed to have known nothing about – and the same is the case with the other disappeared persons. Second, that despite knowing the whereabouts of the students, they cannot do anything to get them released. Here, the families of the disappeared Baloch ask the government that if they know where their beloved family members are, why do they reject their claim of enforced disappearance?
It is again going to be Eid – yet another religious and holy occasion of the Baloch masses is going to be spent out there on roads, where they will be asking for the recovery of their family members so that they may spend the sacred holiday like all the others do in the country. From Zarina Baloch and Seema Baloch to Sammi Deen Baloch and Mehlab Deen Baloch; from Mahrooz Hameed and Saeeda Hameed to Dr. Jameel Baloch, and all the other families of the Baloch who have members from their families disappeared. They want nothing from the state, as Sammi Deen wrote in her article, but the recovery of their beloved family members. “Isn’t it the duty of state to safeguard its citizens as mentioned in its constitutional article 9?” they ask. “Isn’t it a state’s duty to give the right to free trial to every citizen of the state? If yes, then why isn’t the right being given to the Baloch if they are considered equally as state citizens?”
There are so many questions unanswered when it comes to the cases of enforced disappearances in Balochistan. But the important point is: when will there be an end to the grievance of enforced disappearances in Balochistan?