Pakistan’s politics and the Baloch

"Every politician, whether local or state level, is using against each other the card of Baloch missing persons without realising what the families of the missing persons are actually going through"

The recent swing in the Pakistani politics has brought so much confusion. No doubt of the ugly fact that they oppose each other in every possible forum they can, which they have been doing for years using different political cards, their latest card is the Baloch. Every politician, whether local or state level, is using against each other the card of Baloch missing persons without realising what the families of the missing persons are actually going through.

In a latest statement, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that the families of the missing persons should provide him evidences that their beloved ones – who they show missing – were with the agencies under him. “Then I will be responsible for their release.” He added that Balochistan National Party’s Akhtar Mengal had said the same. Further in his statement, he added that if the judiciary had ordered them to produce the missing persons, they would cooperate.

To bring into the interior minister’s knowledge, no matter what Akhtar Mengal had said about Baloch missing persons, the Islamabad High Court’s Justice Athar Minallah has been continuously issuing orders to produce before the courts the [Baloch] missing persons. In a latest order, he asked the deputy attorney general that they (the government) were asked to produce the missing persons, so where they were. He responded that government had formed a committee consisting of federal ministers which was inquiring about the issue.

Despite the fact that it was not the first time the excuse of a governmental committee’s inquiry was made before the court, the government is silently delaying the court(s) further and, on the other side, claiming openly in the media that the families should produce evidences that their beloveds were taken by the state agencies. However, the DAG was although not wrong as of the government committee and their inquiry – which is nominal – but what they (the committee) asked to the families is deteriorating and pathetic.

Sammi Deen Baloch, daughter of missing Dr. Deen Mohammad Baloch, was asked by the committee to appear before them. When she appeared, they asked her “irrelevant questions and forced her to keep silent about her father’s whereabouts”. “Same happened with the families of Rashid Hussain, Shabbir Baloch and Zakir Majeed, while rest others were never called to appear,” said the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a non-profit organisation working on the issue of Baloch missing persons.

The ‘dishonor’ of families of Baloch missing persons does not finish here: very recently in the night of June 13, when the families of two missing Baloch students were protesting for the safe recovery of their family members outside the provincial assembly of Sindh in Karachi, the Sindh police was seen to have been dragging the Baloch mothers and sisters by throwing their scarfs away – which is equal to throwing the Baloch honor away.

While such an act should be condemned to the highest degree, the former federal minister for Information and Broadcasting and senior member of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has opposite comments. In a recent statement, he said: “the unarmed labors were martyred in Harnai in night during an attack [by a Baloch nationalist group] and the silent supporters of such attacks of terrorists have been chanting for the missing persons.” He added that it was the weakness of the state and supporters of terrorists should be deemed as terrorists. In simple words, the former minister declared by himself the Baloch missing persons and their families ‘terrorists’.

As Baloch were already finalised as terrorists, the senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, in a reply to the former minister’s tweet, said that it was not surprising. “I remember when Imran Khan started raising voices against the enforced disappearances in my show in 2003, spokesperson of General Pervez Musharraf made the same claim that all the missing persons were terrorists.” He added that Imran Khan’s spokesperson was doing the same.

In between the political chaos of Pakistan, the families of Baloch missing persons, or I would rather say the forcibly disappeared Baloch, are thrown in a certain torment coming out of which may trouble them so much. When you cannot console the grieving families, you have no right to put them in more misery either.

The debate on the statements of former and present ministers had not finished, when the party leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, whose party president is the present prime minister of the state, was asked about the unpleasant conduct of the Sindh police on the families of Baloch missing persons, about which she said that she felt the pain of the missing persons and was “trying her best” to get all the Baloch missing persons recovered the soonest.

Everything seems contradictory here in the Pakistani politics: on one hand where the interior minister is declining the claim of the presence of Baloch missing persons, on the very other hand, the ruling party leader is endorsing of missing persons and claiming that she was involved in the release of some missing persons and was “trying her best” to get the others recovered.

Secondly, Pakistan People’s Party’s senator and lawyer, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, said in a statement during his visit to the camp of Baloch students outside ARID (Rawalpindi) – camp set for the recovery of missing Feroz Baloch who was reportedly whisked away on May 11 – that, “Has the ‘state apparatus’ gone bonkers? What kind of message are we giving to the Baloch that their kids are not safe even in the university campuses outside their province? A 17-year-old student of ARID University Rawalpindi – Feroz Baloch – being the latest victim… If prisoners of war (POWs) can have rights, why not our own children?” I suppose he should have asked the same question from his party chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

As a whole, Pakistani politics seems very controversial towards the Baloch. Where one politician supports the Baloch when in opposition, they go opposite to what they said when they turn to the ruling benches and the former keeps supporting. One politician says Baloch are their children, while another declares them terrorists. In the middle, the Baloch families, whose beloveds are disappeared, keep suffering in agony and wait for the recovery of their children. With such a discriminatory attitude of the state’s politicians and parties towards the Baloch, what else Baloch have in the legal framework of the state other than protesting and throwing out their hatred? But for how long?