Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances continue in Balochistan: rights body

by IANS |

New Delhi, Dec 9: The Europe-based Human Rights Council of Balochistan (HRCB) has said that 35 people became victims to "enforced disappearances" while 42 were killed in November, 2022 in continuing violence across Balochistan.

It attributed the extrajudicial killing of forty-two people to the trio of Frontier Corps (FC), targeted killings and honour killings. Of these, the HRCB says 22 people were killed in separate operations by the FC - a paramilitary force that operates in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions.

Regarding targeted killings, the report says: "14 cases of target killings were reported, the largest number of people killed in target killings in recent months." It adds that three people were killed for honour and two mutilated dead bodies were found in the province.

The report says that a shepherd, Mohammad Gaus was detained during the military operation in the Bolan and was later shot dead. The Pakistani military had launched the Bolan operation to rescue two soldiers who had been abducted by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) on September 25. Their fate is still unknown despite fierce fighting.

On enforced disappearances, the HRCB says the "Frontier Corps abducted thirty-one people while the remaining four people were abducted by unknown gunmen." It added that 13 people were released after detention but the whereabouts of the others is not known.

It highlights that the FC personnel kidnapped the Baloch people from Khuzdar, Panjgur, Quetta, Awaran, Kech and many more areas. Those abducted from Quetta were four students, of whom three were released but the whereabouts of Waheed Sakhi, a student from Kech, remains unknown.

On a positive note, the report mentions that five victims of enforced disappearances who had been abducted by Pakistan's military forces earlier were released. This included well known publisher and human rights activist Faheem Baloch who had been kidnapped by the police from his shop on August 26.

Over the years, Pakistani forces have abducted thousands of Baloch, Pashtuns and Sindhis in a bid to quell nationalist sentiments among these ethnic groups. Even the Shias feels unsafe in Pakistan and have launched drives against enforced disappearances.

The Pakistani army has also killed the Baloch not just in Pakistan but also in other countries, notably Europe. Baloch journalists and activists were found dead in mysterious circumstances in Sweden, Canada and Azerbaijan.

As recently as October, hundreds of rotting bodies were found on the roof of Nishtar hospital in Punjab. At that time, the HRCB had asked the federal government to launch a thorough investigation into the mysterious deaths and establish the identities of the dead through DNA analysis.

Many human rights activists had alleged that the bodies belonged to the victims of enforced disappearances who had been tortured and killed in State captivity. While Islamabad brushed the incident under the carpet, the Pakistani media too has maintained silence over the matter.

(Rahul Kumar writes on international issues and is a keen watcher of South Asia, environment, urban development and NGOs.)

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