More than 300 Baloch disappeared under Zardari’s rule; one more bullet-riddled body found Wednesday

August 12

More than 300 Baloch freedom and civil rights activists have been involuntarily and forcibly disappeared in Balochistan by the Pakistani state secret services since the advent of the civilian government of Pakistan Peoples Party, according to the lead organization working to help the victim families in Quetta, capital of Balochistan.

“This year there have been 50 cases, in addition to the seven bodies that have been found so far,” Nasrullah Baloch, president of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, said on phone from Quetta.

“The body of Azizullah Baloch was found from the bypass yesterday,” he said. “There was a bullet hole in his head.”

He said in the majority of cases, the V.M.B.P. had succeeded in getting the first information report [FIR] lodged with the police, but in many cases the police refuses to book a case saying that it does not have the authority to register a case against intelligence agencies.

The Bangkok-based Asian Human Rights Commission has observed that the higher courts are not taking the cases of disappearances seriously, adding “the courts have not shown any determination to hold the state security agencies responsible for these disappearances despite of overwhelming testimony by family members implicating the state agencies.”

Speaking on phone from Bangkok, Baseer Naveed, Pakistan researcher for the A.H.R.C., said as many as 110 enforced disappearances were brought to the notice of the commission since the new government took power in Islamabad.

“Other than Balochistan in Pakistan, we get cases from India’s northeast Manipur and Assam, Bangladesh borders, the Philllipines, Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.” Naveed said.

Of the 50 missing persons — the term used for enforced disappearances in Balochistan — Nasrullah Baloch said only a couple of cases, that of Bohair Bangulzai and Mehbub Wadela, have been lodged with the U.N. Working Group on Involuntary and Enforced Disappearances in Geneva, courtesy of the A.H.R.C.

The five-member U.N. group in Geneva is headed by Jeremy Sarkin.

“The authorities have made an example of us, a kind of negative role model,” Baloch said. “They tell the new victim families about our plight and warn them they will also meet the same fate if they protest,” he adds.

Baloch’s uncle Ali Asghar Bangulzai was abducted by Pakistan’s secret services more than nine years ago and the family has knocked the doors of the court without success.

Nasrullah Baloch said victim families are bullyied by the men in uniform, secret service agents and sometimes tribal elders to keep them mum.

“Most of the victims are very poor political workers,” he said

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