We are living in times of deceit. Certain developments call for serious introspection if our collective consciousness as a nation still pricks us. In the words of Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, if we do not change the direction, we may end up where we are heading – an implosion within.
Balochistan’s greatest crisis is of enforced disappearances. The worst manifestation of this is the enforced disappearance of Mahal Baloch on frivolous accusations. Mahal was described as a ‘suicide bomber’ and hence, she is under the custody of ‘notorious’ Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) with many days of remands. Plentiful protests and sit-ins took place, but their voices fell on deaf ears.
It has been long that Baloch nation is challenged by brutal practices of state institutions. However, a lot of people, including men and women, young and old, have the courage to resist the pressure exerted by the institutions which misuse their authority. It is a fact that files move faster when palms are greased. It is the steady work of authorities that the issue of enforced disappearances continues to fester and becomes an unresolved malady due to the impunity enjoyed by certain state agencies. In addition, strange things happen in our beloved land of Balochistan.
Let’s have a glance over 2022 that was full of human tragedies in Balochistan with its people being subjected to massacres and violence; institutions including CTD and Frontier Corps subjected hundreds of Baloch men, women and children in various areas of Balochistan. 629 Baloch were forcibly disappeared, 187 suffered tortures while 194 were killed extrajudicially only in 2022. Meanwhile, within the two months of 2023, Human Rights Council of Balochistan received reports of enforced disappearances of at least 63 people. It has also received reports of killing of more than 40 people.
The institutions continue to forcibly abduct or disappear Baloch to silence their voices. Currently, Mahal Baloch, along with other Baloch people, is framed in different fabricated and bogus cases.
Either directly or indirectly, enforced disappearances has lasting effects on victims and their families. The well-being of victims is neglected in the society. Pakistani forces have to understand how enforced disappearances affect individuals. Victims of enforced disappearances can be classified either as ‘direct’ or ‘secondary’ victims.
A direct victim refers to those who suffer from malpractices of forces, while secondary victims are the next of kin or dependant of direct victim. Let’s take the example of Mahal Baloch who is the direct victim, on the other hand, her family along with Baloch nation are secondary victims who are still awaiting for their dear ones.
Balochistan has incurred heavy human losses as a consequence of enforced disappearances which is igniting fire among Baloch youth. Balochistan has lost thousands of souls in two decades, and unheard voices of victims echo greatly in the land; this sows the seed of hatred in people and disrespects the right to life as enshrined in Article 9 of the constitution of Pakistan. Negotiations between families and government have always become fruitless. This is the reason why humanitarian crisis in Balochistan deepens as well as issue is unseen.
Pakistani institutions boldly violates the rights of Baloch. Against this backdrop, both state and society need to initiate serious dialogues to ensure a safe and secure land to Baloch nation where Baloch would enjoy their privileges and are protected against human rights violation, enforced disappearances and crimes. According to George Eliot: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
One can hope that it is not too late to tackle the fatal and crippling issue of enforced disappearances. The issue is grave and solution lies in addressing the grievances of people.