Mengal’s modest proposals


Another Six Points, as the history would have it

When Sheikh Mujibur Rehman presented his Six-Point Program of regional autonomy, it met with denunciations from West Pakistan. Even a cursory reading of Awami League’s six points today would convince most of the follies of the politicians and the generals who rejected it and thus paved the way for the separation of East Pakistan. The trauma that the country had to pass through subsequently has left many, though not all, wiser. Mainstream parties, civil rights organizations, the lawyers bodies and courts have expressed deep concern over enforced disappearances. The visit of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) has internationalized the issue.
What is happening in Balochistan is no secret any more. Human rights bodies have published enough evidence incriminating those behind the acts of enforced disappearances and of dumping of dead bodies. The statements by the victims’ relatives before the Supreme Court have removed whatever doubts still persisted. A high ranking police officer produced a CCTV footage before the court showing men in FC uniform forcibly taking away missing persons Relatives have named officers of the agencies avowedly involved in the acts. Military officers leading the FC raids have been identified. Arrest warrants for a former chief of ISI Balochistan have been issued in a missing person’s case. At the apex court’s hearing on Wenesday, CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry bluntly directed the ISI and MI to abolish their death squads. The report by the Chief Secretary Balochistan presented before the SC on Thursday however indicates the persistence of a state of denial on the part of the establishment. The rigmarole cannot go on for long. The establishment would be harming the federation and defaming the country if it was to continue to cling to its present posture. The clumsy way the agencies shadowed the WGEID and gathered information about those who met the Working Group has sent a highly negative signal abroad.
There is a need to heed to Akhtar Mengal’s six points. What the former chief minister of Balochstan demands is by no means unreasonable. Stoppage of covert and overt military operations and rehabilitation of thousands of Balochis who have been dislocated in the process are modest calls. So are the demands for the production of the missing persons and bringing to justice those responsible for torture, killing and dumping of bodies. As far as Akhtar Mengal’s demand to end the agencies’ role in politics is concerned, this was strongly endorsed by the leaders of mainstream parties at their meeting with the CEC on Thursday.