The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Tuesday made startling revelations about the deteriorating human rights crisis prevailing in Balochistan.
According to a report compiled by a fact-finding mission headed by renowned human rights activist Asma Jahangir, nationalist insurgency had escalated since the tragic assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti and acts of terrorism by various sectarian groups had claimed hundreds of lives of innocent civilians as well as of security forces.
HRCP said that people of Balochistan seemed to have expressed hope in the new provincial government but warned that people saw no signs of a change in policy within the security and intelligence agencies as the kill-and-dump acts continued unabated with torture and extra-judicial killings were rampant. HRCP noted that even as the new government was being sworn in, dead bodies were being discovered and there had been reports of missing people post-elections as well.
While the HRCP was in Balochistan, seven young men were reportedly picked up from Mathh area of Dera Bugti by the FC and subsequently summarily executed. Reportedly, their mothers were callously told to take a good look at the faces of their sons, as that would be their last opportunity to do so.
The HRCP said that it received conflicting reports over the pattern of terrorist attacks, adding that that some operational co-ordination existed between a number of terrorist organisations and Baloch militant groups.
However, HRCP maintained that such reports could not be verified until a serious investigation was launched into the matter.
The HRCP said that individuals as well as political elements welcomed the installation of a new democratic government and believed that the opportunity for tackling Balochistan’s challenges should not be lost.
“The federal government is expected to fully back the provincial government in its developmental works in the province and in extending its writ over the province as well as establishing civilian supremacy over the military intelligence agencies,” HRCP said.
HRCP reiterated that law and order situation in the province was dismal. Citizens were living in perpetual fear, HRCP said.
“Citizens have no security of life and indignity at the hands of the security forces is routine,” HRCP said. “Kidnapping for ransom is rising and the abductors are almost never traced. Religious minorities are particularly vulnerable.”
CIVIL SOCIETY OR LACK THEREOF
HRCP revealed that civil society organisations had virtually abandoned their work in the province. Women were particularly fearful and lived in perpetual intimidation by extremist forces. Sectarian militant groups operated with impunity and considered reprisals against the state their right if action was taken against them by the law enforcement for carrying out terrorist activities.
HRCP urged the government of Balochistan to appoint a human rights advisor so that the chief minister and the cabinet were fully updated with the human rights situation in the province.
At the same time, a provincial human rights commission should be set up through legislation that ought to be autonomous and given wide powers to monitor and redress human rights violations, HRCP said.
CALL TO SECURITY FORCES
HRCP called upon the security forces and intelligence agencies to operate within the Constitution and the law. HRCP said it had received credible reports of continued serious human rights violations, including disappearances of people, arbitrary arrests, torture and extra judicial killings.
HRCP reminded the security forces and the intelligence agencies that they would hurt the democratic process and further alienate people from the state if they continued with their oppressive policies.