621 killed in Balochistan’s maze violence in 2011

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Throughout history, Balochistan and its issues have been a bone of contention for Pakistan. The history taught in Pakistani schools does not elaborate on the circumstances under which Pakistan came into being and Balochistan joined it.
Speakers expressed these views during an event organised by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) at its office to launch three of its annual publications, including ‘Balochistan’s Maze of Violence’. Balochistan National Party vice president Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo said since Pakistan’s struggle for freedom began the Baloch people were not made a part of the process, despite which Baloch sardars opted to join Pakistan in 1947. He stated that even after 65 years, the Baloch are still not a part of the political process.
Bizenjo said the 1973 military operation set the stage for separatist sentiments in Balochistan and that in 1977, the first militant organisation, Balochistan Popular Liberation was formed. “Today, the military is ruling the province through the Frontier Constabulary and is duly guided by the Inter-Service Intelligence,” he said. He stated that the present civilian government had failed to change the status quo in the hapless province. He added that the first case of mutilated bodies surfaced just ten days after Prime Minister Gillani’s speech in the Parliament in which he announced the Balochistan Rights’ Package on November 24, 2009.
He suggested that as a way forward, the government should stop the killing of the missing people and recover them.
The ‘Balochistan’s Maze of Violence’ report underlined that the situation in Balochistan continued to aggravate with the passage of time, despite the government’s efforts to curtail the violence and win back the trust of the Baloch people.
The report stated that the present government announced the NFC Award and the Balochistan Rights’ Package in 2009 to curb the militancy in the province, yet the situation on ground remained stubbornly volatile as the central and provincial governments’ were indifferent towards addressing the Balochistan issue.
The parliamentary committee constituted by the Parliament in August 2011 to ascertain the causes behind the deteriorating law and order situation in the province, has yet to visit the province. According to the report, violent incidents left 621 people dead during 2011, out of which 281 people were shot dead in different incidents of target killing, 68 fell prey to two suicide attacks, while bomb blasts and landmine explosions claimed 120 lives. The ongoing ‘kill and dump’ incidents claimed another 231 lives, when mutilated and bullet-ridden dead bodies were found in different parts of the province.
According to the Balochistan Home Department, the government estimates that 196 bodies of missing persons were discovered, mostly from the Baloch dominated districts of the province. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan about 6000 people are still missing in the province.
The report also stated that a steep rise in sectarian violence was the hallmark of 2011. It said the Balochistan government estimates suggested that 117 people lost their lives in 20 incidents of sectarian violence, 92 of whom belonged to the Shia sect of the Hazara community, which mostly lives in and around Quetta city. Also, there were 102 incidents of sabotage and subversion in the province, targeting railway tracks and gas pipelines. During 2011, militants’ relentless attacks on security forces resulted in the killing of 218 FC personnel among others. The Baloch Republican Army and Balochistan Liberation Front claimed responsibility for most of these attacks.
The year 2011 ended with the gruesome killing of Dr Baqir Shah (the police surgeon, who performed the autopsies of the foreigners killed in the Kharotabad incident). The report said 2012 was proving to be just as violent, as almost 60 people have lost their lives in different episodes of violence in January 2012. The report added that the Baloch people are being targeted in other provinces as well. Three family members of Baloch lawmaker (Sahabzada Bkhtiar Khan Domki, a relative of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti) were gunned down in Karachi. Summing up the situation, the report stated that the situation in Balochistan was taking a turn for the worst and that it foresaw more violent incidents to surface in 2012.