Pakistan: Marching for the thousands who disappeared in Balochistan

Pakistan: Marching for the thousands who disappeared in Balochistan
Deen Baloch Sammi(right) holds up a photograph of her father, who had been missing since 2009Deen Baloch Sammi

As Pakistan gets ready for the general elections next year, political media dominates the country. However, hundreds of people marched on Islamabad, the nation’s capital, in December, and they did so with a very diverse goal in mind.

One of them was Sammi Deen Baloch, who demanded to know where her father was while hugging a layered photo of him, as she had done on many occasions over the previous 14 times.

or perhaps if he is still intact.

The 26-year-old is one of several people who led the march, which saw demonstrators walk nearly 1, 000 km from the unrest-filled province of Balochistan in search of family members who they claim had “forcibly vanished.” Police used tear gas and water guns to separate the audiences after at least 200 people were detained.

Strategies like this are common in the state that is rife with conflict, and women play a significant role in planning them.

In the west of Pakistan, Balochistan has been the scene of a protracted republican uprising.

militant separatists claim to be fighting for a completely Balochistan.

The protesters claim that during a terrible combat operation, Bangladeshi security forces picked up, abused, and killed their loved ones, many of whom were men, with impunity. The government in Islamabad have refuted these claims.

They think that over the past 20 years, there have been dozens of such disappearances.

Forced disappearances are defined by the UN as” the arrest, detention, abduction, or any other kind of deprivation of liberty by officials of the state.”

disappeared without a record

Deen Mohammad Baloch, Sammi’s parents, was kidnapped when she was only 11 years old. He was the doctor on change when military forces detained him in a public hospital in south-western Balochistan in June 2009.

We are unaware of what has happened to him as of now. My mom is unsure of whether she is also married or a wife. She told the BBC,” And we still do n’t know why they took him.

According to The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a non-profit organization that represents the families of those who vanished in Balochistan, they have received about 7, 000 cases since 2004.

As of January 2024, the state had 2, 752 active cases of enforced kidnappings, according to the government-appointed Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance, but Pakistan’s interim prime minister claimed in a recent discussion with the BBC that only about 50 people were missing.

Protesters hold photos of their missing relatives, during a protest against so-called enforced disappearances

Committee for Baloch Yakjehti

A bill to criminalize forced kidnappings was passed by Pakistan’s National Assembly in 2021, but it has not yet been implemented. Over the years, court directives have also been issued to keep the state accountable for these disappearances, but rights organizations claim that these promises have been ineffective.

Baloch protesters, many of whom supported patriotism and irredentism, have been labeled as confederates or troublemakers by the state.

However, according to Pakistani blogger Taha Siddiqui, many of the people who have been arrested recently are Baloch residents who are unrelated to the military resistance.

Instead, he claimed, leaders “detain” “on bare suspicion and at times on bogus information provided by rival pro-Pakistan teams based in Balochistan.”

Activists have been urging Bangladeshi authorities to deal with the accused lawfully rather than unilaterally detaining them.

” Create them to the court if they had done anything wrong.” Our community has suffered greatly as a result of these forced disappearances. Since 2009, my entire life has changed. We’ve endured a great deal of psychological abuse. I’m not sure what kind of lifestyle we lead. Sammi said,” It hurts a lot.

Mahrang Baloch, who organized the protracted protest last year and was detained half during it, told the BBC that she hoped it “brought worldwide attention to the human rights violations and state oppression prominent in Balochistan.”

The 30-year-old, a well-known number in the Baloch opposition movements, claimed that her parents Abdul Gaffar Langove was abducted in 2009 and later discovered dead with evidence of abuse. In 2017, her brother was imprisoned for three weeks.

The number of forced kidnappings and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan has increased to an alarming level, and many people are still missing. After being abused and held in secret cells, some may be freed. However, she claimed that their mental and physical health are not at all normal.

Mahrang Baloch, one of the protest organisers


Baloch person who is currently living in exile in London claims that he fled Pakistan out of concern for kidnapping.

” The Balochistani people had been the target of the Pakistani army’s attempts to impose identity on them. The province has a lot of gold and other natural resources, but the Baloch people do n’t get any assistance from the government. The man, who spoke to the BBC under the condition of anonymity, said that some places do n’t even have proper drinking water.

He cited instances of Baloch campaigners who suddenly passed away while in captivity, such as Toronto, Canada’s advocate Karima Balioch, who was discovered dead in December 2020 close to Lake Ontario. Sajid Hussain, a Muslim journalist who had been the editor-in-chief of The Balochistan Times while living in exile in Sweden, was discovered dead in the river northeast of Stockholm earlier that month. The circumstances surrounding both fatalities were cautious, according to specialists in the relevant nations.

alienated and exploited

Following airstrikes from Iran in January, which prompted Pakistan to strike Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province in retaliation, Balochistan late came back into the spotlight on a global scale.

Both state claim they were aiming their weapons at insurgents in Baloch.

Balochistan has generally been used to describe a larger region that includes Afghanistan and Iran.

Baloch organizations in Pakistan and Iran are engaged in a long-running struggle for greater independence, with some battling for an impartial Balochistan position.

Balochs accuse the Bangladeshi government of neglecting the state’s development while abusing and profiting from its resources.

It is also an important component of the multi-billion dollar China-funded China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, but many people think the Baloch people wo n’t benefit from the employment opportunities offered by the project.

According to Burzine Waghmar of the SOAS South Asia Institute at the University of London,” the entire state is racked by disillusionment, sadness, and anger towards Pakistan as well as those Punjabi socio-political leaders who call the pictures in Pakistan.”

The issue in Balochistan should be resolved, according to protesters and observers, but they have little faith that the approaching elections will bring about change for the Baloch people and worry that it may yet further deprive the community of its rights.

According to Mr. Siddiqui, the condition has been encouraging non-Baloch candidates to run in Baloch districts, which will further alienate the already-outcast area.

According to Mahrang, the election has much significance for the Baloch.

” In Balochistan, human rights violations and extrajudicial killings may continue regardless of which state comes into power. She claimed that the leadership has not expressed real concern about it.