‘Disappeared’ still haunt Balochistan: HRW
Islamabad, July 28: The abductors often show up in sleek pickup trucks, wearing civilian clothes but sometimes flanked by Pakistani troops. They often beat and blindfold their victims before spiriting them away. And while the prisoners may wind up dead, odds are the captors will never face justice.
Despite ousting a military ruler three years ago, Pakistan’s civilian leaders have failed to stop security agencies from carrying out such “enforced disappearances” in Balochistan province, where Baloch separatists have led a long-running insurgency, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Thursday.
The security practice of abducting people has grown rapidly since Pakistan officially sided with the US after the September 11 attacks and rounded up numerous al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects to hand over to Washington without a trial. Islamabad soon began using the tactic against groups that it considered domestic threats, such as the Baloch nationalists, the report said.
The report documents cases of such abductions, most of them from 2009-2010, and relies on interviews with more than 100 people, including relatives of victims and people who were detained, then later released. Three cases involved disappeared children as young as 12.
Though not limited to Balochistan, the report found that such disappearances are “a distinctive feature” of the conflict in the southwest region, where ethnic Baloch have many grievances, including a desire for a larger share of the revenue from the area’s natural resources.
Bashir Azeem, an activist with the Baloch Republican Party, was seized at least three times, in 2005, 2006 and 2009. He told the New York-based rights group that he was subject to interrogations, threats and physical torture.
Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province, covering 44 per cent of the country and bordering Afghanistan and Iran. It is also the most sparsely populated province, with around eight million people out of the total population of 180 million.
Those in custody are typically tortured, through beatings, sleep deprivation and other methods, the report said. It noted that media organisations have reported more than 70 bodies of missing people were found between July 2010 and February 2011 in Balochistan.
The circumstances surrounding the abductions are often similar. Many are carried out during the day in busy areas, with witnesses around. Although the perpetrators usually wear civilian clothes, 16 cases documented by Human Rights Watch involved men in paramilitary uniforms. (AP)
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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