The two prominent Baloch political leaders have been assassinated within three days by unknown assailants riding on motorbikes. It is alleged by the political and nationalist groups of the province that they were killed by law enforcement agencies to take revenge from the people of Balochistan for demanding greater autonomy.
Balochistan province is still in the strong grip of military and Para-Military forces. It is believed that they are responsible for the continuous disappearances of nationalists after their arrest by plain clothed men and the assassinations and extra judicial killings of political and nationalist leaders. Since 2001, during the regime of General Musharraf, there was a military operation for the control of the natural resources of the province including, natural gas deposits, oil fields, mines of copper, cobalt’s, deep sea port and others.
On July 11, a prominent Baloch leader and former Nazim (Mayor) of Turbat, Mr. Maula Baksh Dashti was assassinated while he was travelling in the car when two unknown persons riding on a motor bike attacked him with AK47 gun. Just three days after his assassination another prominent Baloch leader and former Senator Habib Jalib of Balochistan National Party was assassinated in the same manner in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. Then Mr. Habib Jalib was murdered in the early morning he went to the shop of his brother to read the newspapers. After the killings of the Baloch leaders the people of the province started protesting and the law enforcement agencies are dealing with them harshly using of tear gas and baton charges. They have arrested hundreds of protestors.
It is alleged by Baloch nationalists that the state intelligence agencies particularly, the ISI is involved in the killings of Baloch nationalists in the recent months. The investigations into the killings of three Balochi political leaders on April 9, 2009 have still not been completed. The three Balochi political leaders namely: Mr. Ghulam Muhhamd, Mr. Sher Muhammad Baloch and Lala Munir Baloch, were abducted from the office of their lawyer and on April 9, 2009 their mutiliated bodies were found. It is also alleged that police chief of the Quetta city and chief of Frontier Corp of the province are the main hindrance in the investigation of their killings.
It is a general impression that the role of the government of Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani is passive in dealing with the unconstitutional and illegal acts of the state agencies and the provincial police. Since the formation of the civilian government in April 2008, the government has not been able to deal with the military and its intelligence agencies that are allegedly responsible for the disappearances and extra judicial killings in the province after the announcement of withdrawal of military operation in 2009 by the Gillani government. Within the two and half years of Gillani’s government more than one hundred persons have been disappeared after their arrests and many persons were killed in extra judicial killings.
There are open threats from the high police officials to kill as many people if the attacks from subversive groups on the law enforcement are continued. A deputy inspector general of police, Naseerabad region of the Balochistan province, Mr. Ghulam Shabbir Shiekh, threatened in a press conference on August 21, 2009 to begin killing people indiscriminately in the province in retaliation. Mr. Ghulam Shabbir Shiekh, announced in his press conference that the police will kill 40 local persons in revenge for the militants alleged abduction and murder of 20 policemen in July and August. Mr. Shiekh also threatened that if any bullet was fired at the police, the police would fire 100 bullets indiscriminately back at the locality from where the bullet was fired. If any rocket was fired at police stations, the police would reply with 10 rockets.
The same police officer, Shabbir Sheikh, after being promoted as the Capital Chief Police officer (CCPO) of Quetta, again on May 5, 2010, threatened that the only effective way to deal with target killings is by targeting the perpetrators. Speaking to the media, according to the Daily Dawn of May 6, Sheikh said those people who were sending the dead bodies of innocent people, should be taught a lesson by receiving dead bodies of people from their own group.
The apathy of the government is that it has promoted that police officer who has openly threatened to kill indiscriminately with authority, but the government cannot move the law against him because of its inability to deal with the situation.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government to prosecute the CCPO of Quetta for the killings of the Baloch leaders, continuously threatening the people to kill if any police officer is killed by extremists and undermining the rule of law. It is also observed that after his threat to kill people, suddenly a wave of killing of Baloch activists started.
Since the beginning of 2009 there have been reports of killings targeting non-Balochi-speaking teachers. However, on August 22, two officers from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) were captured by the locals during an attempt to kill Mr. Haji Saleh Mohammad, a teacher from Mastung district near Quetta. Employment cards retrieved from the attackers indicated they were officers from Intelligence Bureau (IB). The Mastung police was reluctant to file reports against the officers, but they did carry out arrests following protests by the local people. The FC and the Pakistani Army tried to abduct the officers from the police station in order to rescue them. The civilian government has yet not investigated the case of abduction of IB officials.
The provincial and federal governments are mostly depending on the reports provided by the law enforcement agencies and implements the recommendations with out involving the political process or negotiations with the Baloch nationalists. In reality, however, no serious effort has yet been undertaken to resolve the rampant problem of illegal arrests and extra-judicial killings that plague Balochistan. Rather than adopting democratic institutions, Prime Minister Gilani has accused nationalist groups of being run by Indian agents. But still government has not come out with any proof about the involvement of any foreign hands in the Baloch insurgency.
The situation in the Balochistan province is deteriorating with the absence of rule of law and political process to deal with the aspirations of the people of the province. The latest killing of the Baloch leaders has widened the gap between the people and the government which can ultimately result in the complete anarchy, not only in Balochistan but to the other parts of the country. This is not the same era of 1971 when strong forces of the military and law enforcement agencies were deployed to crush the autonomy movement of the Bangali people and refusing the process of talk.
There is a strong need to withdraw all kinds of military and Para- Military forces and state intelligence agencies and allow the political process, stop the disappearances of the dissidents, prosecute the law enforcing officers who are involved in the extra judicial killings, abolish the special courts like anti terrorist courts and release all the persons who are disappeared or kept in incommunicado with the military torture cells.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.