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Thousands of Baloch have gone missing, yet world is in slumber

Updated September 8, 2020 15:30 IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (IANS)

Troubling stories and pictures appear when you go through the Facebook page of the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. While the world is waking up to the plight of the Uighur Muslims in China, it is time that it also took a more serious look into the situation in Balochistan, a desert region bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

While Akhtar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) gave a list of over 5,000 missing persons, when he joined Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s coalition government, he quit just earlier this year as he failed to get the voice of the Baloch people heard.

“When he led the BNP into an alliance with Khan’s coalition two years ago, Akhtar Mengal gave the government a list of 5,128 missing people. Since then, more than 450 of the people on the list have been found or returned to their families, but during the same period, Mengal says another 1,800 were reported to have disappeared,” a report by Al Jazeera published in July said.

Many have raised their concerns over the timid response over the issue by international organizations such as the United Nations and International Court of justice.

While Pakistan is not known for its commitment to human rights, the pitiable situation in Balochistan is especially unnerving as thousands of Baloch have gone missing since.

Peaceful protests with photographs of the missing people and placards seeking justice against Pakistan oppression are a way of life in Balochistan. But the tragedy is that there are few who take note of the situation.

Sample this. Recently, the police in Quetta arrested Baloch and Pashtun students for holding peaceful protests for unavailability of internet connection for their online classes. The Baloch have been holding peaceful protests since June 2009 after the abduction of Deen Muhammad, a doctor.

Like Muhammad, many friends and relatives of those who have disappeared have been gathering just outside the Press Club of Quetta seeking answers from the government. Their efforts have gone in vain.

“Due to the silence and numbness of the civilized world and Human rights organizations and lack of the media or other means in Balochistan, this issue has been suppressed until this day,” Riyaz Baloch wrote in an article published by ANI.

“There is a long history of enforced disappearances in Pakistan occupied Balochistan. While thousands of Balochs have been abducted and disappeared since its illegal occupation, hundreds of others have been eliminated in the line of Pakistan’s ‘kill and dump’ policy. Thousands still remain unaccounted for,” he added.

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