For almost over a month, the families of Baloch missing persons have been protesting outside the Governor’s house in the red zone asking for the formation of a judicial commission – which was formed by the provincial government – to probe the case of the recent Ziarat incident where nine persons (suspected to be terrorists) were killed by the state forces as they were reported to be linked with a separatist group. This development came despite assurance from Chief of Army Staff that there would be no such incidents involving ‘missing persons’ in future. On the other hand, the recent floods due to the heavy rainfalls have brought havoc in the most deprived province of Balochistan by adding more to the social and economic tensions of the people. Given these queries, Balochistan stands in the midst of deprivation and least attention from the government.

Right after the Eid, an army oftficr was abducted and killed by a separatist organisation between Ziarat and Quetta, in response to which the armed forces launched an operation in the area. After few days, the publicity wing of the army or the ISPR claimed of killing nine persons belonging to the banned outfit. When the corpses were transferred to civil hospital Quetta (capital city of Balochistan province) they were gradually identified as those of the “missing persons” by their family members whose cases were registered with Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a non-profitable organisation working for the recovery of Baloch missing persons. VBMP claimed to have registered those cases with governmental officials and submitted to the courts as well. The families protested and turned to the red zone outside Governor’s house in Quetta from July 21 onwards. However, neither government nor any member of armed forces have met them to listen to what they have to say.

Their demands are not illegal nor are their concerns invalid as they only demand clarity about their beloved kinsmen. If the Chief Minister of Balochistan feels their demands are valid – which he signaled with the formation of a judicial commission – it is unusual why he has been ambivalent about wholeheartedly supporting the families ? In fact, CM’s statement after the formation of the commission, too, was controversial. In a statement, he said: “People were on edge on Ziarat incident due to which a misunderstanding was growing between the masses and the institutions. To remove the misunderstanding of the masses, the judicial commission was formed.” With his statement, he has already convicted the Baloch families and saying that the commission would only remove the misunderstanding of the masses while acquitted the latter party before the probe. Are the families – who are eyewitnesses to these arrests and disappearances – having a misunderstanding with the institutions? This comes across as demoralizing statement.

The problems do not end here. The recent floods have devastated a large portion of the region causing heavy damage to life and property. According to the Balochistan’s Chief Secretary, 127 people have lost their lives owing to the recent floods due to the rains including seven members of the same family. He added that around ten thousand homes got destroyed across the region, including the destruction of around 565 kilometers of roads and hundreds of thousands if hectares of agricultural lands. It has also destroyed the agricultural patterns in Makran region.

The floods and losses were thoroughly neglected for so long until very recently when the masses took to the government for their incumbency towards the flood victims and losses. Chief Minister Balochistan, after his short visit to Lasbela region, went to Islamabad for things other than the recent issues of Balochistan, while the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif visited Balochistan and announced for ten lakh of financial assistance to the families whose human life was lost including financial assistance to those whose houses were damaged.

But things would have been different if the government took early actions to avoid casualties caused until now. For instance, when the floods had caused early losses, government could take measures to keep the masses away from such areas where they were likely to be affected with floods. There has been a sort of indifference on part of the authorities regarding flood relief. .

On one hand, where the families of Baloch missing persons have been protesting before the government to be heard by sitting in heavy rains at Quetta for around two weeks without being visited by any governmental official, on the other hand, the recent floods have furthered the vulnerabilities of the residents of the region. People from across Balochistan, in the aftermath of the floods, have appealed for nationwide support. Meanwhile, people’s faith in the parliamentary procedure has dwindled.


Image – Adobe Stock

By Ali Jan Maqsood

The writer studies Law at University Law College Quetta and tweets at @Allijanmaqsood12

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