By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
The establishment, if it goes ahead with its plan, which in all probability it will, will be committing a barbarity of unparalleled magnitude
It was a cool night of November 7, 2010. Faiz Mohammad Mazarani Marri’s torture-inflicted wounds were being nursed at his house in Metroville, Karachi (Gulshan) by his old parents. He had returned home three weeks earlier after having been in the custody of the intelligence agencies. That night a posse of Sindh Rangers, police and other intelligence agencies personnel descended on their place. On the insistence of his aged parents they confirmed their identity and let them see the official cars parked outside. On March 2, 2011, his badly disfigured body was found in Gwandain Dasht area near Quetta. He was buried at the ‘Baloch Martyrs Graveyard’, New Kahan, Quetta.
Marri will now be joined there by his brother Khudadad Marri, who was picked up on June 24 along with his cousin Bijjar Marri by Pakistani military and intelligence agencies from a passenger bus between Bakhtiarabad and Rabi area of Balochistan. On July 1, a police party found a badly tortured body in Dera Allahyar, Jaffarabad district, Balochistan. It was Khudadad, and as Mohammad Hanif says, he was now no longer missing but Bijjar Marri still is; the increasingly insecure establishment has become extremely brutal and vicious. With Khudadad’s martyrdom the number of my former students killed has reached 17. Many other friends and students are still missing.
Two more brothers, also my students, have the Baloch Martyrs Graveyard as their last resting place. Mohammad Nabi, the younger son of Baz Mohammad Pirdadani, was abducted by the personnel of Pakistani intelligence around 4:00 pm from Saryab area on April 4, 2012, while the elder Mohammad Khan was abducted two hours later from Jinnah Town, Quetta. Their mother had appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) and International Human Rights Organisations but on May 28, three tortured, blindfolded bodies, stuffed in a bag, were found in the Ferozabad area of Quetta. Police said that the hands of the deceased were tied behind their backs. They were identified as Mohammad Khan, Mohammad Nabi Marri and Mehran Khan Kiyazai. A relative of theirs, Gullay Marri, who received their bodies, was disappeared some days later and his fate remains unknown. The picture of the brave mother of these two martyred brothers with her grandchildren alongside her sons’ Balochistan flag-covered grave is iconic for the defiance and pain it symbolizes, but then such iconic Baloch images never make it to the mainstream media.
The three-year-old Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) has not solved the missing persons’ problem. The SC recently expressed disappointment over its working, non-implementation of its recommendations and non-cooperation by the intelligence agencies in tracing the missing persons, especially when they had been blamed for their disappearances. This was foreseen and expected but what came as a shock and disappointment for the relatives of the missing persons was that the new Attorney General Muneer A Malik said the issue of missing persons was a legacy of dictatorial eras and would take decades to be resolved, which means there is never going to be a closure to their families’ sufferings.
As if this bombshell was not enough, an Urdu daily on July 4 reported that a general amnesty for the abductors, torturers and killers of missing persons on a pattern similar to Argentina and Chile is being considered. This way they say that those in custody will be brought to the courts and charged with anti-state activities while those who committed atrocities against them will go scot-free. This is victors’ justice or should it be called perpetrators’ justice by which all those illegal abductions, tortures and killings will get legal sanction while the victims and their relatives will have suffered, from the legal point of view, quite justifiably?
The French Revolution’s best known figure Maximilian Robespierre said, “To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity.” The establishment, if it goes ahead with its plan, which in all probability it will, will be committing a barbarity of unparalleled magnitude. Implementation of this barbarity is in the offing because there are people like Dr Malik Baloch and Akhtar Mengal who flaunt nationalist credentials but serve the establishment and undermine the real nationalist struggle explicitly or implicitly. Nationalism comes at a price; it is not a sticker label that can be stuck on to any commodity and sold. Mengal has cast his lot with the establishment while criticising it for atrocities and giving calls for strikes against the security forces’ vendetta, violation of sanctity of houses, enforced disappearances and the kill and dump incidents, threatening indefinite closure of the national highway. Hunting with the hounds and running with the hare never helped anyone secure a place in history.
Dr Malik, in an interview, said that he does not want confrontation with the Frontier Corps (FC) and will collectively solve all the issues facing Balochistan. It would not be out of place to remind readers that there is ample evidence that the FC is directly involved in enforced disappearances; the SC has said it on record. Moreover, not without reason, politicians and bureaucrats say it runs a parallel government. It is like asking the fox to tend the chickens but then Dr Malik knows he would not last a day without his mentors’ consent. In the interview he announced one million rupees compensation for those killed by militants and terrorists, but ironically, not even a word of sympathy for those killed by the establishment and its proxy death squads.
A national daily on June 29 said in its section, “Fifty years ago”: Then opposition leader Sardar Bahadur Khan gave a statement in the Assembly. He said that a concentration camp was set up in Quetta during the Martial Law days. Four hundred persons were detained in the camp, headed by a Major of the Army whose behaviour was high-handed. He said, “I complained to the General Officer Commanding but nothing was done. The people were tortured and given electric shocks in this camp.” He also drew the attention to the ‘pitiable’ condition of then under arrest Baloch leader Akbar Khan Bugti’s family who weren’t even being allowed benefits of their agricultural land. Half a century down the road the attitudes have worsened with killings replacing detentions. Recently, the army’s netball team, piqued after losing to the Balochistan team, made obscene gestures, which resulted in a fight and the Balochistan team was badly mauled. Imagine what must be the attitude when they are armed.”
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org