`Balochistan Situation Needs Urgent Attention’:

Afrasiab Khattak (Credit: awaminationalparty.org)

QUETTA: The Functional Committee of Senate on Human Rights has rejected a report presented by the Provincial Home Department over law and order situation and human rights violations in Balochistan.

The committee expressed serious concerns over the recovery of mutilated bodies of missing persons, targeted killing of labourers, doctors, teachers and an increasing number of kidnappings for ransom in the province.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Afrasiab Khattak here on Wednesday and was briefed by Home Secretary Naseebullah Bazai. Other members included Senator Surriya Amiruddin, Senator Farhat Abbas and Senator Hafiz Rasheed.

Addressing a news conference, Senator Khattak said the committee held its meeting in Quetta to assess the current situation of the province in detail. “The human rights situation is grave here, particularly recovery of mutilated bodies and incidents of kidnapping for ransom are matters of great concern. These issues must be taken up seriously and sincere efforts are needed by the government to normalise the situation,” he said.

The recovery of mutilated bodies, Khattak said, gave a message that the state and its institutions did not consider them their own people but rather their enemy. “The people will definitely look up to others for help if they are continuously pushed against the wall.”

The committee chairman said federal and provincial governments should take notice of this serious issue and bring the culprits to book. “There is a common perception that secret agencies are involved in enforced disappearances and dumping of mutilated bodies. If this is true, then government should control its institutions as they are damaging Pakistan’s sovereignty,” he urged.

He said some militant groups are also targeting labourers and teachers. “Violence in any shape is wrong and unjustified. Those who are involved in these killings are not the well wishers of Balochistan,” he said.

The functional committee said that targeted killing of people belonging to the Hazara community was not sectarian violence, rather an act of terrorism and that terrorist groups are behind these killings. The committee sought a report on the murder of police surgeon Dr Baqar Shah, key witness of Kharotabad massacre of foreign nationals.

The committee further suggested that laws should be introduced to curtail the power and influence of security agencies and that they should be brought under parliamentary control.

Kidnapping of Hindu people was also discussed during the meeting and the committee stated it will pressurise the provincial government to ensure the protection of life and property of minorities.

Senator Khattak said that the government cannot get away by just stating that foreign elements are involved in destabilising this province. “They should investigate what circumstances have paved way for foreign involvement. The people will look towards foreigners if their rights are trampled down by their own people,” he said.

The Senate committee said that the government should hold talks with angry Baloch people to address their grievances for a durable peace in Balochistan.

“All the Baloch political parties must be taken into confidence because if government can agree to hold talks with Taliban militants then why not with our Baloch brothers?” the committee questioned.
Gilani concedes there is a problem in Balochistan

With the Senate too taking notice of human right violations in Balochistan, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani too admitted on Wednesday that there was a problem in the country’s largest province. He intends to convene an All Parties Conference (APC) to discuss and address the issues of Balochistan, particularly the law and order situation, through collective wisdom.

“There is a law and order situation in Balochistan, which has to be addressed. We are also talking with the coalition partners in this respect,” Gilani said in an interaction with senior newspaper editors at the Prime Minister House. The Prime Minister also mentioned the incumbent government’s initiative of “Aghaz-e-Haqooq-Balochistan” to remove the sense of deprivation of the people of that province, conceding, however, the law and order situation in Balochistan had overshadowed the initiative.

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