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Monday, 11 March 2013

Missing persons

Missing persons

Baloch nationalists put the number of missing people at 23,000. PHOTO: FILE
The Balochistan conflict has caused too many casualties. The military, in its many operations against the separatists, has made a habit of killing and abducting anyone suspected of being a separatist.
Where the dispute arises is over just how many people are “missing”, a euphemism for being held by the military. A judicial commission looking into the matter puts the number at 621, while Baloch nationalists claim that the figure is closer to 23,000.
We do not know which figure is accurate since we have no idea how many people have been picked up by the military. None of this, however, changes the fact that not a single person should be illegally detained by any government entity.
On top of that, the bodies of two men who have gone missing from Balochistan showed up in Karachi, an occurrence that has become all too frequent.
The judicial commission on Balochistan has been a useful venue for airing out grievances and showing just how much the military is hated by nationalists for its suppression of the Baloch.
But on its own, it is unlikely to achieve much. The nationalists do not trust the judges, while the military has no interest in being submitted to justice. Ultimately, accountability for the actions of the military should go all the way to the top but in Pakistan today, there is simply no chance that the chief of army staff will defend his conduct in open court.
The military is not used to accountability and it isn’t about to start having its actions questioned now.
Quite rightly, the Baloch are not about to come to the negotiating table as long as the military refuses to own up to past misdeeds and demonstrates a genuine commitment to peace in the province.
Separatist sentiment is continually on the rise in Balochistan and this, above all, can be attributed to the military and its draconian actions, including the abduction of anyone suspected of having nationalist tendencies. Forced disappearances and torture are not about to give the Baloch hope in the future of Pakistan.