Many of the 18,000 missing persons from the province could be dead

For Sammi (16), it was not the gruelling 27- day march from Quetta to Karachi that was a problem. “It was nothing compared to the torture my family and I have gone through in the last four years since my father went missing,” she said.

Sammi is one of the 12 women who walked for 27 days, covering a distance of 700 km, to protest against the treatment meted out to their male family members. “If there is another long march I will walk again. They picked up my father from a hospital in Mashkay at 1 am. We don’t know anything about him after that,” she said, speaking over the phone from Karachi.

Many of the 18,000 missing persons from the province could be dead, said Qadir Baloch, founder of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, adding that people are picked up by security agencies and they don’t come back for ten years, sometimes they never do and their bodies are dumped here and there with slips of paper in their pockets.

His son Jalil (30), a political worker with the Baloch Republican Party, was picked up. Three years later, his body was found in a village bordering Iran. It was a shock Mr. Baloch had to overcame to set up the organisation.

Such incidents made the Supreme Court take cognizance of the matter. As a result, an ongoing case demands accountability from the security agencies. Recently the apex court while directing the inspector general Frontier Corps (FC) to appear in court, said that there was credible evidence to establish that the FC was behind enforced disappearances in Balochistan. It has also been asking for the missing men to be produced in court, something which the government has promised. Mr. Baloch is not very optimistic about these orders. He said they have been issued in the past but nothing had come of it.

He has painstakingly prepared a list of 18,000 missing persons from the province since 2001. A list of 14,000 missing people was even submitted to the Supreme Court.  He has records of 1500 bodies which were dumped.

“It’s a daily record and we have all the details of names, ages, places where the person was picked up from and if he returned at all. Most of those missing are young men, but there were some children and 170 women,” he said. The bodies are found dumped in Balochistan and even in Karachi.

According to a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) fact finding mission titled “Hopes Fears and Alienation in Balochistan” of 2012, Balochistan is Pakistan’s most troubled province.