There is no hope for missing Baloch, be it Sharif or Zardari

The outcome of the February 8 elections has made no difference to the people of Balochistan; who continue to `disappear` or being killed as terrorists and their family members are treated as shabbily and cruelly as enemies, by the State.

Neither Shehbaz Sharif, who took over as the Prime Minister despite not winning a majority nor Imran Khan, who remains in prison despite winning the elections; have made any references towards the plight of people of Baluchistan.

The elections and its results have only made matters worse for Baloch who have been pleading every single institution, be it the legislature, the police, judiciary and the media, for the release of young and old Baloch kept in secret prisons by the Pak army.

A young doctor, Dr Mahrang Baloch, slept outside the Islamabad Press Club for weeks along with her crowd of protesters, and no one came out from their ivory towers to even talk to them. The army, on the other hand, snatched their blankets, mikes and other essentials, fired water cannons at them in peak winter days and then forced the press club to withdraw permission to hold the protest. The then interim Prime Minister, belonging to Balochistan, had abused them as `traitors` and refused to help them. Instead, he ordered the local police to harass the young doctor and her companions.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has also chosen to play a game of charade on the sensitive issue of beloved ones taken away forcibly by state agencies and locked up in secret prisons of torture. The apex court had been making loud noises about holding high officials of government and military accountable for countless disappearances of young Baloch, but the action in reality has been a mirage. Even in the latest case, the apex court had summoned the Interim Prime Minister but when he declined to attend the court on some pretext, the judges were quick to set up a committee of chiefs of three intelligence agencies, ISI, MI and IB, to find the whereabouts of the missing Baloch. There could have been nothing more humiliating and hypocritical. The world is aware that these are the same agencies which are behind the grave human rights violation of abducting and killing Baloch and other ethnic minorities, since creation of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s largest English daily, the Dawn, commented in its editorial that the state has more often blocked any effort to find a solution to the Baloch missing persons. The newspaper even chided the Interim Prime Minister for accusing the protesters like Mahrang Baloch of indulging in terrorism. The daily blamed the state for cruelly dismissing the protests as publicity stunts but facts are telling–people from Balochistan are disappearing every day with their families forced to march on the streets to know about their whereabouts.

Now that Shehbaz Sharif is the new Prime Minister and Asif Ali Zardari as the President, is there any likelihood of the issue of missing persons getting any priority. The answer is a clear ‘No’. Neither Sharif nor the Bhutto family, who have not actually won the mandate to rule, have shown any inclination to even hear Dr. Mahrang Baloch and other protesters even when they sat in Islamabad seeking the return of their loved ones. The hopelessness of the Baloch and Sindhi people has become so pervasive that they do not harbour any hope from anyone.

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