Chief Justice Chaudhry: Balochistan Burns While Police Watch

Showing extreme frustration over senior police officials not appearing before his hearing today on Balochistan, Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry lashed out at them:

Chaudhry had summoned Inspector General (IG) Balochistan and relevant Superintendent Police (SP) in the court earlier today on an immediate notice.

“If the police officials failed to comply with the court’s order, they will be sent to jail,” he had warned.

He censured the law enforcement agencies for their incompetency in maintaining peace in the province and remarked that the courts are being kept uninformed about the factual details.

“Balochistan is on fire but the officials are mere spectators to it,” Chaudhry remarked.

The court also heard from three people who previously had been among the “missing”:

In another relevant development, three people who had been recovered from Kuchlak area were presented before the court.

They narrated their ordeal before the bench and said: “We were abducted from Quetta at night; we were blindfolded and then kept at some unknown location for about 40 days.”

The court issued release orders for the three recovered people and directed the police to safely escort them to their homes.

The number of missing people abducted by government forces is very much in dispute, as pointed out on Monday in the Express Tribune:

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VFBMP), an organisation striving for the safe recovery of missing persons, urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to hold monthly hearings on the issue in Quetta.

“Relatives are coming to Quetta with the hope that the chief justice will recover their loved ones who have been missing for years,” VFBMP Chairman Nasrullah Baloch told The Express Tribune.

Baloch added that the relatives of all 1,300 missing persons will appear before the court and record their statements before Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. “This move will prove that the government and its functionaries are lying (when they say) merely 47 persons are missing,” he said. Baloch further explained that commissions set up by the government were not cooperating – and were even trying to complicate the issue.

/snip/

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), as many as 172 people are missing from Balochistan while the Balochistan Home and Tribal Affairs Department stated that only 47 people are currently missing.

As I pointed out on Monday, Baloch rebels, in addition to being victims in government-related disappearances, also are taking action against road-building. That process is continuing, with at least ten road-building laborers being kidnapped today:

At least 10 labourers working on the Dera Bugti-Sui road were abducted by a group of armed men near Sui during the early hours of Thursday.

The District Police Officer Dera Bugti confirmed the kidnapping, adding that police and security forces have mounted a manhunt in the area for the safe recovery of the labourers.

The labourers were sitting in tents pitched beside the road under construction near Sui when a group of armed men abducted ten of them at gun point.

“A few labourers were left behind as they were sitting inside another tent,” official sources said.

There were eight Sindhi-speaking labourers belonging to Sadiqabad, one from Quetta and one local Bugti tribesman.

The situation in Balochistan is clearly very unstable and many factions are responsible for illegal acts. However, the fact that the Supreme Court now is taking notice and attempting to rein in both local police and the ISI while larger political discussions are also taking place raises at least the hope that tensions eventually can be eased. That is, unless a meddler tries to disrupt the process to advance his own extremist political ambitions.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.

7 replies
  1. PeasantParty says:

    Master of the Universe, Dana Meddler Rohrabacher already has caused my thoughts to jump directly to another US caused unrest. Sorry, can’t help myself. It is kinda ingrained in the mind these days.

  2. ondelette says:

    Hunh, what? The “situation” in Balochistan has been “unstable” for at least a decade. If something is making it more so now, it’s the impact of the flood, and the fact that perhaps the Chinese port at Gwadar and their pipeline up through Karakoram is getting more close to being finished, or maybe the pressure from the hundreds of thousands of refugees hemorrhaging from Khyber-Pakhtunkwa and Waziristan where the Pakistani government is conducting an offensive. At one point, the number of Baloch missing topped 4,000, around the end of the Musharraf regime, when he was bombing them on a regular basis.

  3. Jeff Kaye says:

    Rohrabacher is a cat’s paw for US ambitions to thwart China in the region, which has heated up over the past 10 years (as ondelette points out above) primarily because of the increasing importance of the Gwadar port and the oil pipeline to head through there.

    If you are a Boloch nationalist, the issue of Pakistani-built roads in this highly undeveloped area is understood as only to benefit Pakistani military in the region, the better to move troops, arms, etc. against them. From the Boloch standpoint, they still live in 1948 when their land was annexed by the Pakistanis. No insurgency lasts 60 years without a significant domestic layer of support.

    The US is playing the “great game,” and it is control of oil, energy, minerals, and geopolitical and economic assets that are at stake, with the US mostly concerned about China (and secondarily, Iran and Russia). The Pakistanis see the hidden hand of India, and act accordingly as their own great (regional) power ambitions dictate.

    It’s worth noting that Human Rights Watch published a report last year provocatively titled “‘We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’ –
    Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan.” According to HRW, “hundreds of people have been forcibly disappeared in Balochistan since 2005.”

    For those interested in this issue in general, there’s a very interesting 50 min. documentary from Al Jazeera: http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2012/01/2012121372863878.html

    Rorabacher is a fool, and not to be trusted. The Balochis are a squeezed lemon caught between the larger forces who have made their struggle a proxy war between them – US, Pakistan, India, China – not to mention the spill over, as ondelette points out, from the Afghanistan war to their north.

    This is certainly not the first nor the last time that a legitimate national struggle for self-determination is caught within the tentacles of larger political forces. It is a tremendously sad thing to see, and I will say it is hard not to feel sympathy for the Baloch people. They have a difficult battle against the Pakistani state, but if they accept the US-India carrot, they will find (as did the Afghan “freedom fighters” to their north) that they will not be able to escape the stick when it inevitably comes. This is the fate of every third world nationalist movement, that is subordinated sooner or later to some other great power contest.

  4. ondelette says:

    @Jim White: Yes, I know. You are right he’s meddling. And it isn’t a good thing. But you give the U.S. a whole lot more influence about the Baloch rebellion than it really has.

    The pipeline and port have a whole lot more to do with it, and the pipeline schedule has been thrown way off by the floods over the past 2 years — the roads collapsed up near the Chinese border in 2010 — and the Chinese deal with the Pakistani government isn’t any better for the Baloch who live there than the deals they make in Africa are good for the Africans who live where the mines or oilfields are scheduled to go.

    The Baloch have felt for decades that they are being used by the rest of the nation for their resources and given nothing — people who go on about the wonders of the parliamentary system should sit up and take notice about what happens to a large, minority, sparsely populated, resource rich state in a parliamentary system. It gets plundered and abused by the populous provinces for “the good of the many”.

    It’s really an easy mark for someone who wants to be divisive. At the end of the Musharraf regime, there were 4,000 missing Baloch, and Musharraf was bombing the shit out of the place with all the shiny new air force he was given to supposedly “fight terrorism”. So it’s not like they don’t have a legitimate gripe against the “Punjabis” (the Pakistani military is largely Punjabi).

  5. ryanwc says:

    It’s extremely unhelpful to talk about kidnappings most of which happened several years ago as “government-related.” There are many governments in Pakistan and they work in far less unison than in most countries. Almost as unhelpful is to talk about what has happened for decades as if it’s somehow a judgment on parliamentary government or parliamentary government in Pakistan, though parliament has had real control of the country for only a few short periods during that time.

  6. ondelette says:

    @ryanwc: You speak as though the government, when it changed hands, did a complete turnaround on Baloch relations. Can you document that? It did a lot to improve things with respect to what’s now Khyber-Pakhtunkwa, but Balochistan? Selling Gwadar to the Chinese? Wanna provide some proof?

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