Balochistan is in throes of violence; apart from a large number of sectarian killings, Punjabis, Pashtuns and non-Balochis have been killed. Seven coal mine workers hailing from Swat who were earlier kidnapped have been murdered in cold blood, and their bodies were found on Thursday in Degari.
The Balochistan Liberation Army had earlier claimed the responsibility for abduction, and it is most likely that they have been killed by now.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has taken a cognisance of this brutal incident and directed the law enforcement agencies to apprehend the culprits within three days. A day earlier, holding the Frontier Constabulary responsible for the missing persons and deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan, the CJ remarked: “Every third man was being picked up by the Frontier Corps in Balochistan.” Unfortunately, the incident occurred at a time when Justice Iftikhar was addressing the missing persons’ case.
That the terrorists have chosen this particular moment speaks volumes about their nefarious designs. The law and order situation in Balochistan is the responsibility of the provincial government that must put its act together to take charge of the situation. Holding the FC responsible for the missing persons solely is not tenable, as its actions are in support of the provincial government to defeat the terrorists.
Anyway, the BLA has emerged as a terrorist outfit that, reportedly, has strong linkages with hostile agencies and wishes to create anarchy in the province to destabilise the country. Certainly, this has to be neutralised through firm action by the security forces. According to some analysts, the focus of the court on the FC and holding it responsible for the law and order situation amounts to discouraging it. The FC is striving to bring peace to the troubled province; its work needs to be appreciated.
A misperception has been created in the minds of the general public by the national and international media, as well as human rights activists with the connivance of external hostile actors, that a large number of innocent people are apprehended and detained by law enforcement agencies. However, reportedly, most of the allegedly missing persons have links with different terrorist organisations and due to fear of being arrested have moved to the far-flung areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
In addition, some have shifted to Afghanistan and other countries. Most of them are not in contact with their families, who perceive them as missing persons. In many cases, the dead bodies of those killed in encounters are taken away by their accomplices, who, probably, bury them at unknown places. While the families are not informed about their deaths and they consider them under the custody of law enforcement/intelligence agencies.
So far as Balochistan is concerned, it has been in the limelight for quite some time because of the issues of missing persons and target killings. Its problem is complex and intricate, not readily explicable or amenable to easy solution and populist remedies. There have been target killings of innocent civilians, teachers, professors and security personnel. While there could be some suspects arrested by the police or intelligence agencies, one should not rule out the possibility that a number of missing persons could be in Afghanistan and India, or killed by foreign agencies, such as Balach Marri was killed in Afghanistan.
The commission should not only locate the missing persons held on various charges, but also trace them from ferrari camps and/detention centres being run by Baloch sardars and insurgents. Investigation should also be made to find out how many people have gone underground or to Afghanistan for training. Also, the Pakistani media should act in a responsible manner and should not present exaggerated figures to bring ignominy to the country.
The writer is a senior journalist and freelance columnist.