Saturday, December 6, 2014

Daily Times Editorial Dec 7, 2014

Sindh alarm For many years now, enforced disappearances and the infamous kill and dump policy has been in evidence in troubled Balochistan. Despite civil society and human rights groups’ efforts, buttressed by the (unsuccessful in the end) efforts of the Supreme Court and High Courts to bring an end to the heinous practice, it has not abated. Balochistan does not receive its fair share of attention from the political class of the country nor the powers that be. But in case anyone thought this was an aberration confined to Balochistan alone, they have another think coming. For many months now, Sindhi nationalists have been agitating against the extension of the kill and dump policy to their province. Perhaps for similar reasons, their complaints have not found the traction hoped for and deserved. Now the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has added its voice to this issue. In a statement, the HRCP has expressed grave alarm at the rapid rise in enforced disappearances in Sindh, with the victims turning up dead. HRCP says those taken away are young men, mainly activists of Sindhi nationalist parties, picked up from various parts of the province in the past few months. Their dumped bodies show signs of torture and mutilation. HRCP has demanded immediate steps to put an end to the ghastly trend and to bring the killers to justice. The list of victims compiled by HRCP is as follows (all dates relate to 2014): Shakeel Sindhi, a Sindh University student, abducted from his house in Karachi on October 6, whose body was found on October 11. Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) activist Paryal Shah was abducted from a bus headed from Dahrki to Kashmor on November 7. His body was found the same day from a village on the Sindh-Punjab boundary. The bullet-riddled body of Roshan Brohi, a resident of Larkana and a JSMM activist, was found in a gunny bag near Malir, Karachi on November 12. He had been picked up on October 26. Sindh University student and JSMM activist Asif Panhwar’s body was found in a village of Larkana district on November 26 with multiple bullet wounds. He had been picked up by security agencies from Jamshoro on August 15. On November 27, the bullet-riddled body of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) activist Waheed Lashari was found in a sewerage pond in Karachi’s Malir area. He had been abducted 29 days earlier from Qambar Shahdadkot from a transport van. Allah Wadio, first year university student, was abducted on August 13 from Karachi. On December 2 unidentified persons threw him in a critical condition near Hub Chowki. Police informed his parents who had him admitted in the Civil Hospital Karachi. He was reportedly picked up from there by security agencies’ personnel. On December 3 his dead body was found from the Hyderabad Bypass. HRCP says in several cases the involvement of security forces’ personnel has been established by witnesses while in some their role has been actively suspected. Such suspicion is not misplaced as those familiar with the authorities’ penchant for dealing with dissent (especially in Balochistan) through such methods are inclined to place the blame squarely on the security agencies. HRCP reminds us that such tactics have never yielded any positive results anywhere in the world. All they have reaped is a growth in anger and hatred and led to pulling people and regions apart (and that too, in our case at least, on an ethnic basis, to add to all the other polarities our society suffers from). Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah is one of the few voices to raise the issue in the National Assembly to warn against creating a “Balochistan-like situation in Sindh”. HRCP goes on to remind us that it has long called for the bringing to account of those responsible for such atrocities because the continuing impunity of the perpetrators merely encourages the powers that be to continue down the same path without fear. The laws and judicial system of Pakistan having failed to halt these practices and bring the responsible individuals and state institutions to justice, HRCP urges the government to ratify and immediately implement the International Covenant for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Further, Pakistan should seek help from other countries all over the world who have suffered similar outrageous practices but have turned their back on them (Latin America is a shining example in this regard). Civil society and the media are advised by HRCP to firmly train the spotlight on this disturbing trend. Balochistan has been suffering from this affliction for many years. Its spread to now victimising nationalists in Sindh shows that it has become a favourite tactic of the deep state. The victims are not involved in the nationalist insurgency in Balochistan or are nationalists striving openly for Sindh’s rights. While civil society and the media should play their role despite the risks of retaliation, political society needs to stir from its slumber and take up the issue. Otherwise who will save peaceful dissidents seeking to exercise their democratic rights of opinion and its advocacy?

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