Saeed Baloch is human rights activist since 1980s and General Secretary Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF). On 16th January he was called to Pakistan Rangers office in Kemari. He has not been seen or heard from since.
51 rights based organisations have condemned Pakistan Rangers treatment of Saeed Baloch and demand his immediate release. Asian Human Rights Commission has noted that such treatments is a known danger of handing over powers to the military.
The arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of Mr. Saeed reveals the dangers of handing over sweeping powers to military, paramilitary and law enforcement authorities under the draconian Anti-Terrorist and Protection of Pakistan Acts (PPA).The Rangers and other paramilitary and military officials often abduct a person keeping him under arbitrary detention and later seek remand of 90 days from the anti-terrorism courts under the draconian Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPA).
The archaic and faulty criminal justice system of Pakistan makes it possible for the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) to extend their tentacles wherever they deem fit, often seeking vengeance against those who dare uncover their tyrannical designs. Instead of actually tackling the material and ideological infrastructure of terrorism in the country, the authorities routinely abuse their powers to target those engaged in resistance to injustice and inequality.
Who can forget the tragic story of Sarfaraz Shah an unarmed youth who was shot and killed in the street while pleading for his lift after being confronted by Rangers in 2011? Therefore is it any surprise when human rights organisations report that encounter killings have increased significantly?
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) annual report for 2014, around 592 people were killed in alleged encounters with the police and Rangers. In 2013, which the HRCP termed to be Karachi’s deadliest year with 3,251 deaths, around 184 were killed in encounters.
There can be no doubt that Rangers and other forces have an important role when the country faces serious threats from criminals and terrorists. However it is also important that Rangers and other security forces maintain the trust and faith of the people who they are protecting. This will quickly become undone if innocents like Sarfaraz Shah are killed in the streets or if human rights workers like Saeed Baloch are disappeared. Effective counter-terrorism operations must have the element of transparency to reassure the people that terrorists are being targeted and not innocent people or those targeted for political issues. Then there can be no doubt about security forces as the nation will be united.