Forcibly disappearing Citizens will only weaken Pakistan

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Enforced disappearances of ethnic minorities is old in Pakistan especially Baloch and Pashtun citizens of the country. More than a decade ago, Pakistan set up a Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances and yet that has done little to either find the disappeared or punish who was responsible.

In a recent hearing the Islamabad High Court said that “the presence of internment centres in the country gives an impression that forcibly disappearing people is a policy of the state. IHC chief justice Athar Minallah said the state cannot disappear anyone and it’s an established fact. He also added it was the duty of the state to protect its citizens but in hindsight, it seemed that the state itself was responsible for disappearing dissidents.”

In a recent column, academic and public intellectual, Pervez Hoodbhoy wrote about the forcible disappearance of one of his students, Hafeez Baloch an M.Phil candidate at Quaid-e-Azam University. As Hoodbhoy noted, “The incident happened in front of his terrified students and fellow teachers while he was teaching at a small private school in Khuzdar, his hometown. While in captivity, Hafeez will doubtless have been accused of being a foreign agent. Like countless other young Baloch men arbitrarily picked up in the past, he too will be deeply scarred emotionally — and perhaps physically — during this ordeal. One does not even know if he will ever be seen alive again. The mounting sense of Baloch grievance will go up yet another notch.”

Hoodbhoy writes candidly that “Pakistan’s external enemies are claimed to be behind its problems of national integration. But those who play secret games under the guise of national security bear far greater responsibility. It is they who made our country suffer so grievously from terrorism between 2001 and 2014. Although inimical foreign powers have undoubtedly sought to inflict hurt, Pakistan’s wounds during that terrible period were largely self-inflicted.

In conclusion, Hoodbhoy states, “Forcibly disappearing Baloch students won’t eliminate terrorism but will weaken the federation of Pakistan. The flagrant violation of Baloch constitutional rights is weakening the national spirit and harming the federation. Before the self-appointed guardians of Pakistan’s security cause further damage to our country through their illegal actions, they must be brought to task.”

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Author: Syed Bokhari