Pakistan was founded as a country for the subcontinent’s Muslim minority, but the state has over time become one that has persecuted its own. The Pakistani state has cracked down violently against all its sub-nationalities, particularly the Baloch.
The violent crackdown by the Pakistani state against the long march from Turbat to Islamabad by Baloch citizens – primarily women protesting the extrajudicial killing of Balach Baloch and others in Turbat – is one such glaring example.
While social media has covered the long march, most of Pakistan’s mainstream media has not paid sufficient attention to this issue which exemplifies how deeply the Pakistani state – and the military establishment – controls the narrative.
In a statement the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned “the state’s response to peaceful protestors, with women, children and the elderly subjected to unwarranted force in the form of water cannons and use of batons. Numerous women protestors have reportedly been arrested and separated from their male relatives and allies.”
According to the HRCP “This treatment of Baloch citizens exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression is inexcusable. An obdurate state that responds to calls for the right to life, liberty and due process to be upheld, by resorting to force at every stage, is a state that has shed its constitutional and moral responsibility for protecting and fulfilling the rights of all citizens.”
HRCP called upon the Pakistani state to release all those who were detained “immediately and unconditionally. We strongly urge the government to organize a delegation immediately to meet the protesters, give their legitimate demands a fair hearing and commit to upholding the rights of the Baloch people. The state’s widespread use of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings also warrants a prompt and transparent investigation as well as a commitment to hold the perpetrators accountable.”