An organization claiming to work for the restoration of peace in Balochistan province has confessed to the killings of many activists, and has announced its intention to kill 35 more activists on its hit list in recent weeks. The organization has three activists in its custody and announces that at any time their bodies will be gifted to the nationalist movement of Balochistan. There has been no action from the authorities against the organization however.
It is alleged that the organization, Tehreek-e-Nefaz-e-Aman Balochistan (TNAB; movement for the restoration of peace in Balochistan), has been formed by secret agencies, particularly by the ISI, to crush the nationalist movement, which is against military intervention in the province and does not allow the people of Balochistan to control their rich natural resources.
Tehreek-e-Nefaz-e-Aman Balochistan is said to be the armed wing of Mutahida Mahaz Balochistan (United Front Balochistan), a political party headed by Siraj Raisani, the brother of provincial chief minister Aslam Raisani. The armed wing claims to have support from the custodians of Pakistan to restore peace in Balochistan. The chief minister is also not happy with the misuse of powers by the army and Frontier Corps (FC) in dealing with the law and order situation and his younger brother opted to disassociate himself from his brother’s politics.
The Pakistani armed forces have conducted military operations in Balochistan five times since 1948, the creation of Pakistan, and never allowed the people of the province to have autonomy over their own resources. Human rights organizations report that every district has cantonments running detention centers and torture cells to suppress students and activists. Since 2001, the military is very much present in the province. Though the government of President Asif announced in 2008 that it would withdraw the army from Balochistan after the impeachment of former president General Musharraf, the army remained and its Para-Military force, the FC was handed control of the province’s law and order situation, as well as policing powers.
The image of the army and FC was tarnished due to the disappearances of hundreds of Baloch people, their extrajudicial killings, the policy of kill and dump, torture cells and the abduction of women and activists. The military has now changed its policy and created an organization in the name of peace restoration, which is in fact assigned to identify the activists, intellectuals and professionals supporting Balochistan’s independence movement, abduct and kill them, which the FC and army cannot do in the presence of strong hatred throughout the country.
On November 5, 2011 the TNAB accepted responsibility for the killing of two abducted Baloch activists and said they were holding another four people who would be killed soon. Three of these were killed in December and their bullet riddled bodies were found abandoned in the Dalbandin area. They were killed in the same fashion as FC and intelligence agencies kill abducted persons, with many torture marks on their bodies and a bullet hole in the forehead.
Calling Baloch pro-independence activists the enemies of God, the group vows to kill all apostates. The TNAB has admitted to the killing of many other civilians, including:
Dr Mir Ahmad Marri, a resident of Kahan, Balochistan whose body was discovered from Dasht area of Balochistan on November 12, 2011. He had migrated to Hyderabad, Sindh province, and was living there with his family. On September 20, 2011, he was abducted by Pakistan security personnel, and was listed missing until his body was found. He had many torture marks on his body and one bullet in his forehead. A written chit was found in his pocket, saying ‘a gift to Baloch nationalists who are enemies of Pakistan’.
Tariq Bangulzai and Mehmood Bangulzai, activists, were also killed along with two of their cousins and young Wahid aka Balach Baloch, and the TNAB claimed responsibility for these in November 2011. They also accepted responsibility for killing a man in Khuzdar, alleging him to be part of the Baloch National Front (BNF) and Lashkar -e- Balochistan, the armed wing of BNF.
Aziz Bangulzai and Nabi Buz Bangulzai of BNF, fighting for the political rights of Balochistan state, were abducted and killed, and TNAB took responsibility for this in October, 2011. It further noted that it was still holding four persons, who would be killed soon, and many other Baloch activists would be targeted one by one.
TNAB issued a threat to kill all the family members of an intellectual, Mr. Hafeez Hassan Abadi
A Pakistani news agency, NNI, has reported that the TNAB has recently threatened to kill every single member of Baloch intellectual and writer Hafeez Hasan Abadi’s family. Hafeez is a famous writer and columnist, writing on human rights abuses by the military and state agencies, as well as actively campaigning for the release of disappeared persons.
In a statement, TNAB’s spokesperson Ghazi Khan Baloch said his group will target Hafeez Hasanabadi wherever they see him. Khan declared Mr. Hafeez to be a blasphemer and infidel, and hence liable to be killed. According to the statement, ”We have gathered all the necessary information about Hafeez’s family. We can target them anytime and kill them in most brutal way.”
Hafeez Khan left the country in 2009 and went to Russia, where he was called and warned to come back to Pakistan. When he left for Norway, he was threatened with the murder of his family members unless he returned to Pakistan. His two sons were stopped by unknown persons in plainclothes, claiming to be TNAB members. They were threatened with death unless their father showed up.
The Balochistan Union of Journalists has issued a statement calling for the protection of the family members of Hafeez Hasan Abadi. The leaders of the Union Essa Tareen and Secretary Hamadullah have condemned threats received by senior journalist and anchor Hamid Mir and family members of Hafeez, and demanded the military establishment to take notice of the matter. They claimed that 20 journalists had so far been killed in Balochistan alone and more than half of them were targeted allegedly by intelligence agencies and their hand-picked militant organisations.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is gravely concerned by the threats to Hafeez Hassan Abadi’s family and urges the government and authorities to act quickly and protect them. The government should also prosecute all security force officials who are using militant groups to unleash on the nationalist movements. In particular, the AHRC is aware that Islamic extremists groups have recently accelerated their deadly attacks against Baloch masses to counter the pro-independence movement. They have splashed acid on the faces of several Baloch women, including five female teachers in Quetta. These militant outlets are said to be financed by the ISI and trained with the collaboration of Frontier Corps and Military Intelligence in Balochistan. Their main tasks include counter-insurgency, spread of Talibanization, sectarian violence, Killings of Hazaras and Shias, attacks on NATO supply routes and targeting journalists and lawyers.
The situation in Balochistan shows that there is total collapse of rule of law and impunity to law enforcement authorities has become the order of the day. The AHRC urges the government to prosecute organizations openly threatening the people of Balochistan for demanding their civil and political rights.