Human rights violations in Balochistan

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Human rights violations in Balochistan
Balochistan in Pakistan.svg
Location Balochistan
Date Ongoing
Target Civilians and combatants
Perpetrators Pakistani security forces
Baloch separatist groups
Motive Military clampdown

Human rights violations in Balochistan have drawn concern and criticism in the international community,[1] being described by Human Rights Watch (HRW) as having reached epidemic proportions.[2] The violations have taken place during the ongoing Balochistan conflict between Baloch nationalists and the Government of Pakistan over the rule of Balochistan, the largest province of modern-day Pakistan. Brad Adams the director of the Asia branch of HRW has said that the Pakistani government has not done enough to stop the violence,[3] which include torture, enforced disappearances of those suspected of either terrorism or opposing the military, ill treatment of those suspected of criminal activity, and extrajudicial killings.[4]


Before joining Pakistan, Balochistan consisted of four princely states: Makran, Las Bela, Kharan, and Kalat. Three of these, Makran, Las Bela, and Kharan willingly joined Pakistan in 1947 during the dissolution of the British Indian Empire.[5] However, Kalat, led by the Khan of Kalat, chutya Ahmed Yaar Khan, chose independence as this was one of the options given to all of the princely states by Clement Attlee at the time.[6] In April 1948, however, Pakistan deployed armed forces to Kalat, and the Khan was forced to accede to Pakistan.[7] The Khan's brother Prince Kareem Khan declared independence and fled to Afghanistan to seek aid and begin an armed struggle that failed. By June 1948, Baluchistan in whole became a region of Pakistan.[8]

There were a further three insurgencies in the region after 1948: 1958–1959, 1962–1963 and 1973–1977, and a fifth nationalistic movement began in 2002.[9] The 1958–1959 conflict was caused by the imposition of the One Unit plan which had been implemented in 1955. This led to further resistance, and by 1957 Nauroz Khan announced his intention to secede; Pakistan declared martial law one day later.[10] Pakistan bombed villages and deployed tanks with support from artillery. Nauroz was arrested and died while in prison, his family members were hanged for treason.[11] According to Dan Slater, pro independence feelings in East Pakistan and Balochistan increased in parity with continuing military intervention in the political arena.[10]

Missing persons[edit]

In the period 2002–2005 it is estimated that 4000 people were detained in the province, of these only 200 were taken to court and the rest have been held incommunicado.[12]

In June 3, 2012, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Saturday directed the Balochistan chief minister to take special measures to trace the missing persons.[13]

Military and paramilitary abuses[edit]

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has also been accused of massive human rights abuses in Balochistan by Human Rights Watch, with the disappearances of hundreds of nationalists and activists. In 2008 alone, an estimated 1102 people were disappeared from the region.[14] There have also been reports of torture.[15] An increasing number of bodies are being found on roadsides having been shot in the head.[16] In July 2011, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report on illegal disappearances in Balochistan and identified ISI and Frontier Corps as the perpetrators. Through daily news reports it has been noted that ISI and Frontier Corps puts to death illegally abducted Balochs whenever there are attacks on FC's personnel or bases in Balochistan.[17]

In 2012 the Pakistani government denied allegations over the use of death squads operating in Balochistan in the Supreme Court.[18] However Balochistan’s former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal in a statement to the Supreme Court claimed the current civil disturbances in Balochistan were a direct result of enforced disappearances.[19]

Shia minority[edit]

Shia Muslims make up at least 20% of the total population in Pakistan and come from different ethnic backgrounds. The Hazara ethnic minority has been facing discrimination in the province for a long time, nevertheless, bloody violence perpetrated against the community has risen very sharply in recent years.[20][21][22] Hazara people in Quetta, have lost nearly 800 community members.[23] Most of them have fallen victim to terrorist attacks by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan which is a Sunni Muslim militant organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Taliban.[24] The repression against the Shi'ite muslims worsened in Pakistan after September 11 attacks,[25] albeit it began in 1998 with the assassination of Gen Musa Khan's son Hassan Musa in Karachi.[26]

Since the year 2000, over 2000 Shia Hazara community members including many women and children have been killed or wounded in attacks perpetrated by Sunni Muslim terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Taliban in southwestern town of Quetta. Many hundreds of Shia Muslims have been killed in northern areas of Pakistan such as Gilgit, Baltistan, Parachinar and Chelas. The violence worsened immediately after September 11 and the expulsion of the Taliban from Afghanistan.[27] In 2002, 12 Shia police cadets were gunned down in Quetta. In 2003, the main Shia Friday Mosque was attacked in Quetta, killing 53 worshippers. March 2, 2004, at least 42 persons were killed and more than 100 wounded when a procession of the Shia Muslims was attacked by rival Sunni extremists at Liaquat Bazaar in Quetta.[28] Separately, on October 7, 2004, a car bomb killed 40 members of an extremist Sunni organization in Multan. 300 people died during 2006.[29]

53 people died and 150 were critically injured in a suicide attack on a Shia mosque in Quetta in 2003. Since then, more than 700 Shias, most of them Hazaras, have been killed in gun attacks, rocket attacks, mass killings and suicide bombings in Balochistan.[26]

On December 28, 2009, as many as 40 Shias were killed in an apparent suicide bombing in Karachi. The bomber attacked a Shia procession which was held to mark Ashura.[30]

Many of young hazaras have had to flee to Europe and Australia, often illegally, in order to escape the oppression.[26]

Baloch separatist groups[edit]

Baloch insurgent movements have carried out a wide range of systematic human rights abuses in Balochistan,[citation needed] including targeted killings of ethnic non-Baloch civilians. This has caused an economic brain drain in the province. According to the Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani, "a large number of professors, teachers, engineers, barbers and masons are leaving the province for fear of attacks. This inhuman act will push the Baloch nation at least one century back. The Baloch nation will never forgive whoever is involved in target killings." Raisani noted that these immigrant settlers had been living in Balochistan for centuries and called their targeting by Baloch insurgents "a crime against humanity".[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Akbar, Malik Siraj (12 December 2011). "Balochistan – a human rights free zone". Dawn. 
  2. ^ "Pakistan: Upsurge in Killings in Balochistan". Human Rights Watch. July 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ Walsh, Declan (28 July 2011). "Pakistan's military accused of escalating draconian campaign in Balochistan". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ World Report 2012. Human Rights Watch. 2012. p. 362. ISBN 978-1-60980-389-6. 
  5. ^ Hasnat, Syed F. (2011). Global Security Watch—Pakistan (1st ed.). Praeger. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-313-34697-2. 
  6. ^ Bennett Jones, Owen (2003). Pakistan: eye of the storm (2nd Revised ed.). Yale University Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0300101478. 
  7. ^ Malone, David; Rohan Mukherjee (2010). T. V. Paul, ed. South Asia's Weak States: Understanding the Regional Insecurity Predicament. Stanford University Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-8047-6221-2. 
  8. ^ Singh, RSN (2009). The Military Factor In Pakistan. Lancer. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-9815378-9-4. 
  9. ^ Rashid, Ahmed (2008). Descent into Chaos: How the War Against Islamic Extremism is Being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Allen Lane. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7139-9843-6. 
  10. ^ a b Slater, Dan (2010). Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-521-16545-7. 
  11. ^ Khan, Adeel (2004). Politics Of Identity: Ethnic Nationalism And The State In Pakistan. Sage. p. 116. ISBN 978-0761933038. 
  12. ^ Dwivedi, Manan (2009). South Asia security. Kalpaz. p. 103. ISBN 978-81-7835-759-1. 
  13. ^ PM Gilani orders Balochistan CM to trace missing persons, The News, June 03, 2012
  14. ^ Jackson, Richard (2011). Terrorism: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. Chapter 9. ISBN 978-0-230-22117-8. 
  15. ^ "Pakistan: Security Forces ‘Disappear’ Opponents in Balochistan". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  16. ^ Walsh, Declan (28 July 2011). "Pakistan's military accused of escalating draconian campaign in Balochistan". The Guardian (London). 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Balochistan case: SC rejects chief secretary’s report on province". Dawn.Com. 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  19. ^ "‘Enforced disappearances cause of unrest’: Mengal submits six-point plan on Balochistan". Dawn.Com. 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  20. ^ "Gunmen kill 11 in Pakistan sectarian attack". Samaa Tv. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  21. ^ "The Quiet Killing of Pakistan's Shi'a Continues – by Saba Imtiaz | The AfPak Channel". 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  22. ^ Yousafzai, Gul. "Suspected sectarian attack in Pakistan kills 13". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  23. ^ Siddique, Abubakar and Nasar, Khudainoor Pakistan's Tiny Hazara Minority Struggles To Survive October 04, 2011, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty |
  24. ^ B. Raman (26 September 2011). "Pakistan: Another Massacre of Hazaras in Balochistan By Pro Al Qaeda Elements"
  25. ^ "Pakistan's Shia-Sunni divide". BBC NEWS. Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  26. ^ a b c "Insight: A brief history of Hazara persecution by Dr Saleem Javed". Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  27. ^ "Pakistan's Shia-Sunni divide". BBC News. June 1, 2004. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  28. ^ "Carnage in Pakistan Shia attack". BBC News. March 2, 2004. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  29. ^ "Shiite-Sunni conflict rises in Pakistan". David Montero. February 2, 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  30. ^ "Karachi in grip of grief and anger as blast toll rises to 43". S. Raza Hassan. Dawn News. December 30, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  31. ^ Baloch, Shahzad (9 August 2010). "Raisani seeks mandate for talks with insurgents". Express Tribune. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 

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