Despite Threats, Baloch Activists Enter Islamabad

Despite many threats, Baloch activists protesting the enforced disappearances in Pakistan are finally entering the capital Islamabad.

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Participants of the “Long March” to Islamabad. Credit: Kiyya Baloch.

ISLAMABAD — Families of Baloch missing persons marching in protest against enforced disappearances in Pakistan are finally entering the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

70-year-old Mama Qadeer Baloch, who is leading the march, entered the capital and will submit his demands to United Nations officials on Monday.

Participants of the Baloch missing persons long march arrived in Islamabad amid security threats after distancing over 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles). Activists protested across Pakistan for the safe recovery of their loved ones who they claim were abducted by the government.

The organizers of the march on Friday night announced to start the long march at 12 p.m. towards the National Press Club in Islamabad on Saturday. However they couldn’t start on time amid serious allegations leveled by the activists against the security forces.

Mama Qadeer Baloch claimed that security agencies threatened the participants and tried to harm them. Mr. Baloch said they were staying at a private hostel in Islamabad’s G8 sector at night but they had to change the place again and again due to the security forces. “Despite all hurdles we will continue,” he said.

Mr. Baloch alleged that Pakistani secrete agencies were leaving no stone unturned to harm the marchers and supporters of the march were being intimidated constantly. The participants of long march couldn’t begin their march from Islamabad until the filing of this report.

Intimidation and threats

Relatives of the missing persons who were about to set off for Islamabad press club are receiving threats from unknown people, according to Mama Qadeer Baloch.

He said that families of missing persons are being threatened. “Since last night we are being asked to abandon our march or be ready to face the consequences,” he said adding” If we are harmed the United Nations and Pakistani civil government will be held responsible for this.”

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Qadeer Baloch said he would present his demands to UN officials in Islamabad on Monday. He also said that during his stay in Islamabad he will meet foreign diplomats to raise awareness about the miseries of missing persons in Pakistan’s restive Southwestern Balochistan province. “I will inform UN officials and foreign diplomats that people are being kidnapped every day in Balochistan. Military operations are being carried out against common Baloch and almost every day we are receiving mutilated bodies,” Qadeer says.

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Baloch activists nearing the Pakistani capital. Credit: Kiyya Baloch.

Mr. Baloch stated that if the protracted issue of missing persons is not resolved in Islamabad, the next destination of the long march will be Geneva. He criticizes the United States and European Union for their silence over the issue of missing persons in Balochistan.

Meanwhile Dr. Abdul Hayee Baloch, former president of the ruling National Party in Balochistan, also joined Baloch marchers at Islamabad gateway to express solidarity. He accused that the military was running affairs in Balochistan and that the civil government lacked effective control. Mr. Hayee was disappointed with Balochistan’s newly-elected government and showed no confidence on the commissions responsible for the recovery of missing persons.

The long journey of the relatives of missing persons which began in Quetta on Oct. 27 reached Islamabad on Friday.

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Baloch marchers entering Islamabad. Credit: Kiyya Baloch.

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Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance Baloch journalist associated with the Daily Times based in Islamabad. He reports on foreign affairs, Baloch insurgency, militancy and sectarian violence in Balochistan. Read other articles by Kiyya.