What About Other Mass Graves in Balochistan?

After the discovery of mass graves, human rights organizations appealed to the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to Balochistan.

balochistan-mass-gravesAccording to media reports on Jan. 25, three mass graves containing over 160 unmarked dead bodies were discovered in Khuzdar district of Pakistan’s Southwestern Balochistan province. The families of Baloch missing persons fear that the dead bodies could be their beloved ones who are alleged to be abducted by Pakistani agencies.

Expressing concern over the discovery of mass graves in insurgency-ridden Balochistan, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in its report stated that around 169 bodies have so far been recovered from the graves. However Balochistan Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti claimed that there are only 15 bodies.

In the meantime, the Chair of the Human Rights Commission Of Pakistan Zohra Yousif rejected claims made by the provincial government and told the media “Locals hailing from Khuzdar have informed us that the number of dead bodies found from three mass grave is much higher than 15.” She linked the discovery of decomposed bodies to the ongoing uprising against Islamabad in Balochistan.

Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, has become a hotbed of insurgency, sectarian killings, kidnapping, tribal feuds and many other issues like enforced disappearances and illegal detention.

Local rights groups like Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) and Baloch Human Rights Organization accuse security agencies for enforced disappearances and have the details of over 8,000 people who they say have disappeared over the past 10 years.

“The crimes of the security agencies in Balochistan and the mass-scale disappearances and extrajudicial killings have now been exposed by the discoveries of these mass graves,” the AHRC said. On the issue of enforced disappearances in Balochistan, Human Rights Watch said “Enforced disappearances inflict unbearable cruelty not just on the victims, but on family members, who often wait years or decades to learn of their fate. Many cases result in the extrajudicial killing of the victims.”

They have no idea about their whereabouts and have often been seen peacefully demanding for their safe recovery. Interestingly, they have never denied the domestic law by declaring to bring them before the court and figure out if they have ever been convicted of crimes. On the contrary, the security forces are not only violating the domestic law but also the junctions of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which says that a state must detain individuals in an officially recognized detention so that their family is promptly informed about their fate. They must be given access to legal counsel.

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However several attempts were made by Pakistan’s judiciary and civil society of Pakistan to resolve the issue of disappearances and stop the alarming trend of kill and dump but those tactics go unabated. When Mohammad Hanif, a Pakistani prominent journalist was asked why they keep the missing persons for years then dump their bullet-riddled dead bodies, Hanif replied, “They do this because they think that they can do it and there is no one to stop them.”

Bashir Azeem, the 76-year-old secretary-general of the Baloch Republican Party, during his unacknowledged detention was told by one of the army officials that “Even if the president or chief justice tells us to release you, we won’t. We can torture you, or kill you, or keep you for years at our will. It is only the Army chief and the [intelligence] chief that we obey.”

The Voice for the Baloch Missing Persons is currently undertaking a “long march” from Karachi to Islamabad to protest against the disappearances. However, Sarfaraz Bugti, the interior minister of Balochistan, blames the Indian spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing, and Baloch separatist groups for the killing and dumping of corpses in the Khuzdar mass graves.

Meanwhile, Baloch human rights activists have demanded an immediate intervention from the UN to stop the ongoing genocide in Balochistan. They have demanded that the detainees receive access to legal counsel and be in direct contact with their family.

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Zahid Ali Baloch, a Fulbright Fellow, writes on Pakistan and Baloch issues for The Daily Dawn, The Daily Times and The Baloch Hal ( A newspaper banned by the Pakistani government because it reports on Baloch issues). He can be reached at zahid.sajidi@yahoo.com.