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Show proof of Indian role: Pakistani panel

Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD: Balochistan is fast sliding into chaos and the situation is very precarious with the tortured bodies of 140 missing persons turning up between July 2010 and May 2011, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). As per HRCP's conservative estimate, another 143 persons are still missing in Pakistan's largest province.

Briefing journalists here about the findings of an HRCP team which visited the violence-prone province in May, Secretary-General I.A. Rehman likened the situation in Balochistan to what prevailed in East Pakistan before 1971. He and the former HRCP chairperson, Asma Jehangir, were one in stating that security forces were trying to create the very same narrative of external forces being responsible for the violence in the resource-rich but under-developed province.

“Are you trying to suggest that all Balochis have sold out to foreign elements? Has the government tried even one person for treason,” asked Ms. Jehangir. To a question on the oft-repeated charge that Indians were stirring up trouble, she shot back: “When the government makes such an allegation, we expect it to show some evidence. Unfortunately, we have not seen that. If these allegations are correct, it is all the more serious that the government is not taking up the matter.”

Referring to the mainstream narrative of Balochis conducting a separatist movement, Mr. Rehman noted: “Considering what is being done to them, they are still showing a lot of patience.” A particularly worrying trend the HRCP had noted since 2009, when it last conducted a fact-finding tour of the province, was the torture and murder of victims of “enforced disappearances”. Most of the victims were in the 16-25 age bracket and were either students or unemployed youth.

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