As was widely reported, a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) team travelled to Quetta and Sibi (December 26-28, 2005) and to Dera Bugti (January 8-10, 2006) on fact-finding missions to ascertain the true reality of the Balochistan crisis.
A fortnight ago as the HRCP team reached the border of Balochistan near Sui, its Chairperson Asma Jahangir’s vehicle was shot at by suspected security agencies personnel. The aim of the attack, it is widely believed, was to thwart the HRCP team from visiting the area and discovering the falsehood of the military regime’s claims.
Yesterday the HRCP finally released its long-awaited report of its findings. Here are some excerpts, as reported in various newspapers.
The Daily Times
Paramilitary forces are torturing and killing the Baloch, says HRCP
- That the coercive military operation in Dera Bugti, Sui and Kohlu started on December 17, 2005, still continued and the human rights situation in the province had deteriorated to an alarming level.
- Residents in areas affected by the violence gave evidence that helicopter gunships and fighter jets were used to bombard Dera Bugti. They complained that their children had had serious mental disorders due to the fear of violence.
- The HRCP claimed to have received evidence that action by security personnel had led to many deaths and injuries among the civilian population. It said the Baloch had been subjected to indiscriminate bombings and there were many cases in which people had ‘disappeared’
- HRCP said the most disturbing account was the disappearance of 18 labour union leaders of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) in December 2005 while they were in Karachi to negotiate various issues with the PPL management. It said the HRCP convoy had been shot at near Kashmore while it was on its way to Dera Bugti. However, the authorities did not register an FIR despite a formal application by HRCP.
- The report and a visual documentary presented by the HRCP showed bullet-riddled bodies and buildings, armoured personnel carriers (APCs), military pickets, remains of rocket launchers and insecure and frightened people.
- The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Sunday accused President Pervez Musharraf’s military-led government of "gross human rights violations" in Balochistan, where it said a "war-like situation" prevailed.
- The HRCP also rejected government claims that it was not using regular armed forces in a crackdown in the province launched last month after rocket attacks by tribal militants battling for greater autonomy and control of natural gas fields.
- The group said it had "received evidence that action by armed forces had led to deaths and injuries among civilians" and that "populations had also been subjected to indiscriminate bombing".
- The HRCP report said up to 85 per cent the 22,000-26,000 inhabitants of Dera Bugti had fled their homes after the town was repeatedly hit by shelling by paramilitary forces. "There were alarming accounts of summary executions, some allegedly carried out by paramilitary forces. The HRCP received credible evidence that showed such killings had taken place," it said.
- "Across Balochistan, the HRCP team found widespread instances of ‘disappearance’, of torture inflicted on people held in custody, and on those fleeing from their houses," it added.
- "The security forces, as well as the decision-makers, have remained completely unaccountable for the gross human rights violations in the province, including responsibility for the internally displaced people," the report said.
- Ms Jehangir challenged the government claim of the ongoing ‘casualty-less’ operation and said the HRCP team found that people were being forced out of Sui and 85 per cent population had fled the Dera Bugti town due to fear of rocket and air attacks by armed forces.
- In its report, the HRCP’s fact-finding mission has found gross violations of human rights by the Frontier Constabulary in the Bugti and Marri areas and ‘seeds of inter-provincial mistrust and enmity being sown by the FC through propaganda.’
- The report has recorded repeated occurrence of extrajudicial killings, arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture and violations of human rights and freedom of the press in Balochistan.
- “The HRCP received evidence that action by armed forces has led to deaths and injuries among civilians, including women and children,” Ms Jehangir said. There was evidence of attacks conducted by fighter jets, she added.
- She said the HRCP team, including herself and Afrasiab Khattak, was fired upon by ‘unknown persons’ near Kashmore. Several bullets were fired in the direction of the team’s car for five minutes.
- The HRCP chairperson lamented that first the Rojhan DSP did not register their complaint and later the FC people in the Quetta Press Club forced journalists to report a statement allegedly issued by the Balochistan Liberation Army, claiming responsibility for the attack.
- “The FC has left its job and is serving as a propaganda machine sowing seeds of ethnic disharmony,” she said.
- She said almost every journalist who met the HRCP team complained of threats they received from intelligence agencies. A few of them said they had been picked up by the agencies and then released.
- The report reveals information about the children and women killed in the Dec 17 operation in the Marri areas of Jabbar and Pekal. According to it, 12 women and children were killed in Jabbar and 22 injured. Nine women and children were killed in Pekal. The bodies of the victims were never brought to hospitals and those injured could not travel out of fear.
Having been unable, despite draconian attempts, to prevent the truth from being revealed the Musahrraf regime has been exposed for what it is.
I can therefore hardly blame a US magazine from including him on its list of ‘The World’s Worst Dictators’.
The latest issue of the Parade magazine describes our Commando-in-Control as:
'Dictator No 17' Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan - Age 62. - In power since 1999.
General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a military coup that overthrew an elected government. He appointed himself president of Pakistan in 2001 and then attempted to legitimize his rule by staging an election in 2002. However, the election did not come close to meeting international standards. Musharraf agreed to step down as head of the military but then changed his mind, claiming that the nation needed to unify its political and military elements and that he could provide this unity. He justified his decision by stating, “I think the country is more important than democracy.” Prior to September 11, 2001, Musharraf was an ardent supporter of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.
I rest my case!
The interesting picture above is taken from today’s Dawn. It is subtitled:
DERA BUGTI - January 22, 2006: Armed tribesmen guard their leader Nawab Akbar Bugti who has taken shelter in a cave (bottom left) in a mountainous area of Dera Bugti on Sunday. Nawab Bugti fled his hometown after troops launched an operation here last month.