With a spike in the number of enforced disappearances in Balochistan in the past few months, there is not even a single family in the province whose member or a relative has not been forcibly disappeared, reported a Canada-based think tank, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS).
Enforced disappearances are used as a tool by Pakistani authorities to terrorize people who question the all-powerful army establishment of the country or seek individual or social rights.
The report suggests that it is a crime that is often used by the authorities to get rid of people that are considered a “nuisance” without any arrest warrant, charge or prosecution.
There is news of someone’s abduction almost every day in the province and as a result, the issue has attracted political and social attention.
The feeling of insecurity these abductions generate affects the community and society as a whole and is not limited just to the close friends or relatives who have been abducted.
The victims of these abductions, who are often the youth, women, children, and elderlies, are described by Amnesty International as people “who have literally disappeared.” The organisation states that the authorities grab the victims from the streets or their homes and later refuse to say where they are.
The forceful abductions are being carried out in Balochistan since the early 2000s. Students are often the most targeted section of these abductions. The victims also include several political activists, journalists, teachers, doctors, poets, and lawyers.
The report added that tens of thousands of Baloch people have been kidnapped by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistani Army personnel in the last 20 years.
Several victims have been killed and dumped and it is believed that many of them are still confined in the Pakistani torture cells.
A majority of the students are kept in extra-judicial custody after they are picked up during raids on houses and hostels.
A total of 48 Baloch students have been kidnapped between January and May from Balochistan and several other major Pakistani cities. However, several rights group believe that the total number of disappearances are much higher as a large number of families are threatened not to go public, or their loved ones will be harmed.
A total of seven students were abducted in January followed by 8,8,6, and 19 student abductions in February, March, April and May respectively.
Several protests are being carried out frequently in Balochistan to bring the practice into the light. The family members of the forcibly disappeared persons have formed an organisation called the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) to campaign against the disappearances.
A hunger strike that has continued for over 4,670 days was carried out by VBMP. The organization has claimed that the Pakistani authorities have been involved in this practice.
An annual report of the Human Rights Council of Balochistan, which is an organisation that documents human rights violations in the province, has said that students remained the main target of these kidnappings both in Balochistan as well as in other provinces of Pakistan.