Mama Qadeer Baloch and his organization – Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) completes 5,000 days of strike on 1 April 2023. Mama Qadeer Baloch has been protesting against atrocities carried out by Pakistan against the Baloch community by way of enforced disappearances.
He even broke Mahatma Gandhi’s record of Dandi March and walked 2,000 km on foot from Quetta to Islamabad to highlight human right issues of Balochistan.
India Narrative speaks to Mama Qadeer Baloch in an online interview about his movement related to enforced disappearances of the members of his community, human right violations by Pakistan, his trip to India and much more.
IN: You have been protesting since the last 14 years. What were those circumstances which instigated you?
MQB: I was a banker by profession and only four months were left in my retirement when my oldest son Jalel Ahmed Reki was forcibly disappeared by the ISI on 13 November 2009 from our house. This case of enforced disappearance was also confirmed by former Chief Minister of Balochistan, Aslam Raisani and who even informed us. To highlight my son’s disappearance, the Chairperson of Defence of Human Rights Pakistan, Amina Masood Janjua visited Balochistan, met with the Chief Minister and held a press conference at the Quetta Press Club.
After my retirement, I decided that we should make our own organization consisting of all those people who have lost their loved ones to the menace of enforced disappearance and this became the basis of our protest camps. Nobody can understand the pain of a missing person more than their family members. Further we made sure that no NGOs or political organizations try to utilize our just cause for their own benefit or sabotage the same. Since our movement has begun, we have had to face a lot of struggle. Even after several years of intimidation and threats by ISI, we have completed 5,047 days as of today and counting.
IN: As per your records, how many Baloch are victims of enforced disappearances by the Pakistan Army and how many mutilated bodies have been discovered?
MQB: The long march held by Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) was for a specific reason to highlight the atrocities on Baloch by Pakistan. At least 20,000 mutilated bodies have been found till now and 60,000 Baloch continue to be missing. As we speak, there is a genocide happening in Balochistan by the ISI and Pakistani forces wherein the common man, political workers, labourers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, intellectuals etc. are either being killed or are subject to enforced disappearances. We used to hear stories of barbarian kings like Mongol ruler Hulagu Khan who ransacked Baghdad and killed millions of people but the Pakistani Establishment and Pakistani Punjabis have crossed his limits.
IN: Do you think the commission on missing persons formed under the chairmanship of Sardar Akhtar Mengal will yield any results?
MQB: All these commissions and committees on missing persons formed by the government have no authority, they are for namesake. Millions of dollars are wasted on these commissions and till date not one missing person has been presented in the court of law. Government formed a commission for missing persons earlier under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) Javed Iqbal. Justice Iqbal is a known womanizer and rather than doing his duty he tried to sexually abuse the wives of missing persons and made them illicit offers.
He is said to have told one victim “why do you need your husband when I am there?” A lot of women have complained about his lecherous behaviour with evidence. Do you think such commissions or committees can do any justice? Sardar Akhtar Mengal and his commission members have submitted their report to the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) and even informed VBMP of the same. But till today we don’t see any action on that report, even Chief Justice of IHC is being stopped and warned not to take any action on the report as per the law by the Pakistani Establishment. These committees are useless and cannot get any result while on a daily basis Baloch are being abducted, killed and Balochistan is being bombed.
IN: Why do you think the UN and other human rights organizations do not give enough attention to the human rights issues faced by the Baloch?
MQB: We have written to the UN and made submissions to several human rights organizations in the US, Canada, Europe etc. and made them aware about the issue of enforced disappearances in Balochistan and as a result UNHRC met with VBMP and other concerned individuals in Balochistan.
They condemned the brutality of Pakistan and called upon it to stop all military operations in Balochistan, initiate recovery of missing persons and complete restraint on its kill-and-dump policy. On another front, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher highlighted Pakistan forcible occupation on Balochistan and how Pakistan is doing genocide of Baloch. He also tabled a bill in the US House of Representatives for Baloch’s Right to Self-Determination and that the US should stop supporting Pakistan financially.
I believe the US has put a lot of pressure on Pakistan concerning Balochistan and the US is showing its remorse towards Pakistan by degrading their financial and military help to Pakistan. Even the IMF is not giving loans to Pakistan and has kept stringent conditions and this is also one of the tactics played by the US. While the US is doing its part but Pakistan continues unabated in its human right abuses of Baloch but one day Pakistan will learn its lesson.
IN: In 2018 you visited India. Please tell us about your trip?
MQB: I stayed in India for about two months. I started my journey with Uttar Pradesh where I got my grandchild treated for a medical condition. While in Uttar Pradesh, I visited Bilochpura which is a small hamlet of the Baloch in India. I also visited the holy city of Benares. Thereafter I stayed in Delhi for a month where I visited Delhi University and interacted with students. I got tremendous media coverage in India. I was invited to English and Hindi/Urdu news programmes where I informed them about the situation in Balochistan and how Pakistan is creating new records of torture on Baloch and destroying their properties, livestock and the land of Balochistan.
IN: Do you have any message for India and Indians?
MQB: For hundreds of years, Hindu and Muslim Baloch have been staying together. And even today in Balochistan, Hindu community resides with us and more than Muslims we respect as they are our guests. Our relationship has transcended centuries, both our communities admire the other and always want the best for the other. We aspire to live together as we are one people, Inshallah!
Also read: Top Pak general killed in downed helicopter ordered enforced disappearances: Baloch insurgents
(The writer is a geo-political analyst. Views expressed are personal.)