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Mahal Baloch’s ‘torture’ and forced confession by Pakistan triggers global ire

Controversy over Mahal Baloch refuses to die (Photo: Twitter)

The “forced confession” from Mahal Baloch – the alleged would-be suicide bomber according to Pakistan, has raised a global storm. In the latest, Amnesty South Asia has urged people across the world to mount pressure on Pakistan to release Mahal Baloch as well as provide her with a fair trial.

In a press conference earlier this week, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Balochistan said that Mahal has confessed to be a member of the Balochistan Liberation Force (BLF) – a rebel outfit seeking independence from Pakistan. She is alleged to have said: “My husband was killed along with his brother in 2016 and I shifted to Karachi with my in-laws where people belonging to the banned organisation contacted and brainwashed [me], and after that, I joined the organisation and later shifted to Quetta”.

Mahal is also reportedly to have told her interrogators that she was not tortured during interrogation.

However Amnesty and other Baloch organisations have denied the Pakistan government statement on Mahal.

The international human rights organisation has said that Mahal’s house was raided by 12 security agents who did not have any legal documentation. Amnesty said that through this “unlawful raid, Mahal, her mother, sister-in-law, niece (aged 12) and two daughters (aged 8 and 6 years) were forced into two cars and taken to the office of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD)” on Spinney Road in Quetta. Mahal was separated from the other detained women and girls. Later, Mahal’s niece told human rights organisations that they could hear Mahal screaming while being interrogated.

Amnesty has asked people across the globe to write to Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan sharing their concern about the fate of Mahal Baloch and about the violations of her detention as enshrined in international human rights law.

Baloch organisations across the world have said that the confession obtained from Mahal has been extracted through torture.

Qazi Rehan, spokesperson of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) has said that Mahal was tortured physically and mentally during detention. He alleged that Mahal’s sister-in-law Bibi Gul is the chairperson of the NGO, Balochistan’s Human Rights Council (BHRC) based in Europe which has been leading a movement for the recovery of forcibly disappeared persons, and that is why Mahal has been abducted.

One of the foremost Baloch organisations working on human rights, the Baloch Yakjehii Committee has said that Pakistan has targeted Baloch women earlier also and “if political resistance is not shown against the forced disappearance of Mahal Baloch, this may take a more dangerous form”.

Mahal had been arrested by Pakistan’s CTD on February from Quetta on allegations that she was carrying a suicide jacket with explosives. Her controversial abduction had led to mass protests by Baloch women last month. The event also shed spotlight on Pakistan’s treatment of women as around the same time mutilated and tortured bodies were recovered from a well in Balochistan igniting further protests.

Also read: Murder and rape of teenage women in Barkhan likely to broaden Baloch movement