Balochistan Assembly: Abduction & murder of Baloch more important than democracy

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QUETTA: Recovery of bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch youth and a fast deteriorating law and order situation in the province reverberated in the Balochistan Assembly on Tuesday. At least three provincial ministers also staged a walk out to protest over the Speaker’s remarks that Ministers must take up pressing issues in cabinet meetings.

Soon after recitation from the Holy Quran, Awami National Party (ANP) Provincial Minister for Revenue Mir Zamruk Khan took the floor on a point of order and urged members of Balochistan Assembly to stand united for strengthening democracy owing to the threat faced by the democratic system.

However, Minister for Mines and Minerals, Mir Abdul Rehman Mengal said in his speech that it would be better if the members of provincial assembly, would rather focus on the issues pertaining to Balochistan which is currently facing a serious law and order situation. “First we have to address the grievances of Balochistan where people are living in fear due to the increasing incidents of targeted killing, practices of enforced disappearances, recovery of mutilated bodies of missing people, highway holds up and kidnapping for ransom,” he stressed.

“We support democracy but in Balochistan no one is taking the responsibility of the killings and kidnappings. As far as the threat to democracy is concerned, the Federal Government is itself responsible for the crisis,” Rehman said

Backing Rehman’s speech, Provincial Minster Mir Zahoor Buleidai said that lawmakers often discuss issues of Balochistan yet they have failed to address them. “Every day a mutilated and bullet-riddled body of an educated Baloch youth is found dumped. No one is safe in this province and where human life is worth nothing. The bodies are brutally drilled and tortured. This is inhumane and ironically no one responsible is ever brought to book,” Buleidai questioned. “We do not see any sign of democracy in Balochistan, to say the least,” he said.

Buleidai said that relatives of those missing have been on strike for the past four years for safe recovery of their loved ones. With the Frontier Corps (FC) and security agencies being accused of the kidnappings and abductions, Buleidai asked “if FC and security agencies are not behind these kill-and-dump-operations or practices of enforced disappearances then they must clarify in writing and then identify those responsible for these inhumane acts,” he added.

The provincial minister added that he did not see any role of media, parliament or the judiciary in resolving the issues faced by Balochistan. “All the institutions should take notice of these issues.”

Speaker Balochistan Assembly Aslam Bhootani responding to the provincial ministers said “You are part and parcel of this government and you too are responsible to resolve the issues. Take up this issue in the Cabinet meeting as it is an appropriate forum.”

Zahoor Buleidai led a walk out, saying the Speaker was not letting him discuss issues in Balochistan Assembly. He was joined by Minister for Fisheries Mir Hamal Kalmati and Minister for Mines and Minerals Abdul Rehman Mengal.

However, Minister for Revenue Zamurkh Khan Achakzai persuaded the angry ministers to rejoin the session.

Pakistan Muslims League –Quaid (PML-Q) lawmaker Rubina Irfan strongly condemned the killing of political activist Famida Baloch, who was shot dead last week in Turbat. “Balochistan was known of its tribal norms and customs that accorded respect to women but now a days target killers did not spare Baloch women. The silence of government over this brutal killing has raised many questions. The worsening law and order of the province can be gauged from the fact that women are no longer not safe and are killed inside their homes,” she said, demanding the government launch an investigation into the murder.

(Read: Former PML-N councilor shot dead in Turbat)

She disclosed that lawmakers were under pressure not to discuss the kidnappings and killings. “We do not come here to complete the quorum but to discuss the issues of the province and seek solution to those issues,” she said.

Jamiat Ulema Islam-Ideology (JUI-I) lawmaker Abdul Khaliq Basher Dost lashed out at Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, calling him an imported Minister. “Malik?s recent statements over demolishing unregistered religious seminaries will aggravate the situation in the country like it did on the Lal Masjid issue.”

Defending the government, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Minister Ismail Gujar said that efforts were underway to resolve issues and that a strategy was needed to overcome the crisis in Balochistan.

The Speaker adjourned the session till Friday, December 23.