Mendacious claims

HRCP, Balochistan govt trade allegations over HR violations

* JWP leader allegedly arrested

By Malik Siraj Akbar

QUETTA: The Balochistan government and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) are trading serious allegations against each other over the state of human rights in the province.

The provincial government in Quetta has rejected the allegations levelled by the HRCP against the alleged violation of human rights and destruction of property by security personnel in various areas of Balochistan. On the other hand, the provincial government alleges that the HRCP reports are baseless and politically motivated. The HRCP, however, insists its reports are authentic and are depicting the “grave state of human rights violations” in Balochistan.

The latest phase of allegations and counter-allegations was triggered by a press statement issued by Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani, the vice chairperson of the commission, earlier this week. In his statement, the HRCP vice president had alleged that security agencies had burned houses and looted valuables in Dera Bugti during a recent search operation.

He had also expressed concern over the resumption of security operations in the districts of Panjgur, Awaran and Gickh, a tehsil in Panjgur. “Making a landmine blast a pretext, the security forces launched an operation in Lanjo Saghari area of Sui tehsil in Dera Bugti district. They burnt the homes of local people, took away a large number of cattle heads, cash and jewellery,” he had said.

Rejecting the HRCP’s allegations, Raziq Bugti, the Balochistan government spokesperson, on Friday termed them “completely baseless and devoid of facts”.

Bugti said that the areas of Sui and Dera Bugti, which are close to Sindh and Punjab border, were being used by ‘miscreants’ for carrying out criminal activities in adjoining areas. The miscreants were wanted to police force of three provinces on different charges, he said, adding that law enforcement agencies launched a “localised” operation against the miscreants and arrested them. “No civilian or any other inhabitant of the area was tortured, nor was any property damaged. Such statements are politically motivated and bear no semblance of truth,” he said.

“Mr Shahwani’s efforts to paint a group of hardened criminals as innocents and the security personnel as villains in this case only shows that his sympathies are with the people who were apprehended,” he added.

However, the HRCP vice president told Daily Times on Friday that he “firmly stood by” his statement, as it was based on facts which were hard for the government to conceal.

“The HRCP is an apolitical organisation. The local people of Dera Bugti themselves contacted the HRCP, seeking help against the excesses of the FC,” he said, adding that the government should stop the violation of human rights in Balochistan, instead of levelling allegations against the HRCP.

Meanwhile, a Baloch nationalist leader of Jamori Watan Party (JWP), Mir Rafiq Khoso, went missing from Jacobabad on Friday.

Khalid Khoso, Rafiq’s brother, alleged that his brother had been “kidnapped” by intelligence agency personnel a bus terminal in Jacobabad while he was on his way to Karachi. “The kidnappers informed Rafiq that one of his relatives was seriously ill and offered to take him to the hospital where he was admitted. When Rafiq refused, he was overpowered and taken to an unknown place,” Khalid said. The four-party Baloch alliance has condemned the Rafiq Khoso’s alleged arrest and demanded his immediate release.

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