Missing Baloch’s wife seeks justice

wahid-qambar.jpgBy Malik Siraj Akbar

Lal Bibi, whose husband Wahid Qambar was allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies and security forces, is optimistic that the “new chief justice” – as she describes Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – will do justice and produce her missing husband.

Hailing from western Balochistan, Lal Bibi has searched for her husband extensively but has been unable to find him despite the government proclaiming his capture on March 14.

The government and Qambar’s family have different chronological versions of the developments that led to his alleged detention. Qambar’s family believes him to be at his medical store when he was allegedly picked up by the intelligence agencies, but the government says he was arrested after a fierce gunbattle in the mountains of Dhokaff. According to the government, Qambar was the most influential commander of the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) in the Mekran region.

According to local residents, security forces used around eight gunship helicopters, dozens of vehicles and exchanged heavy fire to arrest Qambar along with accomplices. They were all injured and taken into custody, the government says.

Initially, authorities claimed that they had rounded up Qambar, the mastermind of the attack on Chinese engineers in Gwadar in 2004 and several other “subversive” activities. Now, however, government agencies do not confirm or deny that Qambar is in their custody.

Lal Bibi alleged that her husband was “kidnapped by intelligence agencies”. “Neither did [the government authorities] register a case against Wahid, nor did they substantiate their allegations. Security forces played judge, jury and executioner,” she said. She says the detention of her husband is illegal, extra-constitutional and inhuman.
“Even the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has confirmed in the media that my husband is in government custody. But I wonder why he is not being legally tried and brought to justice if we are made to believe that he is a criminal,” she added.

Lal Bibi also filed a petition in the Balochistan High Court (BHC) against the Quetta Military Intelligence (MI) commandant, Kulli Camp commandant, Turbat Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF) deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Turbat Frontier Corps (FC) commandant, Tump police station house office (SHO) and Balochistan Interior Department.
“The process of the case at the BHC has been very slow and no headway has been made yet,” Lal Bibi said. When her petition was heard by a division bench comprising BHC Chief Justice Amanullah Khan Yasinzai and Justice Akhtar Zaman Malgani, the BHC issued notices to all government agencies and departments concerned to tell the BHC about Qambar’s whereabouts. Since then, however, several hearings have gone by with only extensions granted to the government. Lal Bibi said she feared for her husband’s life and well-being, since “many of those who mysteriously disappeared never returned, and those who were lucky enough to return came back with serious incapacitations”.

After all other efforts failed, she said, she had finally decided to “beg the chief justice, international human rights organisations and the media to help bring the case into light”.

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