Shahzaib Baloch still missing

By Malik Siraj Akbar

QUETTA: While working inside the crowded ‘Balochistan X-rays’ located on Fatima Jinnah Road, radiologist Professor Dr Mustafa Kamal fixes his one eye on the x-ray slide and the other on his cell phone. He awaits good news about his 24-year-old missing son, Shahzaib Baloch, a law graduate. As time elapses, Dr Kamal becomes more desperate, fearing that the captors, whom he considers to be the intelligence agencies, may kill him during detention.

“Shahzaib is a son that I have been truly proud of,” says Kamal with a toothless smile. “I always wanted to see him as a gregarious, extrovert and (a) highly sociable man. At a young age, he rose to my expectations and brought a lot of respect to himself and his family.”

Kamal met his son for the last time on March 26 on the breakfast table at his Jinnah Town residence. While Kamal proceeded to his clinic, Shahzaib was entrusted with the task to drop some family members elsewhere in the city. As he drove towards the city, some law enforcers intercepted his car on Faiz Muhammad Road at around 11am. They roughed him up and whisked away to an undisclosed destination. No one has heard from his captors since then.

Refuse: When Kamal received the news of what he calls Shahzaib’s ‘abduction’, the first thing he wanted to do was to lodge a case with the City police. “The police refused to register a case against the intelligence agencies. They said they could not take our case because this may cause problems for them,” complains Kamal.

Shahzaib, also the president of the Quetta chapter of the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO), actively campaigned for the release of missing persons who were detained by the intelligence agencies during Pervez Musharraf’s rule.

Zaib led protest rallies and marches across Balochistan, mainly in Quetta, opposing the military operation in the province and called for a fair judicial trial for all the missing persons.

“Shahzaib was not oblivious to the threats he faced,” recalled his close friend Qambar Chakar of the BSO, “He knew he was under constant observation of the intelligence agencies that would pick him up one day.”

Worsen: “In the past, the families of the missing persons had some hope that their loved ones would return one day. But since the arrival of the PPP government, the situation has worsened to such an extent that the agencies are wasting no time to kill the activists in their custody. We fear for Shahzaib’s life,” he says.

Dr Kamal has filed a petition in the Balochistan High Court about the disappearance of his son. In a press conference, Zaib’s mother demanded that the government release her son.

In his petition, Dr Kamal has implicated the federal and the provincial home secretaries, commanding officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI), the Frontier Corps commandant, the capital city police officer, the district police officer and the City station house officer.

The ISI and the MI representatives did not appear before the court while the other government departments said Zaib was not in their custody.

Dr Kamal said he had also approached Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi in this regard. The governor wrote to the Balochistan chief secretary to locate the whereabouts of the missing law graduate within 10 days.

Dr Kamal says he has no regrets over Zaib’s political affiliation with the BSO as he himself faced imprisonment during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s regime for delivering a speech against the Shah of Iran.

“I do not disown the political activities of my son. I admit fully supporting him for his struggle for the rights of his own people. I encouraged and financed him to carry out a moderate political agenda. Yet, I think he deserves a fair trial as a citizen of the state. I would have no objections to whatever punishment he is given provided that my son is given a fair trial and the charges against him, if there are any, are proven in a court of law,” he insists.

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