Editorial: Release Sangat Sana and other Balochs
The Baloch Hal Editorial
December 18, 2009
By Malik Sira Akbar
There is strident hue and cry in Balochistan’s nationalist circles over the mysterious disappearance of Sangat Sana Baloch, a member of the Central Committee of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) as well as a former Vice Chairperson of the Baloch Students’ Organization (BSO-Azad faction). The young Baloch nationalist leader went missing on December 7 from Kolpure area of Bolan District, some 50 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Quetta.
It is no secrete to speculate who whisked away the Baloch leader and what the possible motives behind his disappearance could be. Balochistan has had a poignant history of violation of human rights. Political opponents are regularly taken away by the state-control institutions for a number of weird and ungrounded reasons. In most cases, leaders hailing form the opposition are subjected to worst forms of mental and physical torture and then enticed to give up their political ideology and support the ruling establishment.
Arrest of opposition leaders and their detention is even not very surprising for those living in other countries with similar repressive forms of governance. What is striking and unique about Balochistan is that the leaders go “missing” for an indefinite period. Held at unknown locations and subjected to severe torture, this practice contradicts the very legal law of the country that requires any criminal to be produced before a court of law within 24 hours. No matter how serious charges against an individual are, every citizen of the land has the legal right to be given a dignified trial and the opportunity to face allegations against him before a court of law. Unfortunately, the opposition leaders in Balochistan remain deprived of this basic democratic right.
The missing leader’s father, while addressing a press conference in Quetta on December 8, held the state intelligence agencies responsible for arresting his son. Likewise, the tribal elders, mainly those from Shahwani Baloch tribe, have taken the issue very seriously. Not only have the members of the tribe demanded the immediate release of Sangat Sana but they have also resorted to strict reactions. For instance, the supporters of the charismatic Sangat Sana blocked the Quetta-Karachi National Highway for several hours at Kaadkocha area to condemn the “disappearance” of a man who believes in democratic struggle, nationality rights and social and economic justice.
Sangat Sana’s disappearance has taken place at a very wrong time. This is a time when Islamabad and Quetta are both claming to be reconciling with the Baloch leaders. Ironically, the list of 89 withdrawn cases against Baloch leaders issued by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani on December 9 also includes the name of Sanagat Sana. It is absolutely ridiculous to withdraw a case against someone on the paper but whisk him away the next day.
There are genuine reasons to predict long-term negative implications for Islamabad in the wake of Sangat Sana’s disappearance. Sana belongs to the most difficult segment of Balochistan to deal with: the frustrated and irreconcilable Baloch youth. Enjoying a remarkable reputation across Balochistan due to his impressive services for the Baloch Students’ Organization (BSO), Sana’s disappearance is generating more support for him among his young supporters. This is further providing his supporters a pretext to reject reconciliation with Islamabad. The more the ruling establishment coerces the Baloch youth, the more rebellious they end up.
It is worth recalling that similar arrest of young Baloch activists back in 2005 actually shattered the whole peace process in Balochistan. When Baloch leaders, including Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti and Dr. Abdul Hayee Baloch agreed to cooperate with two parliamentary committees on Balochistan, which were headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and Senator Wasim Sajad, similar arrests of young Baloch leaders derailed the whole reconciliatory process.
Sangat Sana went missing days after the announcement of the Balochistan Package. The People’s Party expects the Balochs to respect and trust it because of its democratic credentials but, at the same time, it refuses to condemn and disassociate itself from the elements that are encouraging anti-Baloch activities. After all, history will not that easily forget and forgive the PPP for doing nothing over the killing of four prominent Baloch leaders –Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch, Sher Mohammad Baloch and Rasool Baksh Mengal –during its rule. In the same way, Sangat Sana is not the only political leader to be victimized by the government. Jalil Reki, the central secretary information of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), is missing since March this year.
Inaction against the disappearance of Baloch leaders is tantamount to committing political suicide for a government that even failed to attract Baloch support after the announcement of a weighty Balochistan package. The Balochs rejected the package because of a trust deficit. Balochs insisted that Islamabad was no longer reliable. Sangat Sana’s arrest confirmed their reservations.
It is earnestly hoped that the government will realize the seriousness of the matter and make sure that Sangat Sana Baloch and all other detained and missing Baloch political workers and people from other walks of life are immediately and unconditionally released.