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Balochistan - a conundrum

A nation-state is a "territorially bound sovereign polity" encompassing state and national sovereignty. In addition to that, the social contract is a de facto agreement between citizens and the government. Pakistan also falls under the nation-state system, or we can say that it appears to. Pakistan has four important features to be called a nation-state: sovereignty, population, land, and government. The government is a question mark as there has been military rule for almost three decades, and the democracy index indicates it as a hybrid regime. Among the four provinces of Pakistan, two of them, Punjab and Sindh, are somewhat developed in infrastructure and facilities. The rest of the two provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, are lacking.

Balochistan is the most neglected province. It can be rightly said to be controversial too, as there is no regular reporting system and it is altogether left to Frontier Corps forces (FC) to deal with. It is a tribal area, and a number of separatist forces are also at work here. Balochistan has a long history of violence, degradation, and misuse. Although it is the fourth province of Pakistan, talking about its atrocities is considered taboo.

Besides the plethora of disputes, some recent gruesome incidents of human rights violations will be discussed here to share a part in highlighting the oppression of this region. On February 20, 2023, a Tuesday, three mutilated bodies were recovered from a well in the Barkhan area of Balochistan. Among them, one was a woman whose face was disfigured by throwing acid, and two were teenage boys whose hands were tied. These three people were alleged to be the wife and sons of Khan Muhammad Marri. The wife was Giran Naz, 40 years old, and Muhammad Anwar and Abdul Qadir, aged 22 and 15,

Before this incident, a video was circulating on social media in which Giran Naz was appealing to be freed from Khetran’s private jail.  She said, "I swear by God—this Quran is supreme—Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran has me captive in jail." He is sexually assaulting my daughter every day and has also imprisoned my sons. "Someone get us freed." But the authorities took no notice, and after a few days, three dead bodies were recovered in a sack from a well.

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Before that, in 2019, Marri had filed a case against Sardar Khetran, claiming that his wife and seven children are in captivity. The reason was that Marri refused to testify in a dispute between Khetran and his son, Sardar Inam Khetran. On January 18, Marri filed a case and appealed to recover his seven family members.

The bodies of deceased people were carried to Quetta to stage a protest after offering their funeral prayers. as the rest of Marri’s family was still in jail. The teenage sons were identified as Marri’s sons, but the body of the woman, formerly believed to be Giran Naz, is still unidentified. A sample was collected and sent to the Punjab Forensic Laboratory for a DNA test on February 26.

Upon this, Levies forces and a police team raided the house of Sardar Khetran to look for a private jail as alleged by Khan Marri, but they found nothing. which is strange as they should have looked for a hideout in the Somiani region of Barkhan. Later, after the constant protests in the Red Zone of Quetta by the Marri tribe, the authorities took action.

The Inspector General of Police of Balochistan and the Chief Minister took notice of the incident and ensured that justice would be served. A JIT has been formed to probe into this matter and submit a report in 30 days.

Sardar Khetran is the provincial minister for construction and communication and a member of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). He has a criminal record that dates back to 2006. In 2006, he was arrested by the Balochistan police for marrying off two minor girls and abducting their five family members in a private jail. In 2014, another kidnapping case was filed against him at Barkhan. Police raided his private jail; seven people were rescued, and illegal ammunition was also recovered. Khetran had also kidnapped three policemen. But besides having such a criminal record, he is a sitting minister. So, there is less hope for his conviction given the Pakistani justice system.

Regarding this case, Khetran has denied all the allegations and called them a conspiracy against him as the elections are approaching. His own son, Sardar Inam Khetran, has lodged a case against his father for abducting Marri’s family, and he was the one who shot the video. There is a conflict between father and son, and Khan Marri becomes the victim. Marri was the former bodyguard of Khetran, and when he refused to testify in favour of Sardar Khetran, his family was abducted. According to Sardar Khetran, his son wants to replace him as a chieftain and politician, which is why he is stirring up such controversies. As Khetran himself said, "Inam also took over the properties of the family forcefully." Upon being asked about Khetran’s resignation, he said, "Why will I resign?" If someone levels an allegation against me, am I supposed to resign? Not at all. "However, I will make myself available for the investigation."

As for now, Giran Naz, her sons, and her daughters are being rescued from Khetran’s jail. The medical tests of these women showed signs of sexual and physical violence. The two sons of Khan Marri were also subjected to sexual violence.

This tragedy was not enough when another took place on Sunday morning, February 26. An IED planted on a motorcycle exploded in the Rakhni market of Barkhan. Until now, five people have been killed and 13 are reported to be injured. No party has claimed responsibility yet. The suspicion goes to TTP (Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan), as they have conducted various attacks in recent months.

The situation in Balochistan is a constant violation of human rights. Authorities have vowed to solve the problems, but all in vain. A restructuring and serious consensus are required to give Balochistan its due share of rights. Till then, it would be a living hell for oppressed Balochs.



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