Wed, 20 Jan 2021

Geneva [Switzerland], Sept 16 (ANI): The Baloch, Sindhi, and Kashmiri activists have named and shamed Pakistan for violating human rights during the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Col (Retd) Wajahat Hasan Mirza, Chairman of Gilgit Baltistan Thinkers Forum, told the session that Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is historically a part of India and the abrogation of Article 370 and 35(A) has been done as per the country's Constitution.

"On August 1, 1947, Gilgit was given to the Maharaja of Kashmir by the British colonialists and was merged with Ladakh, Wazarat, and Baltistan. The region was declared as Northern Areas territory province that spread to 65 thousand square miles, covering almost 75 per cent area of Jammu and Kashmir," Mirza said.

He also told the session that on October 22, 1947, after the tribal invasion by Pakistan via Muzaffarabad in the Kashmir valley, the Maharaja of Kashmir did provisional accession of the then state to seek support to repulse the tribal Lashkars as the case went to the United Nations.

Mirza also demanded that if the Pakistani government considered Jammu and Kashmir as a 'disputed territory', then why the country has restored to the 'state subject rule' in Gilgit Baltistan.

Meanwhile, Qambar Malik, a Baloch activist and writer, further highlighted the grave human rights situation in Balochistan at the session.

"The Islamic radicalisation in Balochistan is being used by the Pakistani authorities as a tool to counter the Baloch national struggle for the right to self-determination. These go together with the enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killing of Baloch nationalists by the security forces," said Malik.

He added: "In the process of implementing these policies, lives and human rights of millions of people are being compromised."Malik also told the session: "It is a result of these policies that the number of Madrassas which form a major source of recruits for Taliban and ISIS has outstripped the number of schools in Balochistan. The schools and universities, on the other hand, remain under constant attack from Islamist militants."The activist also criticised Pakistan and China for exploiting resources in the province.

He said: "The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other ongoing projects, including Saindak and Rekodiq, by China, are other aspects of human rights violation of the Baloch People. Our land is the richest in the region while the people are the poorest."Karima Baloch, ex-chairperson of Baloch Students Organisation, also highlighted the human rights situation in Balochistan by narrating her own story of victimisation.

She said: "I became the first woman to lead the Baloch Students Organisation. I also appeared on BBC's 2016 list of top 100 women. I owe it partly to my uncle, Noor Ahmad, a teacher in our village. Unfortunately, he had to pay with his life for a crime that he didn't commit.""On July 28, 2016," Karima narrated, "Soon after I had fled to Canada, Pakistan's paramilitary whisked him away in front of dozens of witnesses to coerce me into surrendering my politics. But my uncle had taught me never to surrender, no matter at any cost. So, I didn't. And they killed him."She said: "But my uncle didn't die alone. His mother died with him. She had abandoned all the luxuries of life that his son couldn't avail of in the army's torture chambers. She refused to use the fan even during the blistering summer because her son was supposedly without one."However, it's not a peculiar story in Balochistan, the activist stressed. "Hundreds of such stories of killing and dumping victims have been documented by human rights groups," Karima added.

In addition, activists from Sindh also highlighted the grim atrocities inflicted by the Pakistani military and its illegal occupation in the region.

Rubina Greenwood, Chairperson of the World Sindhi Congress, said: "Pakistani agencies continue to use enforced disappearances of Sindhi political and human rights activists to silence the voice of Sindhi people for their political, economic and human rights.""Since February 2017, more than 300 disappearances have occurred, including young activists such as Aaqib Chandio, Shabir Kalhoro, Basit Kalhoro, Ayoob Kandhro, Kashif Tagar, Shahid Junejo, Insaf Dayo and others. The families of the missing continue to suffer," she added.

The activist also noted that the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are another key human rights violation that the government refuses to address. Often, activists are forcibly taken, held for extended periods, and then subsequently killed after being in custody of the police and other security agencies, she added.

"All of the victims' bodies have shown clear signs of torture. Failure to discipline and prosecute the perpetrators has led to a culture whereby agencies can act with impunity," she told the session.

Greenwood requested the UN human rights Council to take action to protect the rights of the people of the session.

According to the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, an entity established by the Pakistani government, about 5,000 cases of enforced disappearances have been registered since 2014. Most of them are still unresolved.

Independent local and international human rights organisations put the numbers much higher. Around 20,000 have reportedly been abducted only from Balochistan, out of which more than 2,500 have turned up dead as bullet-riddled dead bodies, bearing signs of extreme torture.

Before being elected as Prime Minister, Imran Khan had admitted in multiple interviews about the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agencies in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings and vowed to resign if he was unable to put an end to the practice, holding those involved responsible. (ANI)

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