Sunday September 24, 2023

HRCP expresses concern over situation in Balochistan

By Our Correspondent
April 08, 2023

LAHORE: Balochistan faces mounting public frustration over enforced disappearances, economic exclusion, curbs on press freedom, poor governance and political manipulation, stated the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s fact-finding report.

A fact-finding mission, led by HRCP in October 2022, has observed a palpable sense of anger among ordinary citizens during meetings with the organization, stated the HRCP release.

The mission comprised senior journalist and HRCP treasurer Husain Naqi, vice-chair HRCP Balochistan Habib Tahir, staff members Maheen Pracha, Fareed Shahwani and Ghani Parwaz, and journalist Akbar Notezai. The team spoke to a wide range of civil society members, including human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and members of the fisher folk community, as well as political leaders and members of the administration in Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, and Quetta.

The mission is concerned at the use of enforced disappearances to muzzle dissent, a grievance echoed in numerous conversations.

Additionally, in the midst of a serious economic downturn, the resource-rich province continues to be deprived of its fair share of revenues from large development projects.

The mission also observed that the absence of a healthy legal trading ecosystem between Balochistan and neighbouring countries has exacerbated poverty levels in the province.

Among other recommendations, the mission calls for an immediate halt to unwarranted interference in Balochistan’s political affairs by the establishment, accountability for perpetrators of enforced disappearances and legislation by the Balochistan Assembly to protect the security and independence of the province’s media professionals.

The mission strongly feels that the Haq Do Tehreek’s long-standing demands for basic amenities must be met, while any ongoing or planned projects under CPEC should not impinge on the Gwadar fisher folk community’s source of livelihood.

The mission also believes that the legitimate grievances of the Pashtun population, particularly those around unequal representation in the provincial legislature, must be given a fair hearing by all political stakeholders.

Given the devastating impact of the floods in parts of Balochistan, the mission has also underscored the need for a consistent and empowered local government able to develop early warning systems, evacuation plans and community sanctuaries with stockpiles of emergency supplies in conjunction with the PDMA.