The judge, jury and the hangman

Go down

The judge, jury and the hangman

Post  Bolan on Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:21 pm

By: Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

As long as the politicians cherish their perks more than the rights of the people, the ascendancy of the army is assured. Little wonder then that the armed forces in Balochistan have always acted like the judge, jury and the hangman with impunity

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in its recent report appropriately titled ‘Balochistan: blinkered slide into chaos’ has highlighted the repulsive role of the armed forces in the issue of the missing and killed persons in Balochistan. It also is scathing on the abdication of authority by the politicians to the armed forces who now decide about every aspect in Balochistan. It would have been to the everlasting credit of the HRCP if they had bluntly stated the fact that Balochistan was literally under martial law but sadly they refrained.

The countries and people that sweep their perpetrated atrocities under the carpet, hoping that by denials maybe these will be forgotten and consequences thwarted, underestimate the consequences of denial; those who refuse to accept mistakes make a habit of them. They also fallaciously start believing that their judge, jury and hangman role is justified and something to be proud of.

The fact that the atrocities and war crimes committed in Bangladesh in 1971 by the army and the state went unpunished has consequently resulted in atrocities in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A listless civil society and generally supine media has been unable to challenge or expose these atrocities. Urban extra-judicial killings too have gone unchallenged and unpunished.

The spate of blatantly state-sponsored brutal extra-judicial killings and missing persons in Balochistan, Swat, etc, would not have happened if the perpetrators of the Bangladesh atrocities had been punished. Perhaps even Bangladesh would not have happened if the 1948 Kalat assault and subsequent operations in Balochistan had been challenged and the perpetrators docked for their deeds.

The politicians, past and present, federal and provincial, cannot be absolved of culpability in the atrocities perpetrated because all accessories, by design or negligence, are equally guilty. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a speech in Lahore not long after Bangladesh’s independence sought the views of the crowd regarding its recognition and at the vociferous chant of ‘Naamanzoor’ (unacceptable) he said, “Agar aap ko namanzoor hai toh jahanum mein jaayein” (If you do not want then let them go to hell).

The onus of intransigence on an apology to Bangladesh and non-acceptance of culpability in crimes against humanity there and subsequently in Balochistan falls equally on civilian politicians’ shoulders as well. The politicians and brass hats obsessed with preserving fictitious interests have complemented and supplemented each other’s intransigent and brutal approach to human rights issues.

Cyril Almeida in a recent piece in a local English daily says Inspector General of Frontier Corps (FC), Balochistan, Major General Obaidullah Khan, when asked about the FC’s role in Majeed Lango’s death, said: “I have no problem with encounters as long as they are taking out murderers. Yes, a murder is a murder, but in your heart you feel less pain if a murderer is killed.” Another senior security officer asserted that given the problems with the existing legal and tribal systems no alternative to the extra-judicial killings existed and said, “It is nice to talk about principles and the state’s responsibilities, but I cannot ignore the pain of the victims of the insurgency.”

The Lango family’s sacrifices have a legendary status among the Baloch. Majeed Lango, extra-judicially killed on March 17, 2010, was named after his elder brother Majeed Lango Sr, who died on August 2, 1974, preferring death to surrender. His elder brother Amir Bakhsh Baloch, also called Sagaar-e-Baloch (Sword of the Baloch), was killed in a mysterious road accident.
I wonder if these sanctimonious officers would prescribe the same justice for the murderers of five Kharotabad foreigners where among others the FC’s Lieutenant Colonel Faisal Shahzad fired shots at unarmed and injured victims. What about the murderers of Sarfaraz Shah in Karachi; would the same extra-judicial approach be applicable? Why is the feeling of pain so selective and no pain felt for the victims of state terrorism?

The state and its representatives cannot ignore the pain of the ‘victims of insurgency’ but find no problem with ‘encounters’ as long as they are taking out murderers. This warped logic is used to justify the relentless, remorseless and repugnant murders in Balochistan and wherever this ‘pain’ comes into play, ‘principles and state’s responsibilities’ along with human rights can go to hell. When institutions sanction and use violence against people as a matter of established policy, accountability becomes well nigh impossible.

Similar logic had motivated the army, Al-Badr and Al-Shams to wreak havoc on the lives of unarmed Bengalis because there too they could not see the pain of the victims. Bangladesh, if you remember, ended up with hundreds of thousands killed and raped to alleviate the pain felt by the perpetrators.

Only the conniving, complicit and craven political class assures the permanent ascendancy of the army because without its backing they cannot even survive politically. Chief Minister Balochistan Raisani, Governor Magsi and Speaker Bhootani with a gaggle of ministers and assembly members are on record as saying that the FC runs a parallel government in Balochistan but yet continue to indecorously stick to portfolios and perks. As long as the politicians cherish their perks more than the rights of the people, the ascendancy of the army is assured. Little wonder then that the armed forces in Balochistan have always acted like the judge, jury and the hangman with impunity.

The political demands of nationalists in Balochistan have intentionally been maligned as being foreign fed and led to justifying the killings, which keep getting increasingly vicious. All problems in Balochistan are viewed from the angle of the ability of the army and its auxiliaries to physically quell the dissent and discontent, which has over time increased rather than decreased in proportion to the brute force used against the people since 1948. Although for convenience’s sake the Baloch discontent has been divided into a number of insurgencies, the fact is that the discontent has always been there and has acquired a new dimension with the passage of time and with increased repression is always progressing towards a higher stage.

In states where people feel threatened and intimidated by the unbridled authority of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, hoping that democracy will prosper is asking for the impossible. Wherever the armed forces have unchallenged ascendancy, the state, instead of being the primary support for human security, becomes its gravest and most lethal threat, the Latin America of the 70s and 80s being its recent and tragic example.

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at
articles from

Posts : 1240
Join date : 2011-01-08
Age : 38

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum