FYI: I’m not a fullbrighter – the person who i took this off , is.
When will the Balochs stop being victims of the Pakistani paramilitary forces?
Torture and kidnap of Balochs in Balochistan by the Pakistani law enforcement, especially the paramilitary forces, has become very common practice since the last few years. They kidnap us, arrest us on false charges, torture us, brutally murder us and then throw us away. Many of us are still missing. The reasons behind these incidents are because we are Baloch by ethnic and we are continuously demanding for our rights and identity. This mistreatment happens to Baloch at all level; rich and poor educated and uneducated.
On April 8, 2010 I also had to go through the torture process by the paramilitary forces in Quetta, capital of Balochistan. It happened when I left my hometown, Noshki, about 120km from Quetta. When we entered Quetta, the time was about 09.00 pm, and the van was stopped a couple of times by the paramilitary. Each time the same questions were asked: where is the van coming from and what’s in your bag? Each time the driver and passengers told them that we came from Noshki, and I had to tell them my bag carried “one laptop and two pairs of cloths”.
After the van dropped us off at its final destination, I had to catch a riskhaw (a three wheel taxi) to go to the place where I was supposed to spend the night. On the way, I was again stopped several times and the same questions were asked and my reply was the same. And I was asked to get off from the rickshaw and open my bag to prove that I was telling the truth. I really got sick and tired of zipping and unzipping the bag. Therefore, I left my bag opened. Moreover, their rude behavior towards me was torturing, annoying and made me nervous. And I feel that I have entered a different or an occupied territory.
When I was almost reaching my destination, I was again stopped by the forces, and had to suffer the same process. This time I told them: This is what I have in my bag and you can check it but I am not going to open it for you. You are welcome to do it yourself. The solider did not like my words and started to shout at me while threatened to punish in a way that I have never thought of. I responded and asked him to let me speak to his officer as I found his behavior offensive.
When he did not return immediately, I went to look for him to sort out the problem so that I could leave. When I found him, I overheard him tell his officer not to release me as he wanted to teach me a lesson; that I was trying to be smart. By now I knew things were going to get messy. They were not allowing me to leave and making me wait long hours became a mental torture to me; and I was forced to stand at the road side. So I asked to see their senior officer. They told he would arrive soon and that they have decided what to do with me. I was mentally prepared to face the consequences of my action and I recalled all that I have heard from other Balochs who had been brutally treated; their stories are true.
A few minutes later, the major arrived in a red Toyota four-wheel pickup, with gunmen, followed by a one-door pickup full of armed men. The latter welcomed the major, after which they called for me. The major, who looks like a ‘practising Muslim” with long beard, greeted me and asked for my name. His name was Asim, according to his nametag. I started the conversation in English, where he told me that his men had lodged a complained against me.
I replied “Major, it is good that they have someone to listen to them. To whom and where should I complain about their rude behaviors that I faced since I entered this city”.
We went further and discussed what the issue was. I told him that I was carrying my laptop and clothes in this bag that I have zipped and unzipped it several times since I have entered the city.
I said: “I have just told your solider the same and if he wanted to check he is welcomed but I am not going to open it for him because I am tired”.
“He has taken my words as an insult because he is in uniform,” I told the major.
The major said that his men were standing there for civilian’s security and they were called by the provincial government. I replied “We appreciate what you people are doing but it does not mean that you have to get on our nerves. We also get tired of being disrespected in the name of security”.
Furthermore, I told him that I have not seen any improvement in the situation despite an increase of torture cases against us. Asked again for my Identity card to double check and asked me where I work. I replied I was jobless, just came to the city to buy some stuff and will return home tomorrow; and that was a fact.
His people started to search my bag and within a second or two without opening the other pockets they showed Asim a piece of marijuana rapped in a plastic. Well, I was already prepared to face all this when they were discussing among themselves about teaching me a lesson. After showing it to the major, he asked if indeed I was carrying the drug.
I replied “I am really sorry to say that you haven’t heard a single word that I have been telling you. Let me repeat it for you: this bag has been unzipped several times at different check posts and this time I did not protest nor show them the bag. But I asked them to do it themselves. I said I was not going to open it for them”.
I added “At the other posts, no one found such stuff in my bag although they searched every part of it, but at this post they found this piece of rubbish in my bag without opening and searching every pocket of it. And for your information, I have never smoked in my life and nor I am a drug addict or a dealer carrying a couple of grams marijuana to make an earning”.
I continued telling the major this was really childish, that I had heard all this before and seen it in the movies, and that it was good that I was seeing it in real life. For awhile, I thought the major has realized that his men had chosen the wrong tactic to take revenge on me.
When he asked his men why they did this to me, they replied that they were prepared to swear on the Holy Quran that they have not kept the marijuana. This sentence of theirs upset me a lot and I lost my temper.
I told them “Look at yourselves you bastards with long beards on your faces; you want to prove that you are practicing Muslims but in reality you are worse than the Satan (devil).You guys are ready to swear on the Holy Book. Do you ever know the importance of the Quran”?
The major interrupted and tried to calm me down by telling me that I am “an educated person” and such language did not suit me. I told him that I am being rewarded already for being a highly educated person in this society.
“For almost two hours you guys have kept me on hold and mentally tortured me and tried to prove that I am a drug dealer,” I told him.
People started to gather around but the paramilitary forces moved them away and prohibited them from crowding the area. Now I was completely mentally prepared to go in the depth of it to find out till what extend these so called “life saver or protector” of this country will do with me.
The major asked for my closed friends contact numbers which I refused to give because I did not want to get them involved in this trouble. I gave him my elder brother’s contact number. I told the major that he was not in the city so do not worry him. He dialed my brother’s number and moved ahead. After a minute or so, my brother called me saying that someone by the name of Asim had called him and said that “Khalid had an accident and he is suffering from serious head injuries”.
I could feel the fear in his voice and that he was trying to find out if everything was okay with me. I told him the whole story and he asked me why this guy told him a lie. I went to Asim to find out and this time his gunmen did not allow me to go near him but still I persisted and asked him why he lied to my brother?
Asim asked me if I wanted him to tell my elder brother the truth – which I had been caught carrying illegal drugs. Now I felt the change of tone in his voice, which made me aware that I was talking to a “MAJOR”.
I told him that this may be a truth that was created by his people but not for my brother.
“If you do not know who I am, my brother and my people know me and my family very well. They will not believe your nonsense story,” I added.
He ordered his gunmen to take me to the police station and launch an FIR (First Investigation Report). I responded by saying it was a mistake for me to think he was an educated person.
“You are worse than your gunmen. You have proved to me that you are bias, Balochistan is an occupied state by Pakistan and you guys have sworn to torture the innocent Balochs in the name of security,” I said.
Now I had to face the knocking of his solider. All of them wanted to take part in beating me and to prove to their boss how loyal they are to him. They wanted to handcuff me but I did not allow them. They dragged me to their pickup and moved to the police station to launch the FIR. I entered into the room before them. When the officer on duty saw me spotting a French cut, carrying a laptop bag on my shoulder and wearing neat clothes, he stood up to welcome me and to find out how he can help. When he found the paramilitary guys behind me, he changed his mind because he realized that they have brought in another victim and he cannot interfere in their work. If ordered, he has to do what they asked him to although they are from different departments. In the FIR they wanted to mention that drugs were found on me; that I have abused Pakistan; I have misbehaved with the officers in uniforms and snatched the tags on their shoulders, which they did themselves to prove me guilty. There were a lot of other allegations.
I realized that they thought I may be a doctor by profession when I heard them telling the officer on duty that this guy does not know what type of doctors we are. He will soon find out after the FIR was launched and he was admitted to the orthopedic ward of the hospital.
Suddenly a friend of mine, a lawyer by profession entered the room and saw me sitting on the bench. We were both surprised to see each other because the last time we met was in a farewell party arranged by all my friends before I left for States for my Masters under the Fulbright Scholarship in 2006. He was there to release his client and when he saw the paramilitary forces he just kept silent for a few seconds and said to me in Balochi (language) “Khalid, I just pray for the day to come soon when we are no longer their victims”.
He requested the senior police officer, who had earlier entered the room and prepared pen and paper without listening to me, not to launch the FIR. My friend told me he would handle everything and I have only to listen to him. In our culture when we authorize someone, we are bound to follow the decision he makes. After an argument which lasted for an hour or more in a separate room between my friend and the paramilitary forces, my friend requested me to apologize to them. One of them later demanded that I should bend down on my knees and beg for forgiveness and then only they will accept my apology. Another session continued to remove this demand.
He told me that as a friend, he did not want to embarrass me in front of them. He said he knew all the “dirty games” they played with the Balochs, which was why he did not want to hand me over me to them; not at any cost; not because of the physical or mental torture I was suppose to go through but just because he did not want to lose another Baloch.
Later, I said to one of the lower ranking officers named Aslam, who spotted a trim mustache and long beard: I just want to about you guys who go along with your major; you are pretending to be practicing Muslims by your outer looks but are you ready to swear on the Holy Quran that you have not kept the marijuana in the bag?
In response he gave me a wicked smile. My friend dropped me at home at around 02.00am and asked me to forget the incident. It would not be easy for me to forget it because I will see this happening every day and whenever I see someone being insulted at the roadside by these people it will remind me of the episode.
I do not want to be bias like Major Asim. But the questions will always occur in my mind
Why are they the only ones who could feel insulted, not us?
Why did the major lie to my brother?
Why did the major support his people despite knowing that they had kept the drug?
And why did not the major play a neutral role in this whole incident?
When I studied in America, never have I blamed the Americans for treating me as a third class citizen, but in reality we, the Balochs are treated as a third class citizens on our own land. I have travelled around the world including United States and United Kingdom but I have never been treated in such a disrespectful manner, neither at the immigration nor by their citizens. I have travelled to different cities of states and not a single day I was stopped by any law enforcement agency to prove my identity nor have I been asked to check my bag. While in Washington DC when carrying out my research, I had to cross the Senate, Supreme Court and Capitol Hill buildings in order to get to the Congress Library but not even a single day have I been stopped but in my own land I have being asked ten times in one single hour to prove my identity.
I have been analyzing Balochistan’s situation very closely and it seems to me that the Pakistani forces do not care whether we are educated or illiterate. All they want to do is prove to us that they are more powerful than us, and that our territory has been occupied by them.
It seems, we cannot ask for our rights and seek justice for our people because we are their slaves. If we do, it means that we are insulting them, and this is something they simply cannot bear. Kidnapping, torturing and murdering of innocent Balochs have proven that the gun is more powerful than knowledge or education; they will continue to control us with the power of guns. For them, every single Baloch who fights for his rights is considered to be an Indian agent, and must be dealt with urgently.
It clicked in my mind that if a Major, with an obscure features can back his people who lie, an act which neither Islam nor education allows, then why should not we support our people who are fighting for the rights of the Baloch nation?
Why should not we pay the highest respect for the people who have lost their lives for this cause? Why should not we participate in demonstrations demanding for the whereabouts of the missing Baloch\s? And why should not we motivate the youth to fight for their rights? Because fighting for justice is what Islam and education teaches us.
I urge all Balochs sitting in parliament to wake up immediately and fight for the rights of Baloch instead of being a puppet of the Pakistani law enforcement agencies and its establishment.