Pakistan escalates abuses against women, children in Balochistan

(Daily Sangar)

The Pakistan military has escalated a weeks-long sweeping operation in Balochistan’s Mashkay area, the hometown of Baloch militant leader Dr Allah Nazar Baloch.

Although several areas of Balochistan have been under constant military assault for over a decade, the latest military operation is unprecedented in terms of the number of the affected women and children.

At least one woman and a child have been killed while 60 others have been taken into custody during the last one week.

Malik Jan, wife of Ghaus Bakhsh, and her daughter were killed earlier this week in aerial shelling by the security forces.

Those taken into custody include Dr Allah Nazar’s two sisters — Noor Khatoon and Sher Khatoon – both whisked away in different raids.

Sher Khatoon was arrested with her daughter and two grandchildren –two-year-old Beebagr and six-month-old Maahen.

Earlier this year, Allah Nazar’s wife, Fazeela, was abducted by the military forces along with three other women and six children in Quetta on October 30. They were later released.

Hawa Bibi, and her two years old daughter Raji are also among those taken into custody in this week’s assault in Mashkay.

Baloch activists and political leaders have taken to the social media to campaign for the release of the women and children, trying to draw the attention of the international media and human rights groups to the recent wave of enforced disappearances and killings.

The Baloch National Front (BNF), an alliance of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) and the Baloch Students’ Organization (BSO), have called for a wheel-jam strike throughout Balochistan on Decemeber 10, the International Human Rights Day, to protest against the plight of Baloch women and children.

However, there have been little coverage of the recent human rights abuses from either media houses or rights watchdogs, which have been denied access by Pakistani authorities to the conflict-ridden areas of Balochistan.