A prominent human rights defender from Balochistan province, working on the cases of disappeared persons was shot dead by unknown persons riding on a motorbike.
Mr. Naeem Sabir Baloch, the district coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an NGO, was gunned down on March 1, 2011 in Khuzdar market, Khuzdar district, Balochistan. When he was standing in front of his shop unknown persons wearing masks and riding a motorbike opened fire at him. Mr. Sabir was struck by several bullets and passed away on the spot. Following the shooting the assailants fled the scene.
Mr. Naeem Sabir Baloch was a renown social activist who became popular for taking on cases of disappeared persons. He helped the HRCP to document the cases for legal process. He had been receiving continuous death threats for several months from persons believed to be from the intelligence agencies. He once revealed to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that he was under threat to his life and one day he would either be abducted by the law enforcement agencies and disappeared or killed.
In Balochistan province an increase in the extra judicial killings of the activists has been observed since last year. The family members of the victims and political and nationalists groups accuse the Frontier Corps (FC) a Para military force and state intelligence agencies for involvement in the extrajudicial killings. It is reported in many cases that the FC and plain clothed persons abducted activists whose whereabouts had been unknown. Then after many months their bullet riddled and tortured bodies were found. Khuzdar district has remained a centre point for disappearances and abductions.
The targeted killing of Mr. Naeem Sabir is a great setback to the human rights movement in Pakistan. This is particularly so in Balochistan province where law enforcement agencies enjoy complete impunity for killings and abductions. The abductors are no respecter of persons and in recent events two lawyers and two professors were abducted and have since disappeared.
The situation of abductions, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings has been prevalent not only in Balochistan but all through Pakistan and the government has done nothing to rein in the intelligence agencies believed to be responsible, despite overwhelming evidence that this is so.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government to establish a judicial commission to probe these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice. The FC and other military forces must be withdrawn from Balochistan so that the law and order situation of the province might return to normal.
The murder of Mr. Naeem Sabir Baloch must be properly investigated and justice provided to his loved ones and family.