PAKISTAN: Balochis are treated as aliens in their own homeland 

Dear friends,

We wish to share with you the following article from Khalid Hayat Jamaldin

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong

An article from Khalid Hayat Jamaldin forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Balochis are treated as aliens in their own homeland

By Khalid Hayat Jamaldin

Torture and kidnapping of Balochs in Balochistan by the Pakistani law enforcement unit, especially the paramilitary forces, has become common practice for the last few years. They kidnap us, arrest us on false charges, torture us, brutally murder us and then throw our corpses away. Many of us are still missing. The reasons behind these incidents are that we are Baloch by ethnicity and we are continuously demanding for the respect of our rights and the recognition of our identity. This mistreatment happens to Balochis at all levels; 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, the capital of Balochistan. It happened when I left my hometown, Noshki, which is situated about 120 km from Quetta. When we reached Quetta, the time was about 09.00 pm, and the van was stopped a couple of times by the paramilitary forces. Each time the same questions were asked: Where is the van coming from and what is 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 cloths”.

After the van dropped us off at its final destination, I had to catch a rikshaw (a three- wheeled taxi) to take me 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. My reply was the same every time. And I was asked to get off the rikshaw 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 open. Moreover, their rude behaviour towards me was torturing, annoying and made me nervous. And I felt that I had entered a different or an occupied territory.

Having almost reached my destination, I was again stopped by the forces, and had to go through 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 soldier disliked my reply and started to shout at me while threatening to punish me in a way that I have never thought of before. I asked him to let me speak to his officer as I found his behaviour offensive.

When he did not return immediately, I went to look for him to resolve the problem myself so that I could leave. When I found him, I overheard him telling his officer not to release me beacause he wanted to teach me a lesson as I was trying to be “smart”. By now I knew things were going to get inscrutable. They did not allow me to leave and made me wait for a very long time, which was a mental torture to me. Furthermore, I was forced to stand at the roadside. I asked to see their senior officer. They told me that he was about to arrive soon and that they have already decided what to do with me. I was mentally prepared to face the consequences of my actions and I recalled what I have heard from other Balochs who had experienced brutal behaviour towards them; their stories are true.

A few minutes later, the Major arrived in a red Toyota four-wheeled pickup, with gunmen, followed by a one-door pickup full of armed men. The latter welcomed the Major, and thereafter asked me to see him. The major, who looked like a “practising Muslim” with a long beard, greeted me and asked for my name. The Major’s name was Asim, according to his nametag. I started the conversation in English and told me that his men had lodged a complaint against me.
I replied “Major, it is good that they have someone who listens to them. To whom and where should I complain about their rude behaviours that I faced since I came to this city?”

We went further and discussed the issue. I told him that I was carrying my laptop and two cloths in this bag and that I have zipped and unzipped it several times since I came to the city. I said: “I have just told your solider the same story and if he wanted to check whether it is true, he is welcome. However, 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 to ensure the security of the population and they were asked to do so 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 and there has rather been an increase of torture cases against us. He then asked me again for my Identity card to double-check it and asked me where I was working. I replied that I was jobless, that I just came to the city to buy some stuff and that I 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 wrapped in a plastic bag. I was already prepared to face all this when they were discussing among themselves that they wanted to teach me a lesson. After showing it to the Major, he asked if I was indeed in possession of the drug.

I replied “I am really sorry to say that, but you have not been listening to a single word that I have been telling you. Let me repeat it for you: this bag has been unzipped several times at different checkposts and this time I did not protest nor show them the bag. But I asked them to unzip 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 apparently found this piece of rubbish in my bag without even opening and searching every pocket of it. And for your information, neither have I ever smoked in my life nor am I a drug addict or a dealer carrying a couple of grams of marijuana with me to make an earning”.

I continued to tell the Major that this was really childish, that I have heard all of this before and have seen it in the movies and that it was good that I was seeing it in real life. For a while, I thought the major has realized that his men have chosen the wrong tactics 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. Their words 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 even know the importance of the Quran?”

The Major interrupted me 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, mentally tortured me and tried to prove that I am a drug dealer,” I told him. People started to gather, but the paramilitary forces moved them and prohibited them from crowding the area. Now I was mentally prepared to go into the depth of the issue to find out to what extent these so called “life-savers or protectors” of this country will threaten and torture me.

The Major asked for my close friends’ contact numbers, which I refused to give him, 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 that there was no reason to worry him. He dialed my brother’s number and I could not hear what he was saying as he moved away from me. 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 speak to Asim to find out why he lied to my brother and this time his gunmen did not allow me to go near him but still I persisted and managed to ask him.

Asim asked me if I wanted him to tell my elder brother the truth that 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. “You do not know me, but 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 biased: 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 beating by his solieder. 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 took me 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 shamed Pakistan and that I have misbehaved towards 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 that I might be a doctor by profession when I heard them telling the officer on duty that this guy did not know what type of doctors we were. He would soon find out after the FIR was launched and he would be 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 during a farewell party arranged by all my friends before I left for th 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 when we are no longer their victims”.

He requested the senior police officer, who had entered the room earlier and prepared pen and paper without listening to me, not to launch the FIR. My friend told me he would handle everything and I only have 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 only then they will accept my apology. The session continued as his demand was inacceptable to me.

The lawyer 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 to them, not at any cost and not because of the physical or mental torture I was supposed 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 had a trim mustache and long beard: I just want to know 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 02.00 am 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. Whenever I see someone being insulted at the roadside by these people, it will remind me of this incident.
I do not want to be biased like Major Asim, but the questions will always arise in my head:

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 the Major not play a neutral role in this whole incident?

When I studied in America, I have never blamed the Americans for treating me as a third class citizen, but in reality we, the Balochs are treated as a third class citizens in our own country. I have travelled around the world including the United States and the 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 I have never been stopped by any law enforcement agency to prove my identity and I have never been asked to have my bags checked. While I was carrying out my research in Washington DC, I had to cross the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Capitol Hill buildings in order to get to the Congress Library, but there has been not a single day whenI have been stopped. However, in my own country I have being asked ten times in one single hour to prove my identity.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. The above statement has only been forwarded by the AHRC.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Forwarded Article
Document ID : AHRC-FAT-046-2010
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Torture,