"I could be picked up anytime"
Almost every Baloch family has a member who has gone ‘missing’. It’s routine here. My cousin was taken by unnamed security personnel and two months later his dead body was found by a roadside. He was taken to hospital for an autopsy and the doctors found he had been shot, and there were signs his ribcage had been drilled into, presumably as a method of torture. They accused him of being a militant, but he wasn’t.People are taken all the time, and then their bodies are dumped. The killings aren’t an illusion. Even today, a former senator, Sana Baloch, tweeted that a body of an abducted man had been found.Photo showing Missing Persons rally, Quetta August 2013I support the missing person rallies and the hunger strike, but I’ve never joined in. I have five children and I don’t want them growing up without their father. I’m too afraid of attending such rallies.I’m against violent acts, because violence creates violence. Innocent people are killed by the security forces – women, children, poets, teachers. I live in a constant state of fear: I could be picked up anytime. That makes Balochs turn to fighting.Photo showing Missing Persons rally, Quetta August 2013When a Baloch is abducted, the Baloch militants get their revenge. Those who can go into the hills join the fight, the rest of us live in fear. We’re into our sixth war since 1948. What have we got from these six wars? More hatred and violence [Editor’s note: Unrest and abductions have risen sharply since the 2006 death of the Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. Baloch activists claim the army lured him into a trap then bombed the cave he had set up camp in. The government says the cave simply collapsed on its own].If the Baloch separatists fail to attack the army, because it’s so well protected, then they attack civilians, often the Pashtuns [Editor’s note: 55% of Balochistan’s residents speak Balochi as their first language, 30% speak Pashto, while the remaining 15% speak Sindhi, Seraki , Punjabi and Urdu. Mother tongues are an important marker of ethnic distinction in Pakistan].I don’t understand how violence can lead to peace and prosperity. I want independence. Any group of people want the freedom to live without fear, without repression.Photo showing Missing Persons rally, Quetta August 2013