Voice for Baloch Missing Persons vice president Mama Qadeer on Monday said that Balochistan’s problems — especially the missing persons issue — cannot be solved simply by wearing Balochi clothes.
The human rights activist’s comments come a day after the Opposition’s 11-party alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), held its third show of power in the Balochistan capital.
His reference of Balochi clothes, in particular, was targeted at PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz who attended the rally dressed in a traditional Balochi dress.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who also addressed the event, via video from Gilgit-Baltistan’s Shiger area, had also decried the issue of missing persons, calling on the government to listen to the demands of the relatives of those who have disappeared over the years.
“In every PML-N era, Baloch persons went missing. Their bodies were found tortured and mass graves were also discovered,” said Qadeer, in a video message recorded from a hunger strike camp.
Speaking of PPP’s time in power, he said that “even more Baloch persons went missing in those days” and their “mutilated remains” kept turning up.
“Where were Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari then?” he asked.
Qadeer claimed that during the PML-N era when relatives of the missing persons travelled on foot from Quetta to Karachi and then onward to Islamabad, over as far a distance as 3,000km, they were issued threats and treated inhumanely.
“A truck was run over our convoy and women and children were injured,” said Qadeer.
“There was no one to take us to the hospital even. We were sent to Karachi. This happened near Lahore. Where was Maryam Nawaz then?” he went on to ask, in reference to the city that has historically remained a PML-N stronghold.
Criticising both the PPP and the PML-N leadership, the rights activist asked why their governments did not solve the health, education, gas, water and other issues of Balochistan when they were in power.
He said that the PDM leadership had “put on a show” at the Quetta rally by pretending to raise their voices for the Baloch missing persons.
“This was an attempt to increase their [PDM’s] votebank and erase the dirt that they did [in the past],” he said.
Qadeer said that Maryam should have “wiped the tears from their [relatives of Baloch missing persons] eyes and placed her hand on their heads” and should have comforted them during their time of difficulty.
“When it comes to Balochistan’s issues and the problem of missing persons, everyone is one and the same,” he said.
Qadeer concluded the video by citing the famous PML-N slogan “vote ko izzat do” (honour the vote), saying that without addressing basic human rights violations and injustices against the masses, these slogans are “hollow”.