‘Now there are only women left in our homes’

Quetta’s Muhammad Ali Jinnah Road is crowded with people almost all day. Behind this road is the court highway on which the Quetta Press Club is located. People come to this highway almost daily to protest on various issues so that local journalists can easily report their protests. That is why the sound of slogans is usually heard on this highway all day long.

Beyond that sound, a camp has been set up on a corner of the highway for the past 11 years, displaying photographs of more than 100 people who have been forcibly disappeared over the past two decades. ۔ The camp has been set up by the families of the missing so that their voices can reach the higher authorities. But despite the passage of time, not only have these missing persons not returned, but many more have gone missing. The camp also has some photos of people whose mutilated bodies were found shortly after their disappearance.

A young woman named Hasiba Qambrani has been touring the camp for months. The photos here include photos of other people from his area, including his two brothers.

Hasiba Qambrani hails from Kali Qambrani village on the outskirts of Quetta. She told that she has lived in extreme poverty for most of her life and has seen deprivation since she was very young. For this reason, his education has been limited to government schools and he completed the rest of his education up to BA through tuition and private examinations. His father worked in a small office in Kali Qambrani as well as volunteered to be the imam of a mosque, and his mother worked tirelessly to help him with household expenses.

Salman Qambrani, a brother of Hasiba, worked as a financier and used this job to teach his younger siblings in government schools. With the help of this income, his younger brother Hassan Qambrani was studying at a university in Islamabad.

When we go out to recover our loved ones, people start asking where you are going, who you are talking to, why you are standing on the road. Police officers deliberately call the police station which is far away from our house under the pretext of seeking information, ”said Hasiba Qambrani.

In July 2015, plainclothes officers from the police, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Frontier Corps (FC) and other agencies raided Hasiba’s home and took her brother Salman Qambrani with them. He said they needed him for a few hours for interrogation. He also stopped his family members from protesting that any demonstration could cause further damage to Salman Qambrani. Shortly after the incident, his cousin Gazin Qambrani was also taken into custody. His family members tried to speak to police and local politicians, but police refused to register a case, saying “it is beyond their power to lodge any complaint against the institutions.”

Even elected politicians in his area have been giving him false hopes of Salman and Ghazin’s recovery for a year and a half. According to Hasiba, her family waited for Eid and August 14 so that perhaps ‘their brothers will be released in those days out of pity and compassion’. But on August 11, 2016, they were informed that three mutilated bodies had been recovered from Bhag area of ​​Kachhi district of Balochistan, out of which two bodies were of Salman and Ghazin. According to Hasiba, there were burn marks and bullet marks on their bodies and it was clear from their condition that “their hands and feet were broken and their nails were pulled out”.

On February 14, 2020, another of his brothers, Hassan Qambrani, left home to pick up some belongings and did not return until late at night. When his family went to look for him in a state of distress, locals informed him that his brother had been picked up from the bazaar by security personnel. When he arrived at the scene, another of his cousins ​​was also picked up. After several days of patrolling the police stations, the police finally registered a case of kidnapping of his brother against unknown persons and reiterated that they did not have the authority to lodge a complaint against the security agencies.

The Missing Persons Camp contains pictures of more than 100 people who have gone missing in the last two decades.

Hasiba told that her family members were not the first to disappear from Kali Qambrani, but that enforced disappearances from her village began in 2009. About 13 people have been missing since then. She says that in the beginning, people were rescued after protesting and talking to the media, but after 2015, the recovery process has come to a complete halt.

Hasiba says she has relied on the police and elected representatives to rescue Salman and Gazin, but after Hassan’s disappearance, she turned to a Baloch missing persons camp and her family. Began a political struggle for She has taken her complaint to the federally run Pakistan Citizens Portal and has written letters to PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Senate Human Rights Committee chairman Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, but to no avail. No rope. On June 11, 2020, Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langu met him and assured him that his brother would be recovered in two or three days, but no trace of him has been found so far.

Hasiba said there are now many houses in her area where only women live because all the men in her house have been forcibly disappeared. “Every time we go out to rescue our loved ones, people from all sides start asking where you are going, who you are going to talk to, why you are standing on the road.” According to him, many men also like to keep warning them about which of their strategies can benefit or harm them and which method they should adopt.

It is a great struggle for a woman in such a situation to speak out against such issues. “Even in the protest camps, I am in the majority of men and I feel insecure there. The police keep calling me at will, saying that they need some information from me. They deliberately call me to the police station which is far away from my house.

Raza Gilani is a journalist, researcher and left-wing political activist associated with the student movement.