The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed alarm over reports of a fresh wave of "enforced disappearance" in Balochistan in a press release issued on Thursday.
The press release cited "the most recent incident" in which Abdul Hafeez Baloch, a postgraduate student at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, was missing.
ReleaseHafeezBaloch was trending on Twitter for many days, with activists and students demanding safe recovery of the missing person.
The Baloch students council, Islamabad is holding a sit-in camp at the university for three days for safe release of Hafeez but unfortunately they had not yet "received any information about his whereabouts".
In its press release, the HRCP said: "Mr Baloch was allegedly disappeared while in Khuzdar, where he volunteers at a local school.
"Reports suggest that he was abducted in front of his students. The sheer brazenness of this act underscores the increasing impunity accorded to perpetrators. Mr Baloch must be recovered immediately and the perpetrators identified and held accountable."
The human rights commission regretted that the federal government's "earlier pledge to criminalise enforced disappearances continues to ring hollow."
The press release said two students at Balochistan University were allegedly disappeared last November, but an extended sit-in by students at the university was met with little more than vague assurances that they would be recovered.
In its press release, the HRCP particularly raised concerns by the "continuing shroud of silence over enforced disappearances in the province, which remains deliberately cut off from the mainstream media."
It added: "The state must understand that it cannot expect to resolve the legitimate grievances of the Baloch people if it is not prepared to let these grievances see the light of day."
On February 13, Baloch Students Council staged a protest in front of Islamabad Press Club against the enforced disappearance of Abdul Hafeez and other Balochi young men who had been killed.
The protest for Hafeez's safe recovery then turned into a rally and later the participants of the march held the sit-in at the campus of the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. "We are setting till the #ReleaseHafeezBaloch [release of Hafeez Baloch]," read the Twitter post.
Abdul Hafeez Baloch, who is the only student from Khuzdar doing MPhil, went missing from a private academy in Balochistan’s Khuzdar on February 8, reported Samaa. He belongs to the Baghbana Bajoi village of the district.
His family registered a missing persons complaint at the Khuzdar city police station. The police had cordoned off the academy where Abdul Hafeez taught and begun questioning people near the scene.
A large number of cases were pending before the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, which probes the missing persons cases.
A case of missing bloggers and journalists was ongoing in the Islamabad High Court where Mudassar Naru, a missing person since 2018, was being discussed. His four-year-old son Sachal regularly appeared before the IHC along with his grandmother to attend hearings. In the recent hearing of the case, the high court ordered the commission to submit a report before the next hearing.
Earlier, the court had granted time to the commission for effective investigation in the missing persons case and directed it to present final arguments.
Besides, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had remarked that persons involved in enforced disappearances could not do it on their own without the consent of the federal government.
The commission is headed by Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, who is also chairperson of the National Accountability Bureau.
In December 2021, the commission issued its progress report for the month of November and claimed that it had disposed of 6,047 cases during the month of November, reported The News.
The commission received 8,279 cases of alleged enforced disappearance from March 2011 to November 30, 2021 across the country, read the report.