The Pakistani security forces' abductions of Baloch women in Pakistan to quell the Baloch aspiration for independence are causing protests across Balochistan. Often, these women are arrested without a warrant, sent to secret locations, denied a lawyer, and physically and psychologically tortured.
In 2017, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar stated that there are "secret torture cells" operating throughout the country. He further said that "no one, including the parliament and Supreme Court, knows how many such torture cells are present, the number of people that are present there, and the number of people that have died during interrogation." It is believed that many Baloch women are being taken to these torture cells.
According to Pakistani NGO Voice for the Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), "more than 45,000 people have been forcibly disappeared by the Pakistan Army, and more than 5,000 missing persons have been 'killed and dumped' over the last decade."
Following is an overview of some of the abductions in Balochistan by Pakistan's security forces:
On February 17, 2023, Baloch female activist Mahal Baloch was arrested from her home in Quetta by Pakistan's Counter Terrorism Department (CTD). The CTD claimed that Mahal Baloch was "planning to carry out a suicide attack" in Balochistan, stating that it had recovered "a suicide jacket" with "four to five kilograms of explosive material attached to it from her handbag." The CTD said that the woman was planning to attack "important installations" or "security forces" in Quetta.
Baloch human rights groups and her family forcefully denied the claims and accused the police of illegally detaining the woman, who is the wife of late Nadeem Baloch, a member of the militant group Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) killed in 2016
The Human Rights Council of Balochistan (HRCB) stated that the CTD broke into Mahal's house, searched it, took money and "whisked away mother-in-law Mahnaz, Mahal and three children – Nugrah, Nazeenk, and Banadi." HRCB alleged: "All family members including children were blindfolded and taken to a police station. The children were interrogated in the absence of a guardian and were placed in a room where they could hear Mahal's screams coming from an adjacent room." Human rights groups stated that the woman was denied a lawyer and is being brutally tortured while in custody. According to family members, Mahal was produced in front of a local court, where she collapsed unconscious due to severe physical and psychological torture. Her children were released.
Mahal Baloch (Source: Twitter)
Mahal Baloch with her daughters. (Source: Twitter)
Protests against the abduction of Mahal Baloch.
Mahal Baloch's family at protests in Quetta (Source: Twitter)
Rashida And Rahim Zahri
Protests were held in Balochistan against the forced disappearance of Rashida Zahri and her husband Rahim Zahri.
On February 3, 2023, Pakistan Army and plain-clothed Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) personnel raided the house of Rahim and Rashida Zahri at Geshkori town in Quetta. The army arrested Rahim, Rashida, their one-year-old daughter Dua, four-year-old son Yahya, and Rahim's mother, Mehbas Khatoon. Rahim's mother and children were released after two days.
Rashida was also released after days of physical and psychological torture. However, her husband Rahim Zahri is still in Pakistan Army and ISI custody in secret torture cells.
Rahim and Rashida Zahri (Source: Twitter)
Protest against the abduction of Rashida and Rahim Zahri (Source: Twitter)
Women And Children Detained
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On October 31, 2022, a large-scale military operation was conducted by the Pakistan Army in the mountain ranges of Bolan, Balochistan. During the operation, shepherds were killed, their huts burned, their livestock looted, and houses were bulldozed to ground.
According to the details, the military launched offensives in Bolan, Kaman, Yakho, Uch Kaman, Gummadi, Darag Pirani, Saaro, and Buzgar remained under siege. People faced strict restrictions. Patients were not allowed to visit hospitals nearby and household commodities were prohibited from reaching the residents.
The following are some of the names of women and children detained during the military operation: Mehna Samalani Baloch; Zargul Marri Baloch; Mahsu Samalani Baloch; Gul Bibi Samalani Baloch; Sammo Samalani Baloch; Hanifa Marri Baloch; Zarbakht Samalani Baloch; Bani Samalani Baloch; Farida Samalani Baloch; Dur Khatoon Marri Baloh; Zarbakht Samalani Baloch; Sameeda Samalani Baloch; and Raji Samalani Baloch. These women and children were later released thanks to the intervention of tribal leaders from the area.
Habiba Pir Mohammad
On May 19, 2022, Baloch artist and poet Habiba Pir Mohammad was abducted from her residence in the Gulshan Mizdor area of Karachi. According to her daughter Nina Baloch, during the night some unknown people knocked on their door. When she opened the door of the house, they saw dozens of Pakistan rangers. Pakistani forces rushed into the house, without showing an arrest warrants. During the abduction, they took her and her family's mobile phones.
Habiba Pir Mohammad was transferred to an unknown location and there has been no new information about her since her abduction. Her daughter stated that the mother is not affiliated with any political party and that she is just an artist. Habiba Pir Mohammad is the niece of Ali Jan Qaumi, a renowned Balochi poet.
Habiba Pir Mohammad (Source: Twitter)
Three Abducted Women
In April 2021, the Pakistan Army started a military operation in Gichk district of Panjgur, Balochistan. On April 9, the Pakistan Army abducted three women in broad daylight. They were identified as Raj Bibi, the younger daughter of Pindok Baloch, Nazal, daughter of Musafir Baloch, and Kapot, the teenage daughter of Awaz Baloch. There has been no new information about them since their abduction.
"Kill And Dump" Operation: The Assassination Of Zamur Bugti And Her Daughter Jaana Domki
On January 31, 2012, the wife and daughter of Balochistan provincial assembly member Mir Muhammad Bakhtiar Khan Domki were assassinated in Karachi. Zamur Bugti and 13-year old daughter, Jaana Domki, were shot while returning to their residence around midnight, shortly after leaving the uncle's house. The driver of their car was also killed.
The Indian media outlet Outlook reported: "A man dressed in black shalwar kameez and wearing a black face mask jumped out of the car and shot the driver, Barkat Baloch, as they tried to get away. The driver was killed on the spot as a result of multiple bullet wounds to the head. Then the assailant opened the rear door at which point two bikes arrived at the scene and parked on the left and right side of the car.
"Upon opening the door, Zamur Bugti offered her jewelry, phone and valuables to the man, thinking that he was a robber. In response, the killer told Zamur that he didn't need her valuables and that he was there to kill her and her daughter, in Urdu. Zamur Bugti told him to spare her daughter and that he could kill her. At this point the killer went to the daughter who was sitting in the front passenger seat and fired multiple shots at her, hitting her in the chest and neck.
"Zamur Bugti was made to witness the brutal killing of her daughter. Zamur Bugti was then shot over a dozen times in the head, face and neck at point blank range and was left in a pool of blood. During this incident, the police were spectating from a distance."
Outlook also stated: "These 'target killings' have all the characteristics of a political assassination by Pakistan's security and intelligence agencies, in a long succession of what has come to be known as 'kill and dump' operations targeting Baloch rebels, dissidents, and their families, both within and outside Balochistan."
Zamur was the sister of Baloch Republican Party (BRP) leader Brahamdagh Khan Bugti, and the granddaughter of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who was Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan, a former federal minister of state for the interior, who was killed in a military operation in August 2006, under President Pervez Musharraf's regime. The Indian media outlet Outlook stated that commentators have noted that the goal of Zamur Bugti and Jaana Domki's killers was to send a "chilling message" to Brahamdagh Bugti, who is living in exile in Geneva. Pakistan's recent efforts to ask for his extradition have failed.
Jaana Domki (Source: Twitter)
On January 31, 2018, a "shutter-down strike," during which participating shops do not open for business, was observed all over Balochistan to mark the martyrdom anniversary of Zamur Bugti and her daughter Jaana Domki. (Source: Twitter)
On September 16, 2008, the Pakistan army, paramilitary forces, and plain-clothed ISI personnel raided New Kahan, a locality of Quetta, during the month of Ramadan. It was reported that, during the raid, five Marri Baloch women were wounded, while Gulnaz Marri was killed. According to human rights groups, 198 people belonging to the Marri tribe were arrested and taken to undisclosed locations, where they were subjected to the worst forms of torture.
Gulnaz Marri (Source: Twitter)
429 People Missing
On December 14, 2005, the Pakistani paramilitary troops accused Baloch people of "firing eight rockets at a paramilitary base on the outskirts of the town of Kohlu, a stronghold of the Marri tribe, while President Pervez Musharraf was visiting it," as reported by the Asian Human Rights Commission.
After Musharraf's visit, Pakistani forces began to attack the area. "During the fighting between local nationalist militants and the government forces particularly, due to the aerial bombardments, the local population started migrating to other places including to Punjab and Sindh provinces... After some days around 429 persons left the Kahan district of Kohlu, and migrated toward Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab province... Since then there has been no trace of the caravan of 429 persons. After some months people tried to search for the missing people and some army officers deputed to the Kohlu district told the people of the area that so many people were killed in the fighting between the government forces and militants and also in aerial bombardments."
The Asian Human Rights Commission reported that among these 429 people was Zarina Marri, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Balochistan province. After this revelation, human rights groups grew concerned about the fate of the 429 people, among whom were more than 70 women who may have been used "as sex slaves by the Pakistan military."
Zarina Marri (Source: Twitter)
These are just a few of the cases of the abduction of Baloch women by Pakistani security forces. It is time for the world to hold Pakistan's army accountable for war crimes in Balochistan, a region that continues to be oppressed by the Pakistani central government.
The issue of the mass abductions of Baloch women has been protested by Baloch political parties in Balochistan and abroad. The massive scale of rapes and extra-judicial killing of Baloch women and children requires international intervention. An international court of justice needs to be mobilized in order to investigate the slow-motion genocide of Baloch civilians.
*Rudam Azad is a Baloch writer, Baloch representative, and Human Rights activist. He can be reached on Twitter, @RudamAzad
 See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 445, An Independent Balochistan Is A Natural Ally Of The West, January 9, 2023.
 Archive.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/17/farhatullah-babar-says-gitmo-bagram-like-torture-cells-present-in-pakistan, November 17, 2017.
 Eurasiantimes.com/crushing-balochistan-enforced-disappearances-extrajudicial-killings/#:~:text=The%20Voice%20for%20Baloch%20Missing,dumped'%20over%20the%20last%20decade, August 11, 2022.
 Hrcbalochistan.com/ms-mahal-baloch-illegally-detained-and-framed-in-a-false-case, February 19, 2023.
 Outlookindia.com/website/story/an-addiction-to-murder/279848, February 3, 2022.
 Outlookindia.com/website/story/an-addiction-to-murder/279848, February 3, 2022.
 Humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-020-2009, January 22, 2009.