Unlawful Detention of President of Balochistan National Party

This urgent appeal is to bring into kind attention of the International Communitythe illicit detention and mortification of Balochistan National Party Chief, Akhtar Mengal by the Pakistan Security agencies in Karachi prison.

Akhtar Mengal and 500 senior Balochistan National Party activists arrested in November 2006, before President Musharaf visit to Balochistan, to stop BNP from peaceful long march against military operation, enforced disappearances and systematic Talibanization of Balochistan province by military rulers.

Akhtar Mengal:

Akhtar Mengal  is president of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) and former Chief Minister of Balochistan province (1997-1998). After May 1998, nuclear tests conducted by central government in Balochistan, he resigned from Chief Minister Post and continued as leader of opposition in Balochistan Assembly.
BNP believes on de-nuclearization of Baloch region and opposes Pakistan's nuclear and missile development program  for which Balochistan is being used as testing ground since early 1970's.
BNP is a secular, moderate nationalist party which demands political, economic and social rights of the people. It demands  autonomy and control of the province's natural resources and  development projects  (including Gwadar port).
BNP opposes the establishment of military cantonments, unprecedented troop deployment and check posts established in eastern, southern and western regions of Balochistan to suppress the progressive Baloch nationalists.
BNP is also concerned over systematic Talibanization of Balochistan by central government and security agencies. Party believes that Islamabad policies are intended for consolidating its control of the province's politics and resources through proxy religious parties, and suppressing  moderate, progressive and nationalist" forces.

Akhtar Mengal unlawful detention:

On April 2, 2006 Balochistan National Party held a rally of around one hundred thousand Baloch people, against military operation, enforced disappearances, establishment of military cantonments, Gwadar port project and exploitation of resources of Balochistan province by central government.

After successful political rally and mass support by the people of Balochistan, military and security forces started new phase of harassment and intimidation against Balochistan National Party leaders. 

On April 5, 2006, undercover agents of security agencies tried to abduct Akhtar Mengal's school going children. Akhtar Mengal stopped his car and asked them who they were, why he was being followed, and what they wanted of him. They refused to give any satisfactory answer. Considering a security issue, Akhtar Mengal security guards picked up the two riders of one motorcycle and carried them back to Akhtar's house intending to hand them over to the police, at which stage the two admitted to being army personnel. Almost immediately, a large posse of law enforcement agency men (LEA) arrived at the house, took away their two companions who had been picked up, and laid siege to the house and its occupants.

On April 11, Iqbal Haider, secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) along with a group of fellow commission members, visited Akhtar's house and that same night forces were withdrawn from the house and Akhtar Mengal and his family were free to come and go.

At some later stage, it was found that a havildar of the Pakistan Army, one Qurban Hussain, had filed on April 5 2006 an FIR (170/06) at Darakshan Police Station against Akhtar Mengal and the four concerned guards. On the basis of this FIR, a case (8/06) was registered in the Anti-Terrorism Court-V (ATC), Karachi. When Akhtar's relatives attempted to file an FIR against the LEAs, it was refused. A constitutional petition (D-1917/06) was filed on Akhtar's behalf in the Sindh High Court asking that an FIR be accepted and registered. On October 13, the court restrained the ATC from pronouncing a judgment against the four accused. The restraining order is still in force and despite this restraining order, Akhtar's four guards named in the FIR, who were under arrest, were convicted on December 9, 2006, by the ATC and sentenced to several terms of imprisonment, including life, for each of the offences and each was fined Rs.140,000.

Akhtar Mengal himself remained free to move about at will, which he did, speaking at public meetings in various places in Balochistan, and continuing with his normal political engagements until November 28, 2006 when he was arrested, together with 14 of his party men, by the Balochistan police and taken to Lassi Farm House in Hub Town, which was declared a sub-jail. He was kept there until December 26, 2006 when his arrest was disclosed and he was produced before the same Anti Terrorist Court. His 14 companions were removed to an undisclosed destination. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

Akhtar Mengal degrading treatment and Trial:

Akhtar Mengal is not being trialed in open court but in a Karachi prison. In camera, Human rights groups and family members are not allowed to witness the proceedings. Mr Iqbal Haider, secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, witnessed the first hearing in his trial and this is what he saw: "Mr Mengal was brought into the courtroom and shoved into an iron cage with bars all around that stood in a corner away from his counsel.

Akhtar Mengal's father, Vetran Baloch nationalist, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, has expressed the fear that the government and security agencies might kill his son.  Akhtar Mengal is denied from all basic medical facilities too.

Akhtar Mengal lawyer has moved three applications, one seeking the provision of medical attention, a second asking that he be given 'B' class accommodation, and the third for his release on bail. The hearing of all the applications was deferred. The reason given for the deferment of the 'B' class application was that no income tax certificate was available, but when on January 10, a certificate was produced to the presiding officer, no order was passed. On January 10, when senior advocate Mr Azizullah Sheikh arrived at Karachi Central Prison to have his papers signed by his client, Akhtar Mengal, he was denied access to him. Iqbal Haider from HRCP was also, that same day, was refused permission to meet Akhtar.

On January 19, 2007 the judge of an anti-terrorism court disallowed the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) from observing the proceedings of a case against former chief minister of Balochistan Akhtar Mengal. Even the judge had denied entry into the court to the HRCP secretary-general and other nominated members of commission to witness trial.

All proceedings of trial are being conducted in camera to intimidate Mr. Mengal and progressive Baloch politicians to stop them from demanding socio-economic and political rights of the people of Balochistan.

HRCP secretary-general said "Hence there is no justification for holding trial inside the prison in camera and denying presence of even observers of the HRCP and family members".

Akhtar Mengal, as head of political party, four times elected representative, former chief minister and leader of opposition of Balochistan assembly and prominent politician is entitled to all basic legal rights and facilities. However, he has been denied to all basic legal and human rights just because of his political standing and opposition to military rule and operation in Balochistan province.


Balochistan National Party, Appeal to the International Community, European Union, OHCHR, HRW, AI, and concerned human rights organizations to press upon the Pakistan military rulers to abide by the domestic and international covenants and must not intimidate, harass, disappear, and eliminate minority ethnic Baloch people and their political representatives, those demanding political and economic rights of their people and region.

BNP appeals for open and fair trial for Akhtar Mengal. It is not only in the interest of justice but also in the interest of the government to allow trials in open courts.

We appeal to the International Parliamentary Union, Commonwealth and EU Human Rights commission to appoint observers to monitor Akhtar Mengal trial and investigate in cases of enforced disappearances of ethnic Baloch and Sindhi people in Pakistan by the security agencies.

It is also requested that UN, EU, should take notice of gross human rights violations, systematic elimination of progressive and secular Baloch nationalists, enforced disappearances, and political, economic and legal discrimination of ethnic Baloch minority in Pakistan.

We appeal that large number of BNP members held behind the bars, and denied by basic legal and prison rights, should be brought to justice and must be treated according to the United Nation Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.   

Balochistan National Party

Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan