August 16, 2023

By Maryam Missal


Before Akhtar Mengal appeared in a television interview criticizing the appointment of Anwaar ul Haq Kakar as the caretaker prime minister, he had written a scathing letter to the PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif of the same.

Voicepk had highlighted this disappointment from various quarters previously.

In his online note to Sharif, the President of BNP said:

“Instead of assigning blame, it would be wiser for us to introspect and rectify our own shortcomings. Focusing on improving Balochistan means starting with the grave issue of enforced disappearances, not furthering the agendas of powerful entities. Your nomination of a candidate for the position of Prime Minister, who is associated with undermining democratic principles rather than upholding them, signals a worrying shift.”

But during a recent interview with Munizae Jahangir, Mengal admitted to the circumstances of signing on the Army Act 2020 that allowed the extension of then Army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He stated that during the introduction of the Army Act 2020, Jahangir Tareen and Pervez Khattak had approached him. It was then that he realized that the Army Act would be enacted, whether he consented or not.

Ultimately, he made the decision to offer his approval in exchange for the immediate release of 150 individuals who had been subjected to enforced disappearances.

When asked about why he lent power to the elements responsible for enforced disappearances across Balochistan, Mengal explained that it would have happened anyway but then ‘he chose to bring families together at the cost of his dignity’.

“My objection is not directed at Anwaar ul Haq’s character, it is directed at his character,” he said. “He believes that enforced disappearances are not a significant concern. Our stance is that anyone aiming to contribute to Balochistan’s improvement should address the matter of enforced disappearances as a starting point.”

Meanwhile, Habib Tahir, HRCP Vice Chairman for Balochistan, asserts that Akhtar Mengal’s support base hinges on his position against enforced disappearances, given his notable advocacy against this issue.

Tahir noted,

“To maintain his political stature, it is essential for him to make such statements. The people of Balochistan still regard him highly, but he should have dissociated himself from the government when it was most appropriate, rather than when his political career faced jeopardy.”

Considering the ongoing situation in Wadh, Tahir holds the view that the allegiances of Anwaar ul Haq are in line with those challenging Sardar Akhtar Mengal in the region, which has also led to Mengal’s reservation against him as PM.

Politics aside, Amina Masood Janjua, the wife of missing person, and the Chairperson of Defence of Human Rights, says it was ‘astonishing’ to read what Sardar Akhtar Mengal had to say about Anwaar ul Haq Kakar as it had been thought that it was a collective decision.

“Mengal’s concerns are real, the current situation of democracy is threatening for the future of enforced disappearances,” said Janjua while referring to Kakar’s older statements about the matter of enforced disappearances.

“Akhtar Mengal’s decision to sign on the Army Act 2020 was the correct decision for that moment, but for long term, it was not a wise decision,” she said adding that Baloch voices needed to stay together to fight against the threats to the region.

“The way democracy has been derailed, it appears the future is even darker for missing persons,”

said Janjua.


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