By: Ruzn Baloch
I come back from the duty; hard running day it was, I was really very tired.
Not tired physically, but mentally.
Give me a glass of water; I told my 8-year-old daughter.
“What happened, Sarkar (Chief)?” My wife asked me?
“Nothing, I am just tired.” I replied in a cold tone.
“I am going to sleep, do not disturb me.” I told my wife.
I took a pillow and tried to sleep.
“Aaaaaaaah! (Screaming caused by third degree physical torture), stop please stop, I did nothing, I am just a student. Stop, please stop.” I was dreamt this scenario.
Suddenly, I woke up.
“What happened?” My wife sleeping beside me asked.
“I saw a worse dream.” I replied.
I perspired because of the dream.
My wife passed me a glass of water.
We both were silent.
“Are you okay?” My wife asked me.
“Yes.” I replied.
After having the glass of water, I tried to sleep again, but I failed.
At exactly 8 o’clock at the morning I had to be on duty.
I was a junior soldier and a sweeper in a secret detention center of Paksitan Army.
I belong to Pushtun ethnicity and living in Quetta for last two decades.
The secret detention in which I was in was a torture cell where the Baloch Missing Persons were detained and suffering with severe torture.
Again, the senior officer was in children’s torture cell. The detainee’s age was about 12 or 13-year old. If my son could alive, he would also be of the same age. My son died in an accident.
I don’t know whenever I see Ulfat, the 12 or 13-year-old boy in secret detention center, I miss my child, but I never express my emotions.
“Tell me where your family members are?” The officer was asking the same question continuously and hitting the young boy with a quirt.
“I don’t know.” Ulfat was crying and saying the same answer repeatedly. “Tell me, your uncle is a Sarmarchar, a freedom fighter, right?
“No, not at all, my uncle is only a labor.” Ulfat replied screamingly.
“No, all you people from Awaran, Mashkay, Jahu, and even men from rest of the areas of Balochistan are Sarmarchar. Tell me, where are your family men?” Asked the interrogating officer to Ulfat.
Each question contains one quirt.
The quirt was a short-handled riding whip with a braided leather lash. A lather lash hit on a kid’s body can reach him to death due to its severe pain.
Whenever the officer hit this young boy who was brought in this secret detention center from Karachi last year, I feel very much resisted but as I am the part of Pakistan Army, I have to control my emotions but how to control; at least I am a human.
I was suffering from anxiety and mental pressure since 3rd November 2017, because this was the day when Ulfat was brought here, and I saw him for the first time.
Ulfat was detained in Karachi along with 5 or 6 more boys on October 28, 2017. Before they were in Karachi Cell but on November 3rd, they had been brought here.
Whenever I see Ulfat, I feel that I see my own child in him.
I was already suffering from mental pressure because of seeing all the torture on daily bases. It wasn’t easy or I think I was not capable for Pakistan Army. I wasn’t an officer but only a soldier who was seeing all the torture daily live.
“Saqib, where are you lost?” Suddenly an officer asked me.
“Nowhere sir, I just finished my work and waiting for you to come and allow me to go.” I replied him.
“Yes, it’s late. You should go now but wait a bit, first go and give this plate of rice to the man at the last cell in the row right to you, and then leave.” Said the officer to me.
“Which one sir?” I asked.
”The last one man, I think the cell number is 309.” Said the officer to me.
I was still watching the officer suspiciously.
“The boy, I don’t remember his name but the one who is here for last nine years.” The officer tried to remind me.
While going to the last cell, I was thinking about the man who was detained here for nine years. Nine years is not only a number but an age.
“Open the door.” I asked the guard standing outside the cell.
A boy with long hair and beard was sitting in front of me.
He was too weak. He was young but seemed as an old man superficially.
“Your food.” I told him while throwing the plate near to him.
He said nothing in respond. He was sitting like a statue.
I stood in that cell for 10 minutes just to see him respond anything, but he didn’t. He was silent at all.
I came out from the cell and took a deep breath.
I was fighting with myself, but couldn’t say anything. No one can understand that what was happening inside me.
This was normal for all people because detention of Baloch and torturing him is going from decades but I could not bear this. I feel very much pain when I see these teen aged children in detentions.
But “this is war, war for dominancy for us or may be identity for them.” Whatever the war for is but I am tired. I sighed
The days were going the same; the same torture, the same screams but of different voices. But a different thing happened to me few days later.
One night, a Land Cruiser car stopped in front of my door. I live in an army compound where only the army personnel and the governmental people were allowed to come.
I was thinking, who it would be. I saw a minister coming out of the car.
“Was a teenage boy brought in your cell about few days ago?” The minister from Balochistan Assembly asked me.
“I don’t know.” I replied.
Privacy is important in army.
“Listen Saqib! I know that you know all the things. The family of the detainee is very much pressurizing me; they are observing hunger strike outside the Press Club.
His sister is doing her best for safe release of her brother. I can’t ask any other army man about this, because we are not allowed to ask them, but you’re a good man, you tell me please.” The minister requested to me.
But I was silent.
“Saqib, is the teenage boy in your torture cell?” The minister questioned again.
“If I answer you what will you do about that? Or what can you do?” I asked the minister.
“I can’t do anything in front of the army.” The minister replied helplessly.
“But I can satisfy the family so that they would shut their mouth. I am facing media pressure a lot.” The minister said this moodily.
“Yes, he was brought to our cell.” I told the minister.
The words of minister were circulating in my mind. On next morning, I did not go to the cell but to the press club.
When I reached at the press club, I saw a young girl observing hunger strike. A girl sitting at the right hand of the hunger striking girl was saying that she strives for the safe recovery of her brother, and the girl sitting beside her left hand was weeping for her missing brother.
Beside that girl, one other girl was sitting, she was very much worried, and her eyes were telling all the story.
I went to the hunger strike camp as a journalist.
“Tell me that for how many days will you sit here?” I asked the woman sitting in camp; probably she was a sister of a missing person.
“Till the day our loved ones are released or brought to the court.” She replied.
“What is your name?” I asked the woman sitting beside the sister of the missing teenage.
She did not say anything.
“What is your name?” I asked again.
“She does not speak.” One of the girls sitting beside her replied me.
“”But why?” I asked.
“Her name is Ganjal, her husband had been abducted by the Pakistan army from Balochistan in 2013. She was living with the pain of disappearance of her husband and suffering from anxiety, but her pain increased multifold when her beloved cousin, Shabir Baloch, was also abducted by the Pakistani Army in 2016. Since that day she is silent, queered and unhealthy.” One of the girls sitting in camp told me.
I felt clemency very much.
I came back to home and continuously thinking about that woman Ganjal. Few days later, I saw news on Twitter by the so-called Baloch freedom activists that Bibi Ganjal Baloch, wife of Safar Khan, died of mental pressure caused because of waiting for her husband and her brother like cousin, Shabir Baloch.