Author Mohammed Hanif returns Sitara-e-Imtiaz in protest over violence against Baloch marchers

Islamabad’s police baton charge, arrest Baloch long march protesters in Islamabad; rights activist decry treatment

Pakistani author, playwright, and journalist Mohammed Hanif. — Facebook/@mohammed.hanif.3720190
  • Women-led protesters marching against “enforced disappearances”.
  • Marchers subjected to baton charge, mass arrests by ICT police.
  • IHC, human rights watchdogs deplore the use of brute force, arrests.

Author and journalist Mohammed Hanif Saturday announced returning Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third-highest civilian award of Pakistan, back to the state in protest over the violence meted out to Baloch marchers.

Reacting to a video of a Baloch girl pleading with the authorities for the “right to live”, Hanif lambasted the authorities for mistreatment of the Baloch protesters saying he was ashamed to witness a new generation being denied basic dignity.

“In protest, returning my Sitara e Imtiaz, given to me by a state that continues to abduct and torture Baloch citizens. Journalists of my generation have seen @SammiBaluch and @MahrangBaloch_ grow up in protest camps. Ashamed to witness a new generation being denied basic dignity,” Hanif wrote on his X account.

Hanif — a journalist, novelist, and playwright known for his famous work “A Case of Exploding Mangoes” — was honoured with the third-highest civilian award in Pakistan back in 2018.

His remarks come after marchers — led by women — protesting against enforced disappearances of Baloch men, under the banner of Baloch Yakjehti Council (BYC), reached Islamabad on Wednesday, and were subsequently subjected to baton charges and mass arrests by the Islamabad Police.

The crackdown triggered widespread condemnations from human rights bodies and political parties — notably the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) — which was followed by the government’s clarification that the force was used to avoid a “catastrophe”.

This image shows Baloch marchers staging a sit-in in Islamabad on December 20, 2023. — X/@sommulbaloch
This image shows Baloch marchers staging a sit-in in Islamabad on December 20, 2023. — X/@sommulbaloch

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) also warned the federal capital’s police against creating hurdles for the Baloch protesters.

“Let them protest who have come to protest, it’s their constitutional right,” Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said during the hearing of a petition filed by long march organisers Sami Baloch and Abdul Salam.

On Friday, the court ordered the police to hand over the detainees to organisers of the long march.

Meanwhile, the marchers have announced to hold a “peaceful rally” at the Islamabad Press Club at 10am tomorrow (Sunday).

Speaking to the media after attending the protesters’ sit-in outside Islamabad’s press club, PPP’s Farhtaullah Babar backed the marchers’ calls for protection of fundamental human rights.

Terming enforced disappearances as a violation of basic human rights, the PPP senator called for those involved in illegal activities to be presented in the courts.

Meanwhile, JI’s Sentaor Mushtaq condemned the Islamabad police’s actions and called for all the missing persons to be recovered.

A five-member government committee has also been formed to redress the issues of the protesting Baloch marchers, however, they seem to have made no headway thus far.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button