2,000km walk for ‘missing’ nears end

March 01, 2014 - 5:46:56 am
ISLAMABAD: After 2,000 gruelling kilometres on the road, a band of families led by a 72-year-old marching in protest over missing relatives reached the edge of the Pakistani capital yesterday.

They were relatives of people disappeared in the troubled southwestern province of Baluchistan, allegedly at the hands of the security services.

The marchers, led by a retired banker known as Mama (uncle) Qadir, hope to present a petition to UN officials in Islamabad and meet foreign diplomats to raise awareness of their cause.

“We want to tell (the world) that people are being kidnapped every day in Baluchistan, districts are being bombarded and almost every day we are receiving mutilated bodies,” Qadir said on the road close to Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s twin city.

“We have no more hope in the Pakistani government, which is why we want to talk to international organisations, so they can apply pressure.”

His son Jalil Reki, a member of the Baloch Republican Party, which is suspected of links to the armed insurgency, was found shot dead in 2011 after going missing.

The marchers set out from the Baluchistan capital Quetta last October, walking the first 700km  to Karachi, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, before turning northwards to Islamabad, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Today, they will complete their marathon trek in front of the city’s Press Club.

“We hope to be heard, but if we are not we will evaluate the situation and who knows, maybe we will march to Geneva,” Qadir said.