PM Kakar misrepresents UN committee’s statistic on enforced disappearances in Balochistan
The caretaker PM claimed that the total number of missing persons in the province stands at 50
Claim: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said that according to the United Nations’ Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), there are approximately 50 cases of enforced disappearances in Balochistan.
Fact: Kakar’s statement is misleading; the WGEID’s recent report cited 1,635 enforced disappearances in Pakistan but did not specify Balochistan’s figures. In 2016, the WGEID reported over 14,000 missing in Balochistan, while the provincial government acknowledged less than 100. Pakistan’s Commission on Enforced Disappearances noted 2,752 missing in Balochistan since 2011, with 468 cases unresolved—exceeding the prime minister’s mentioned figure.
Fact or Fiction?
On 4 January 2024, X (formerly Twitter) account Balochistan Current Affairs (@BalochistanCur1) posted a video of an interaction between Caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaarul Haq Kakar, and the students of the Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore.
The video shows a student asking the following question from the premier:
“I wanted to take it back to the question of Balochistan. When you talked about Israel, you mentioned the general narrative about Israel that it let’s say destabilises Palestine for like decades upon decades. At that point, there is an attack from Palestine [Gaza strip] and Israel says what did they do, now we will have to destroy their whole country.
In much the same way, Pakistan for decades upon decades takes part in like the disappearances that have taken place in Balochistan. At that point the Baloch people they throw some rocks, Pakistan says we have had to arrest them. With much the same situation showing up on both ends, how is in this particular situation Pakistan using its monopoly of violence in a way that’s better than Israel?”
At the 2:20 mark of the video, Kakar responded to the question, saying that, “I don’t know who told you that we [the state] have been disappearing Baloch people.” He went on to explain that the terms “disappearance” or “enforced disappearance” were used after the “War on Terror” because the issue was less prevalent in Asia before that.
The caretaker PM said that the United Nations (UN) formed an enforced disappearance committee which has its own methodology. For example, if 8000 people in Pakistan are missing, the UN says first you have to prove their existence (وجود) so that you can prove their non-existence (عدم وجود). Adding to this, Kakar said that to identify someone, details such as the names of the parents, siblings and of extended family are needed so that people with the same name can be differentiated.
“As per this method, when the UN’s enforced disappearance committee came to Pakistan in 2009, they said approximately but did not give an exact number. A lot of people say to me he is lying but Google it now and check, they [UN] said it’s [disappeared persons] are around 50 [in Balochistan],” he said.
Since a pattern has not been established behind these disappearances, the UN does not take an interest and it does not come under their radar, Kakar noted. He went on to say their [Baloch missing persons] handlers tell them to keep repeating the 8000 figure so that it reaches the international radar.
This is not the first time Kakar has underreported these numbers. In an interview to BBC Urdu in September, he said that, “There are only 50 cases of enforced disappearances in Balochistan as per the UN’s working group.”
Human Rights Minister Khalil George had also backed the interim PM’s claim in an interview on Dawn News’ programme ‘Doosra Rukh’ aired on 30 October.
Fact or Fiction?
Soch Fact Check found the claim to be misleading. We could not find any report that states that there are only 50 victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan.
The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances informed the Supreme Court on 9 January 2024, that at least 2,752 people went missing in Balochistan since 2011, of which 2,284 missing persons cases have been disposed of by the commission and the remaining cases are 468. Furthermore, the missing persons cases recorded in Punjab are 1,625, 1,787 in Sindh and 3,485 in KP.
The commission, established in 2011, filed a report on the issue during the aforementioned hearing of the enforced disappearances case which shows that Even the number of pending cases of missing persons in Balochistan are more than the figure quoted by the prime minister.
Moreover, according to the latest report of the United Nations’ Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), 1,635 cases of enforced disappearances were transmitted to the Pakistani government between 1980 and May 2023, out of which there are 843 outstanding cases.
The report further states that the Working Group expressed concerns about “recurrent and numerous” allegations of enforced disappearance in Pakistan, “attested to by the high number of cases transmitted during the reporting period.” It also reiterated “its recommendation to the Government of Pakistan to invite the mandate to visit the country, as a follow-up to the visit carried out in September 2012”.
A graph from the report has been reproduced below to highlight the number of cases by year in Pakistan. As is visible, the highest number of cases were reported in 2016, around 333.
The latest report does not specify missing persons in Balochistan but a 2016 report by the WGEID mentioned Balochistan specifically, stating that their sources in the province alleged that more than 14,000 people were still missing there, but the provincial government recognised less than 100.
The UN’s WGEID was established in 1980 to address and investigate cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances worldwide. Its main purpose is to examine and gather information on reported disappearances, get clarification from governments involved, and make recommendations to prevent and eradicate this grave human rights violation. The WGEID operates under the UN Human Rights Council.
The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a non-governmental organisation representing family members of Balochistan’s forcibly disappeared, noted that there are more than 7,000 missing persons from Balochistan in a report published on 12 December 2023.
In an opinion piece for The Guardian published in 2021, activist Sammi Deen Baloch said that more than 5,000 people are missing in Balochistan.
The issue of enforced disappearance was highlighted once again as the Baloch community has been camping outside Islamabad’s National Press Club for weeks to protest against widespread extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the region.
The demonstration follows a 1,600-kilometre march from Turbat led by Dr Mahrang Baloch under the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) banner, which was prompted by the contested death of Turbat’s 24-year-old resident, Balach Baloch allegedly in the custody of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), sparking allegations of extrajudicial murder. The CTD denied the allegations and claimed that Balach was killed during an armed clash between miscreants and security forces on Pasni Road, Turbat.
The tweet by @BalochistanCur1 gained significant traction, with 686,400 views, 1,500 likes and 1,300 reposts, as of writing time.
Conclusion: The United Nation’s publicly available reports and the data shared by Pakistan’s own commission contradicts Kakar’s claim of 50 cases of enforced disappearances reported in Balochistan.
To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org