A man who press reports said survived Pakistan's military Gestapo, has accused the soldiers of the South Asian nation of forcing tribal women from Baluchistan into sex slavery.
Munir Mengal, 32, chief executive officer of an aborted Pakistani television channel, in an interview with this scribe said his planned channel, called Baloch Voice, would have aired programs in his native Baluchi language about issues confronting Baluchistan.
Mengal is from Baluchistan, a Texas-sized stateless region in southwest Asia that is divided among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.
Mengal, now living in Paris-- thanks to the Reporters San Frontieres-- was by profession a chartered accountant and living a comfortable life but decided to launch the television to give the Baluch a voice three years ago when he saw Baluch women sitting outside the Karachi Press Club on a hunger strike for many days, but the mainstream Pakistani media was not giving them any attention.
The women were family members of Dr. Hanif Sharif, who was abducted by the intelligence agencies from Turbat in Baluchistan. Little, did Mengal know he would land in the same mess like Sharif and "disappear."
As many as 900 Baluch activists are still missing in Baluchistan though a civilian government was put in place in Pakistan early last year.
Mengal was abducted by Pakistan's Military Intelligence from Karachi airport some months later on his arrival from Bahrain in April 2006.
The RSF said, "Mengal was arrested, physically and psychologically tortured, humiliated and robbed by members of the security forces, above all Military Intelligence. If Pakistan wants to put an end to such illegal and barbaric practices, justice must be done in this case, which has been the subject of a great deal of comment by the media and by leading figures in Pakistan and abroad."
Other than physical torture, the mental torture faced was that he was forced to have sex with a kidnapped women from the Marri tribe. The Marris are one of the most militant tribes in Baluchistan and their tribal territory is believed to be rich in gas and oil. The tribe has been in the forefront of resistance against Pakistani rule in Baluchistan.
Mengal was in a military torture cell in the military cantonment in Karachi for than nine months after his abduction, while his family kept on looking for him. "Sometimes the army officers would call my mother late in the night and tell her your son's body has been found at such and such place in such and such city," Mengal said. The mother would travel hundreds of miles to look for her son, but in vain.
Mengal says he can't forget one of the worst moments nine months after his abduction by the Military Intelligence. “On 27th January, 2007 at 6 p.m. Major Iqrar Gul Niazi [Military Intelligence] called me in his office and showed me some nude pictures. And laughingly told me that you have been a director of a TV channel so certainly you have good relations with actresses.”
When he returned to his cell he found porn pictures strewn all over. Around 12 pm a low-ranking military officer, called subedar, brought a female there who was trembling and weeping in muffled voices. “He threw her on my body and told me 'You know what to do with her. You are not a child that we have tell you what to do with her.'”
He said after half an hour the officer returned, and seeing them sitting apart, abused them and forcibly took off their clothes. Mengal said he was stunned when the woman began praying in the Baluchi language. She told Mengal her name is Zarina Marri and that she belongs to the Kohlu area, headquarters of the rebel Marri tribe, and scene of a bloody insurgency since 2005.
She said she was a school teacher and that the army personnel had abducted her along with her one year old.“They accuse us for spying for the Baluchistan Liberation Army,” Zarina Marri said.
In tribal Baluchistan even being forced into prostitution is considrered a taboo as it brings shame on the family. She begged Mengal to kill her. “I have been undressed several times for them.”
Mengal said on his refusal to have sex, the intelligence officials inflicted cuts on his private parts. "I thought I would lose my manhood," he said.The RSF said it was appaled at Mengal's torture. "Munir Mengal's shocking and damning account should prompt Pakistan's civilian authorities to open an immediate investigation into the case," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is inconceivable that those responsible for this political abduction should be allowed to go unpunished."
In a report last year, the U.S. State Department had cited the abduction of Mengal at the hands of Pakistan's secret services. The Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) say local people in Baluchistan are anguished and demand a greater share of the revenue generated by their resource rich province.
According to Refworld, mouthpiece of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, many Baluch civilians have been arrested and held incommunicado or summarily executed by the Pakistani security forces as part of their efforts to combat Baluchi separatism.
There have been five guerila uprisings in Baluchistan since the territory was annexed by Pakistan on March 27, 1948—seven months after the British left the Indian subcontinent divided in August 1947.
Majority of Baluch want Baluchistan to return to its original status as it existed in Marh 1948.
The latest uprising is still continuing after the Baluch resistance groups ended their unilateral ceasfire recently. In spite of documented proof of Pakistan army atrocities in Baluchistan, the British authorities declared the Baluchistan Liberation Army a terrorist outfit in August 2006.
Two Baluch activists, Hairbyair Marri and Fazi Baluch, are facing a terror trial in a court in London on a charge of organizing the resistance. Baluch's lawyer Helena Kennedy recently told a jury calling the two terrorists would be akin to calling those who fought against Nazis during World War Two as terrorists.Out of harms way, Mengal is now crusading for Baluch rights from Paris.