In a chilling testimony, Khan Muhammad Shahwani, a resident of Balochistan and survivor of the infamous Kill and Dump policy, shares his harrowing experience at the hands of Pakistani forces. Abducted from his home, Khan faced relentless physical and mental torture, becoming a victim of the brutal tactics employed against Baloch activists. This interview, conducted by Paank Media Team, unveils the disturbing events leading to his survival against an attempted extrajudicial killing.
Khan’s ordeal began with his involvement in the Baloch National Movement, advocating for human rights and addressing the injustices faced by the people of Balochistan. As the zonal organizer for Kalat, he spearheaded efforts to raise awareness through rallies, protests, and demonstrations. However, his activism marked him as a target, resulting in raids, abductions, and severe intimidation by the Pakistani military.
The narrative takes a dark turn as Khan describes the six days of relentless torture in military facilities, marked by physical abuse, denial of basic amenities, and psychological torment. Forced to endure inhumane conditions, he narrates the deterioration of his mental and physical health, with the military’s aggressive tactics leaving him paralyzed and mentally distressed.
As the interview unfolds, Khan recounts the shocking attempt on his life during a secretive transfer to Seestan Balochistan. Blindfolded and confined to oil drums in a military vehicle, Khan, along with two fellow victims, faced an unimaginable fate. Miraculously surviving the orchestrated shooting, Khan sheds light on the tragic demise of his companions, Asadullah and Ghulam Qadir.
Background and Activism
Khan initially joined BSO Azad during his elementary education in Kalat city and later became a member of the Baloch National Movement (BNM). As the zonal organizer for Kalat, He actively participated in raising awareness about the injustices in Balochistan, including arrests, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and violence by Pakistani forces.
Crackdown in Kalat
The Pakistani military launched a crackdown in Kalat, resulting in the extrajudicial execution of Khan’s colleagues and raids on his home in Karachi. Fearing for his safety, He returned to his village in Harboi, only to face further intimidation and threats. Subsequently, He moved to Zehri, where He was accosted by a local death squad supported by the Pakistan Army.
Unlawful Detention and Torture
He was abducted by the local levies force on 17 June 2019, taken to Zehri police station, and later handed over to the Pakistan Army and ISI. Throughout the journey to Khuzdar, He endured physical torture, deprivation of food, denial of basic amenities, and mental anguish. The interrogation focused on the Baloch National Movement, and the aggression escalated into extreme cruelty with the use of tools like iron rods, lashes, and rifle butts.
Mental and Physical Deterioration
For six days and nights, he endured relentless abuse, with sleep deprivation and limited access to food. The provided meals were inadequate and sometimes contained harmful substances. The torture led to severe mental health deterioration, physical injuries, and one of his feet being paralyzed due to prolonged hanging from a rope.
Extended Detention and Continued Torture
Despite a 14-day remand, the torture persisted, and he spent 25 months in Khuzdar’s military jails. The military continually threatened him and tormented his mental state. The interrogations were accompanied by brutal physical torture, and his health deteriorated further due to lack of medical attention and insufficient food.
Transfers and Further Torture
Transferred to Awaran, Hub Chowki, and Mand, he faced the same brutal conditions – filthy clothes, unrelenting suffering, and torment. Daily screams of fellow victims echoed through the facilities. In Mand, he encountered others who had been forcibly disappeared, and they endured shared torment.
Attempted execution and Survival
His transfer to Seestan Balochistan, Iran, marked a turning point on 6th December 2021. Three of them were subjected to an attempted murder. Blindfolded and confined in oil drums, they were shot multiple times. He survived, but the other two victims, Asadullah and Ghulam Qadir, succumbed to their injuries.
Khan Muhammad’s detailed testimony in his words
My name is Khan Muhammad Shahwani, son of Jummah Khan Shahwani residing in a small village in district Kalat in Balochistan. For my elementary education, we moved to Kalat city where I joined BSO Azad while I was still a student in Kalat Model High School. After completing my studies, I joined the Baloch National Movement and was appointed as the zonal organizer for Kalat. In response to our party’s central committees, we completed the tasks of mass mobilize, to raise awareness about the injustices in Balochistan, including arrests, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and targeted violence by Pakistani forces. To educate our people about Balochistan, its history, and the current situation, we held rallies, protests, demonstrations, and employ several other strategies.
In Kalat, the Pakistani military launched a crackdown against us, leading to the extrajudicial execution of some of my colleagues and their forced abduction. Due to the fact that I was the Baloch National Movement’s organizer in Kalat, the forces also conducted four raids on my home in Karachi. After these raids, I made the decision to return to Kalat, where another raid took place on my home.
The military began intimidating the residents of my town. There were also incidents of the Pakistani law enforcement personnel targeting and killing innocent residents while their village was under siege. The military persisted in pressuring my neighbors to provide my whereabouts or any other information pertaining to me. I had to move back to my village in Harboi after being intimidated and threatened in Kalat, but there too I was unsafe. Subsequently, I moved to Zehri, a few hundred kilometers away from Kalat.
A few days after relocating to Zehri, I visited the local market to purchase groceries. To my dismay, I was accosted by two heavily armed individuals affiliated with a local death squad supported by the Pakistan Army. They aimed their rifles at me, forcibly took my cellphone from my pocket, and left me traumatized. Confused and distressed, I inquired, “Why are you taking my phone?” One of them ominously replied, “We have some matters to settle with you.”
Soon after, the local levies force arrived and arrested me. I was subsequently taken to the Zehri police station, where my hands were tied, and a blindfold was placed over my eyes. Around midnight, personnel from the Pakistan Army and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s most powerful intelligence agency) appeared at the police station, took me into custody, and transported me to Khuzdar. Throughout the journey, I endured physical torture, handcuffed, blindfolded, and subjected to mental anguish as they forced me and confined me in the vehicle’s trunk. Their used techniques were reminiscent of the techniques used by the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh as we know it today) during their persecution of innocent individuals across the Levant.
Upon arrival in Khuzdar, all my belongings, including my motorcycle, were confiscated, and I was transferred to a military torture facility.
There they began an investigation. They began interrogating me about the Baloch National Movement (BNM). I pleaded with them, telling them I was a member of a nonviolent political party that was struggling for human rights as well as the welfare of our poor and oppressed people. I was a political activist, and whatever I did, I did it in accordance with this country’s constitution. My party is a democratic, revolutionary, and nonviolent party and therefore adhere to it and act upon of its calls, and begged them to stop treating me like a criminal.
Their aggression intensified, and they resorted to cruelty, employing various tools such as iron rods, lashes, and rifle butts in their acts of torture. They employed a military personnel whose sole responsibility was to ensure that I do not fall asleep. Deprived of food for six consecutive days, I endured relentless abuse day and night. They also denied me access to basic amenities, including the use of the toilet. Confined in cramped, lightless torture chambers, I yearned for the sound of the wind and basic necessities like light, food, and water. However, the only audible presence was that of Pakistani military personnel walking by and hurling curses at us. This ordeal persisted for a grueling six days and nights before they finally provided me with a stale meal.
Although the meal was terribly bland, I do not know what was in it, my six days of hunger drove me to reluctantly consume it. As a tea enthusiast, I repeatedly screamed for tea. A few times I was offered some tea but in most cases they would give me tea cut glass Coca-Cola bottles with jagged edges that due to which my lips were bruised. The same restrictive rules applied to drinking water. For six months, they denied me sufficient sleep by stationing a military personnel at my head, tasked with waking me whenever I began to doze off.
The food they provided was limited to inedible Daal, offered only once a day. Nothing else. Interrogations about the BNM persisted frequently, which was accompanied by extreme torture aimed at extracting information about freedom fighters, despite my professed ignorance. In response to their dissatisfaction with my answers to their questions, I was placed on remand for 14 days, and the anguish I experienced during that period is beyond description.
My mental health was deteriorating rapidly due to relentless torture, both physical and mental. I was covered in my own blood as iron rods were ruthlessly used to torture me on my feet and back. The brutality resulted in one of my feet being paralyzed, a consequence of prolonged hanging from a rope while chained to a chair. This horrific torture was not only for to me; many other Baloch activists endured similar agonies. The cries of pain from fellow victims undergoing torture were both terrifying and mentally distressing. Every day, three to four individuals were brought in to face this brutality, with the majority being Baloch political activists. Three to four human beings brought to this hell I would think while their families also suffered seeing their loved ones forcefully abducted.
We kept asking them to take us to the doctor, but they would swear at us and say, “We haven’t brought you here to serve you.” During this time, I struggled with mental illness, and because of the torture, edible food, substance mixing in the meal, and torture, my health condition deteriorated. Due to lack of food, as there was absolutely no bread available for me, I became extremely sick and frail. Other victims encountered a similar situation; they continued to ask for medical attention but were turned down.
My 14-day remand had already passed, but they still tortured me. They kept tormenting me to make sure I was always tensed, depressed, and stressed out so they could threaten me. They threatened to take me to Islamabad, and not let me die, and make this torture a regular part of my life if I did not cooperate with them. They used to threaten me by saying that they would abduct my wife, children, and other family members and do the same to them. “Imagine if we killed your wife and children. What will you do?” they asked. I will never forget these events, and I will never be able to live in peace because of the pain and suffering they caused me. These were the worst things that have ever happened to me in my life.
After all of this, I spent 25 months in Khuzdar’s military jails. We were never told our exact location, but thanks to our knowledge of Balochistan’s varied weather patterns and my prior experience, we were able to identify the location as Khuzdar thanks to the city’s chilly climate. Then they drove me to Awaran, but prior to that they tied our hands behind our backs so tightly that the pain spread throughout our entire bodies. They also used to blindfold us and cover us with a blanket before throwing us into the trunk of their military vehicle and driving us to Awaran late at night in secret. Being tied up and dumped in the trunk made induced panic attacks as I was claustrophobic.
After a brief period in the Awaran military camp, they transferred me to the Hub Chowki, where I endured the same brutal torture. Each day, numerous individuals were brought to this location, and their agonizing screams echoed through the facility. The conditions were deplorable – the same disgusting food, unrelenting suffering, and torment persisted. The floors were filled with defecations of rats and other rodents and we were forced to sleep in that. We had no pillows, or blankets, and we were compelled to sleep on the floor amidst darkness and filth. The only source of interaction was a tiny opening through which they delivered our meals while cursing at us from behind the door. The constant stress and depression became an overwhelming part of my daily existence.
After a few days, they transferred me to Mand in Balochistan, subjecting me to the same relentless torture and suffering. During this time, I was denied clean clothes, forced to wear the same filthy garments for months without washing. The stench from my unwashed hair became unbearable. I used to beg them to let me wash up but they would instead beat me for asking them for a wash.
In Mand, I encountered Zahoor, another individual who had been forcibly disappeared, and both of us endured daily torment. On a particular day, they took me out alongside Ghulam Qadir, the son of Abdullah from Kalat, and Asadullah, the son of Master Nasir from Mand. Yasir, Asad’s brother, had been abducted in 2010 and killed in 2011 by Pakistani forces. When they brought us out, a military vehicle, accompanied by military personnel and local death squad members, awaited us in the afternoon. An officer directed the military personnel to bring us close to the vehicles, providing pieces of cloth to cover our eyes. I explained that, given my tied hands, I couldn’t cover my eyes on my own. They blindfolded us tightly, leaving us in complete darkness for months. Since our clothing was already filthy, a staff member reached into my pocket and slipped something inside.
They then placed us in the trunk of their car, brought oil drums, and instructed us to contort our bodies to fit inside. They pressed the drums against us, attempting to force us into the tight spaces. I protested about the discomfort, but they persisted, making us stand inside the drums. As they transported us, I began to realize that something unusual was happening, and the fear intensified as we hadn’t heard from the military for about 20 minutes.
In the drums, I struggled to breathe, and the two victims following me faced the same ordeal. Anxious, I shouted about the tight restraints, discomfort, and begged mercy, only to be met with blows. Ghulam Qadir, sensing the severity of the situation, started saying, “To hell with them, leave them.” Asad, confused and in the dark, stated, “There is nobody here; they’ve left us alone; I have no idea what is going on.”
After approximately 30 minutes, a few people arrived, started the car, and, surprisingly, there weren’t many of them—unlike previous movements where there would be 10 to 20 vehicles. One of us remarked on the peculiar situation, and I responded with a prayer for mercy. The warmth inside those drums became unbearable, and Asad, already unwell, began vomiting and pleading for release”Take me out! I’m going to die! At least release my hands!”. No one came to help.
After a three to four-hour drive, the vehicle stopped in Seestan Balochistan, an Iranian province, in the evening. They pulled me out at first, then pushed me aside, causing me to fall to the ground. I then heard them bring another one of us, to which he yelled, “What are you doing?” They responded, “Wait, you’ll find out,” and I believe they were between two and three people. Asadullah was taken out. They were constantly cursing at us, and the three of us were then lined up; the location was in a mountainous area with virtually no sounds and no human beings.
After a short while, they began shooting at us. I was hit by six bullets in total, one in the face, one in the shoulder, one in the leg, and three in the belly. Then, one by one, they shoot the other two. When they heard the sound of a car, they fled out of fear and returned shortly after to remove any evidence that would point toward Pakistan. They freed our hands, took off the covers over our eyes, and the Pakistani shoes I was wearing, and then began shaking each of us to see if we were still alive. After 15 to 20 minutes, they believed we were all dead and returned to their car to leave. I was hit by numerous gunshots when I woke up, and I could see the bullet shells on the ground. Asad and Qadir caught my attention; they were both heavily bleeding. I tried to speak to them, but they remained silent. They were still alive at the time, but in a very severe state, and they were only making sounds. I sat there, bleeding heavily and with no sign of human life in the area. I took some sand and filled the wounds in an effort to stop the bleeding. We were close to a mud road, so I waited all night for someone to see us. Early the next morning, some vehicles showed up. When they discovered us in this state, they rushed me to a local hospital; regrettably, Asad and Qadir had already passed away.
Even though I survived the attempted murder, I continued to struggle with the same ailments. They tried to extort me by showing me my own pictures of the activities of my group during the interrogation. They once used to display the pictures of strangers to me. They used to ask me about them, and when I responded that I didn’t know them, they questioned “why? They are your leaders.” Since I had never met them, I kept claiming not to know them. They questioned why you don’t know them since they are from Balochistan. I responded that I don’t know the entire Balochistani population and that I am a member of a political group that has no affiliation with them. I stated that I am not the person you are looking for and that my activities are not hidden. I previously worked for BNM as the organizer of my region. Any remarks or actions I took in support of human rights in Balochistan were based on the fact that I was opposing the forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and raids on people’s homes.
The locals who found Khan Muhammad recorded the following video.
Note: Some viewers may find this video distrubing.