Families from Baluchistan, Pakistan, march in search for missing relatives
Relatives of people who have disappeared in Baluchistan turmoil set off on 1,200km trek
Relatives of people who have gone missing from Pakistan's troubled southwestern Baluchistan province set off on a gruelling 1200-kilometre march from the port city of Karachi to Islamabad yesterday, hoping to recover their loved ones.
The more than two dozen men, women and children had camped in the commercial hub for nearly three weeks after walking 700 kilometres from Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, where a violent insurgency against the Pakistani state has raged since 2004.
The latest leg of their journey stretches nearly 1,200 kilometres from Karachi, which lies on the Arabian Sea, to the capital city in the foothills of the Himalayas.
They hope to gain public support and pressure the government into freeing relatives who have disappeared, allegedly at the hands of Pakistan's security services.
"Our main objective is to secure release of our loved ones but unfortunately we have not received any help from the government so far," said Muhammad Qadir Baloch, leader of the march.
Baloch, 70, who also heads a non-governmental organisation, Voice of Missing Baluch Persons, said: "Our next destination is Islamabad where we will finalise our future course of action."
Tired of waiting for justice - or even news of the fate of their brothers, sons, and husbands - the men and women undertook the unprecedented march.
Baluchistan, the size of Italy and rich in copper, gold and natural gas, is Pakistan's largest but least populous province.
It is also the least developed, which has exacerbated a long-running ethnic Baluch separatist movement that wants more autonomy and a greater share of its mineral wealth.