After years of silence and mystery shrouded around enforced disappearances in Balochistan, some of the estimated 18000 Baloch missing persons are coming back home.

According to reports, Mehran Khyiazai has returned after seven years of his disappearance, Abdul Karim Musazai from Saindak and Haji Ghulam Dastagir Mohammad Hasni from Dalbandin return after three years, Kabir Ahmed and Mohammad Ewaz Killi from Qadirabad Noshki come back after four years, Abdul Samad Langove and Mohammad Ibrahim Kalat, Khalid Naveed from Mashkay arrive after eight months and Khan Mohammad Bugti Kashangi from Noshki returns after six years of disappearance.

It seems things are truly turning around for the best. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) on Wednesday announced it has temporarily ended its protest camp after nearly 10 years of protest against enforced disappearances, set up in front of Quetta Press Club. The VBMP, who have been protesting 3464 days uninterrupted, stalled their protest for two months only due following assurances from the Balochistan government regarding the recovery of their missing relatives. VBMP Chairman Nasarullah Baloch and Vice Chairman Mama Qadeer Baloch handed the provincial government a list of 110 missing persons to recover them within two months.

This difference has been due to activism of the Balochistan government to recover the missing activists. The work of Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and Home Minister Zia Ahmed Langove might have been particularly effective in this regard, as they had previously promised the Baloch people that they would talk to all stakeholders and institutions to guarantee the recovery of missing people. These efforts show that the impact that effective government action can have, as we finally start to see some hopeful signs to this terrible phenomena that has existed for decades in Pakistan’s largest province.

These are still only the first hopeful signs and there is still a long way to go. Chief Justice Asif Khosa’s comments on the problem of missing persons and how these families need to be reunited with their sons and brothers, in his first speech as CJP, indicates that this year will be one with more awareness on the once taboo subject of enforced disappearances. For the leeway that has been made, we have to thank the countless brave civil society and human rights activists who have protested for decades and suffered consequences to bring light to the cases of missing persons.