The Baloch protesters took a discouraging message from Islamabad’s brutishness against peaceful marchers
By Ali Jan Maqsood
Islamabad’s brutishness against peaceful Baloch marchers resembled the capital’s approach towards Balochistan from Day One. Where peaceful protests are deemed a right of every citizen under the banner of human rights across the globe, including Pakistan, Baloch have always had to face resistance for the peaceful exercise of that right. If not a colony, what can we term Balochistan?The Baloch are less likely to travel back to the Pakistani capital city for the attainment of their rights and recording their voices.
What shocks an ordinary and prudent person, excluding Baloch, is sending a committee of ministers for negotiations on one hand, while denying their legal status as equal citizens, on the other. If not hypocrisy, what does one’s dictionary term it? The state has been very unfair towards the Baloch, but consistently asking the Baloch to be fair to them. One cannot clap with only one hand.
In the Baloch case, the state institutions – including Islamabad police and its masters – have no regard for the superior courts either. When the Islamabad High Court issued orders of releasing the arrested Baloch marchers, including women, children and old-ages, the IGP Islamabad, on record, said they were being released. The very same night, the Islamabad Police’s official Twitter Account handler tweeted that they were released, on which a committee of federal ministers also held a media conference claiming the same. But it was fake. They were not released then. In fact, they were being pushed inside buses for deportation to Quetta.
Lies in court
As a prominent journalist commented, “With this deportation, the state is sending a message to Balochistan that they are a different country.”
When summoned back in the IHC, with witnesses including the journalist, the IG had to release the given persons the other day – that too very late in the night. But what amazes even more is, the IGP told lies to the superior court, and so did the federal ministers in the conference, but there was no punishment or strict accountability for any of them. Seems like they have an extra bit of privilege owing to their identity. Or perhaps the courts are hapless. If the courts are hapless, why should Baloch protesters demand to produce their loved ones before the courts? Balach was also produced before a court in Turbat, but was killed in a fake encounter later on. How can one believe in courts now?
However, such behaviour is less shocking for Balochistan as these are common things which happen in the Baloch areas routinely. But what has led the world – and the Pakistanis – to close their eyes over all this? Apart from very few, the majority have still closed their eyes towards the Baloch grievances. Let all the rest that happen back in Balochistan, what actually happened in Islamabad only, they have turned a blind eye towards that as well. When they have no reason to own Balochistan, what pushes the Baloch to do so?
A war zone
Balochistan, on the other hand, had a belief – somehow – that Islamabad was the city where they could be directly listened to. But after how the city has responded towards the Baloch, they are less likely to travel back to the Pakistani capital for the attainment of their rights and recording their voices. But still you will find several people from the country asking: “What is the problem of the Baloch?”
Each time the Baloch get to face this question. But never do they get an answer. Or perhaps posing the question is what is asked only. When unheard peacefully, they, more likely the youth, choose other ways to record their protests. When that is done, the state machinery will have no right to even question the youth joining the militancy. Because it is the state which is reluctant to negotiate when they are peaceful. Using water-cannons in the freezing weather, tear gas, and arresting with baton-charges are what Baloch have been facing in the country for a long time. They are not new, neither successful, attempts to break the Baloch courage, but they contribute to further strengthen the Baloch resistance.
No doubt, Balochistan is presently a war zone. A war between state institutions and “Baloch militants” is underway on power and control of the region. Amidst the war, state institutions are involved in fuelling enforced disappearances of the Baloch, particularly the students. They are then labelled with charges of ‘terrorism’ and are never produced in a court of law. They are sometimes killed extra-judicially as is the recent case of Balach Mola Bakhsh, first abducted for years, as is the case with Zakir Majeed, Dr Deen Mobammad Baloch, Zahid Kurd Baloch, Shabbir Baloch, Asad Baloch and several other Baloch. Apart from stimulating the insurgency and building a sense of hatred for the state, enforced disappearances and killings in fake encounters have contributed no better.
This piece first appeared in PakistanToday