It is irony that despite being home to abundant natural resources — such as coal, copper and gold — Balochistan lags behind other provinces of Pakistan. A democratic state bonds different sections of the society to stay united. But Pakistan lacks such a bond. There is a growing disparity between the provinces regarding political stability, education, security, infrastructure, provincial and territorial human rights.
Balochistan has been embattling with political and economic crisis since absorption into Pakistan in March 1948. Due to the discriminatory state policies, the Baloch have resorted to extremism and have armed themselves against the state machinery, as they did in 1958, in a bid to reclaim their identity and rights after being unheard by the civil and military administrations. The Baloch view their fight as one against repression and for self-determination.
Educational institutions are major military hubs in Balochistan. Since the state deployed the FC in universities, the line between educational institution and military barracks has been blurred. The state-installed military personnel in educational institutions, like the University of Balochistan, are a threat to students’ cognitive learning.
Enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings are adding fuel to the human rights crisis in the province. The oppression of students in Balochistan usually impact Baloch student activities at other intuitions, such as the Karachi University.
History is evident that rights are granted to the Baloch only after hunger strikes or road blockages for many days. Protests, such as teachers demanding salary hikes, student resisting administrative injustices or families demanding the return of missing persons, are tackled with torture and manhandling.
The aggrieved Baloch community leaders should be calmed down and persuaded to adopt a democratic route to address issues faced by their people. The contagious conundrum of hate, disgust and killings must end.
Education in Balochistan is in shambles because of poor infrastructure, absence of teachers, and lack of separate schools for girls. The state has failed to provide free and compulsory education to all children between ages five and sixteen under article 25-A of the constitution of Pakistan. According to All Pakistan Labour Federation President Sultan Muhammad, over 15,000 underage children in Balochistan are working at the construction sites, coalmines, garbage collection, and automobiles workshops. They are either orphans or belong to poor families.
The people of Balochistan have been victims of genocide. The gruesomeness of suicide bomb attack in August 2016 that killed at least 80 people at a hospital in Quetta is still fresh in people’s minds. Leaders have been brutally killed for upholding democratic values. Usman Kakar aka Usman Lala was killed in cold-blood inside his home in Quetta. Rights activist Karima Baloch, though living in exile, fought against the state machine and a patriarchal system that supresses the woman’s free will and movement. She died in Toronto, Canada.
Disaster management is yet another neglected subject in Balochistan. The latest rains have reportedly killed 64 and injured 49. Hundreds have been left homeless.
Political engineering by the state and unrestrained intervention by the military, lack of civilian supremacy, depoliticisation of youth and precluding them from entering and participating in political spheres are some of the major consequences of systemic instability in the province.
Balochistan needs a holistic strategy. As a first step, the aggrieved Baloch community leaders should be calmed down and persuaded to adopt a democratic route to address issues faced by their people. The contagious conundrum of hate, disgust and killings must end.