he gruesome suspicious death of Baloch activist Karima Baloch in Toronto, Canada on December 20, 2020, is now causing growing protests all over Balochistan, in Canada, the US and even in Bangladesh. Her death refocuses light on the death of another Baloch activist Sajid Hussain in Sweden in May 2020 and life threats against the journalist Taha Siddiqui and Ahmed Waqas Goraya.
Notably, Balochs who seek refuge in the West after having escaped persecution and threats from the Pakistani security agencies, expose the gross violations of human rights in Balochistan and thereafter get killed in the country and now even abroad……
The moot question is how has Pak agencies managed to get away with such murderous activities, that too in the Western countries? The answer lies in the culture of impunity that has developed and even nurtured in Pakistan over the decades. If not earlier, it certainly began after the 1971 Indo-Pak war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. 195 Pakistani officers and soldiers had been identified as ‘war criminals’ for their role in the genocide carried out in the then East Pakistan. However, as a result of the ‘Delhi Agreement’ signed between India, Bangladesh and Pakistan these men and the 93,000 other POWs were repatriated to Pakistan. Whatever may have been the larger motives and objectives of the agreement, the one lesson that Pakistan and especially the army drew was that they could indulge in the most heinous of crimes, massacre millions of civilians and rape hundreds of thousands of women, but they would not be held accountable. Reinforcing this was the fact that many of the 195 war criminals prospered on return, including making it to high positions in politics and the armed forces.
As a result, the egregious violations of human rights have been well documented. The dehumanising nature of the violence is evidenced not just in the ways people are tortured — with holes drilled in the head and bodies mutilated beyond recognition — but also in the way their bodies are discarded. One note accompanying a decomposed corpse said, “Eid gift for the Baloch”. The similarity with the threat that Karima Baloch received is indeed chilling. One such threat warned her that someone would send her a “Christmas gift” and “teach her a lesson”. Given what the Pakistan army has been able to get away within the country, one view is that it has now decided to expand its operations abroad. Sajid Hussain’s suspicious death was perhaps to test the waters to judge the international reaction. The silence of the investigating agencies in Sweden obviously emboldened Pakistan and so Karima Baloch became the second victim.
If the EU, as a bastion of safety, fails in its primary responsibility of bringing to book the perpetrators of these crimes, it will only encourage Pakistan to carry out even more attacks on its dissidents based abroad. If Karima Baloch and Sajid Hussain’s killings are not in vain then the world needs to recognise what Pakistan has been doing in Balochistan for decades and how it has been flagrantly killing Baloch youth.