Sectarian Divide in Balochistan and Complacency of the international Community
According to a 2018 report by Pakistan’s Commission for Human Rights 509 Hazaras have been killed in incidents of sectarian violence since 2012.
The recent killing of 11 coal miners of the Shia Hazara community by ISIS militants sharply brings out the sectarian angle to the violence.
According to a 2018 report by Pakistan’s Commission for Human Rights 509 Hazaras have been killed in incidents of sectarian violence since 2012. While it is true that the Hazara community as an ethnic minority faces persecution in Balochistan; the role of state agencies using terror groups like LeJ as strategic assets to fuel unrest in Balochistan cannot be ignored.
Pakistani military tries to appease the Pashtun mullahs in the eastern part of the province, playing the age-old divide and rule game in order to retain the edge. The Pakistan Army has shrewdly allied with groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) to counter the secular Baloch insurgency, in line with a Sunni Islamist narrative. Baloch nationalism which was markedly secular in character, almost never invoking Islam in its rhetoric has begun to witness high levels of sectarian violence.
Further the fabrication campaigns run by Pak intelligence agencies for decades had led to the current state of unawareness that marks the international community’s position on Baloch affairs. What’s disturbing is the silence and in certain instances the ‘sympathy’ that is extended to the Pakistani authorities for its perceived struggles with Baloch insurgency. In 2016 Karima’s asylum claim was put on hold by the Canada Border Services Agency pending the outcome of an inadmissibility hearing by a refugee board tribunal in early 2017 on the grounds that she had engaged in “subversive” acts against “democratic Pakistan.” This was peculiar because although banned by Islamabad the BSO it is not among the terrorist entities listed by the Canadian government.
Progressive teachers, poets, leaders have all been targeted. Prof. Saba Dasthyari gunned down in 2011; Sabeen Mahmud killed in 2016 BNM leaders Gulam Mohammed Baloch and Lala Munir alongwith BRP leader Sher Muhammad Baloch abducted and killed in 2009, later their families met a grisly fate with Gulam Mohammed’s family burned alive – are just a few examples of the fate that awaits Baloch activists. Within Balochistan looting, torching, shootings, enforced disappearances have commonplace, but lately the instances of suspicious deaths of Baloch activists in exile has also become a regular occurrence. That even those who have chosen the path of peaceful struggle are eliminated in such clandestine fashion, demonstrates the paranoia of the Pakistani security agencies regarding the dispersion of Baloch nationalism.
Unless the international community begins condemning Pakistani-state sponsored killings of Baloch activists, who are termed as terrorists or agents of international intelligence organisations, this unabashed loss of young lives will continue with impunity. Canada should be mindful that a credible investigation into the suspicious death of Karima would be a reflection of the integrity of its law enforcement agencies.
An improper closure of the case surrounding the circumstances of her death, ironically provides further evidence of the perils surrounding Baloch activists, something that Karima had been fighting for throughout her young life. Being committed to the cause of human rights for Balochi people was a to knowingly walk into a deathtrap. In her last tweet on December 14, 2020 days before her disappearance she had shared a news report by The Guardian titled ‘Kidnap, torture, murder: the plight of Pakistan’s thousands of disappeared’. Her dastardly assassination thus itself becomes a powerful symbol of Karima’s contentions. The wanton destruction of the human potential by targeting of young brave souls like Karima is perhaps the saddest aspect in the silencing of Baloch voices.
By Vaishali Basu Sharma