Protests deciding the fate of Balochistan

By: Yasmin Sana

The Baloch nation has been resisting various chagrins since its formation and the list of issues in Baluchistan is not a short page, but amongst those issues, this thing is quite surprising that the Baloch Nation finds demonstration the only ultimatum to take the floor and advocate their individual rights. The protests ensue after any coerce attempt, violation of human rights, disenfranchisement, suppression or exclusion but in Balochistan people come on roads to ask for pure water and electricity. Protests embark revolutionary but end up with baton charges or imprisonment and this presumptuous behavior adds fuel to the fire every time.

Unfortunately, 2021 ended denying the fact that Baluchistan can be a peaceful province and akin other festivals, New Year never meant new for Baloch Nation. They are on roads every single day sometimes in the shape of students protesting against the loopholes of administration and testing services, usually with #reconducttest, #saynotoHEC, #BMC, and #werejectmdcat. #wewantjustice remains the common cliché in every social campaign and sometimes in the shape of mothers protesting for the safe recovery of their children. As a matter of fact, thousands of students move to Quetta for the pursuit of knowledge but as a result, they are flush out from the educational environment either because of patriotism, demonstration or political affiliation. At the end of the day they are left with a daze _either to work on the Iran border or choose any illegal procedure. According to a report, each year approximately 25,000 students graduate and unfortunately 2,000 of them get jobs in Balochistan. Recently, students of Balochistan University are on protest for the safe recovery of two students (Sohail Baloch and Faseeh Baloch) who were disappeared from the university hostel despite the check posts and security. In addition to it, they previously stood against the vice-chancellor of Balochistan University in 2019 and disclosed many harassment cases. Comparatively, thousands of students demonstrated against the online classes and online campaigns were on trend with #werejectonlineclasses, #saynotoonlineclasses during the pandemic in 2020-21. In 2020, Global Partnership Education Teachers called a protest in front of the Quetta Press Club and a multitude of female and male teachers joined. They demonstrated against the false announcement of the Government for their permanent postings but unfortunately, they didn’t receive any official application and were compelled to fight out once for all. Similarly, in 2016, lawyers came on roads after the massive attack on the mob of lawyers who were present there to record their protest against the assassination of Anwer Kasi (President of Balochistan Bar Association) but unfortunately, the attackers took the tide at the flood and the protestors were attacked by (PTF) Pakistan Taliban Faction, (ISIL, ISIS) the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levat, (JUA) Jammat Ul Ahrar. In 2019, another protest took place against the murder of the political activist (Arman Loni) in Lorelai. And later on as usual, the court proceedings were stopped by the Balochistan Bar council. The doctors in Balochistan recorded a protest in 2016 against the failure of the government and as usual the protestors were baton charged by the police which enraged them.

Balochistan is the single province where people from every walk of life have tasted the unbearable trials of Police and government has watched the events silently. Like other communities, the Hazara community has been vulnerable to attacks most of the time. According to a statistics, the Hazara community consists of 500,000 of Quetta’s 2.3 million people and unsurprisingly they have been trying to find their safe shelter in Islamic Republic of Pakistan.  According to National Commission for Human rights, 509 Hazaras have been killed since five years in different terrorist attacks. .They protested recently in 2021, against the killing of 10 local miners in Balochistan.  The protestors sat on roads with the dead bodies of their beloved ones and they appealed to the Government to end this genocide.   On the other hand, people of Makran have also received the same attitude from the government and energy, power, water, construction, transport, infrastructure, unemployment, safeguard, crime always proves to be the genuine apple of discord in Makran. In Gawadar, people speak for themselves when they find out that their source of income (fishing) is in jeopardy since it is the only goose that lays the golden eggs for a large community.  Recently, in 2021, a protest was being led by Mulana Hidayat Ur Rehman, a member of (JI) Jammat- i-Islami who took up the gauntlet and decided to unite the people on the name of “Haq Do Tehreek”. He discussed many issues and illegal trawling was the main concern. It was settled after the arrival of the Chief Minister and signed an agreement with them but unfortunately, illegal trawling is still in practice in Gawadar.

This practice is not a novel tool for the Baloch nation. Baloch Nation has lost half of its population by being abducted, killed and punished which include youth, old people and even females like Hayat Mirza, Bibi MalikNaz, Ramiz, Qadeer Khalil and many more. 2021 was in fact a hard year for Panjgur as more than 15 people were killed and the culprits are yet unknown. According to Chief Justice Athar Minallah, the demonstration by unarmed persons is a constitutionally protected right but the protestors are treated in a weird way in Balochistan. The protests start with different names and causes, beginning from basic facilities, genocide to arresting criminals like Hidayat Ullah Khilji and the list goes on but the government has always tried to mute them by calling an army of policemen or threaten them by tear-gas shelling. All protests in Balochistan are interlinked and each protest motivates another uprising and every time every protest is accompanied with political activists, lawyers, local media to support their unheard voices. Many of the journalists went on exile because of the threats to stop talking for their rights and this thing is quite unpalatable.

As a result that due to the fear of rigid censorship, mainstream media has never covered any story of a serious issue of Balochistan, the Baloch nation always uses social media to highlight their issues and the government also accepts its failure against Baloch nation but there is still a wide gap that needs to be understood by both public and government. As a fact according to Baloch Nation, prized posts are not given to them and half of them are left jobless because of no recommendation and the other half bears hard consequences of loving and admiring their land-Balochistan.

The protests in Balochistan raise million dollar questions that why are they left with the only option “to protest?’’ despite good governance and accountability. Why does Baloch Nation has too many complaints and why government fails to resolve their issues? The rhythmic reaction from protests to punishment is turning out to be the fate of Balochistan and surprisingly no reign has changed this undesired fate, yet.

According to Farukkh Sultan, the emergence of an economic group that has suffered grievances and is conscious about its own strength and importance seems to be an important condition to the outbreak of any revolution, and perhaps Balochistan is in that outbreak now!

Protests are not only shaping the future of Balochistan but also modifying the socio-economic scenario of Pakistan. People have begun questioning the governance and accountability and hence it is about time for the government to open the doors for fair negotiations and unlike other years, Baloch Nation sees no hope in 2022 for them, and hence protests remain the fate of Balochistan.

The writer is a freelance writer and editor and tweet at @YasmeenSana11

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the ‘The Dayspring’