Ignoring Balochistan

The underlying abuse is not being addressed

For the last several days, Balochistan, the resource-rich province of Pakistan, is burning from inattention towards different issues. Within the Constitution, the locals have marched on the roads for a better life which has been kept a dream from Day One. Now, the inhabitants of Balochistan have built up the courage to ask for what originally belongs to them constitutionally, but no one is ready to listen to their grievances.

From November 8, Balochistan University’s students have continued their sit-in protest within the varsity campus against the disappearance of two of their fellow students, Sohail Baloch and Fassieh Baloch, from the hostel of the university on November 1. Sadly, it has got the least attention from mainstream media, whereas the provincial government sounds “unaware of the situation of the province”.

As Balochistan has been facing some serious leadership crises for the last couple of decades, the province direly needs to combine efforts of provincial and federal governments to sort out the given queries taking birth in Balochistan each day. On one side, the government committee failed to convince the protesting students in Balochistan University about their missing fellows, Sohail and Fassieh Baloch, and on the other end, the government could not satisfy Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman about solving the issues of the citizens of CPEC city, Gwadar. In such circumstances, one wonders whether Balochistan is observed with the same eye or not

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Despite their simple demand to release their fellows, the Registrar of Balochistan University, Dr. Farhat Iqbal has denied the allegations of their disappearance within the varsity saying that “no traces were found” that they were taken off from the hostel. Upon the request of the students to show the CCTV footage from 5 to 7 p.m of that day, the Registrar excused that no CCTV footage had been taken as a result of “load shedding in the area”. Consequently, students have closed Balochistan University from November 8.

Mounting pressures on the newly established government of Quddus Bezanjo compelled his cabinet to form a Government Committee to merely listen to the cries of students and lead their protest to an end. However, they could not convince the students to end their protest. Unhappy with the Government Committee and the law enforcement agencies of the province, the students warned the government that they would go for a countrywide closure of institutions if their fellows are not released soon.

On the other hand, Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman, Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami, Gwadar, has staged a protest in Gwadar for the last 11 days. Maulana calls it “Gwadar ko haq do tehreek” (Give rights to Gwadar movement). He has multiple demands for the rights of citizens of Gwadar which have been infringed. The main demands include; illegal fishing to be abolished by trawlers, extra check-posts should be removed in Gwadar and Iran border to be made functional for the people. The other demands include an end to drugs, better educational facilities, right to dignity and so on.

Beginning on November 15, a government team led by provincial ministers met with Maulana in the protest on November 23 for negotiations, but were unsuccessful. The Maulana announced right after unsuccessful negotiations with the team to continue his protest because he was not ‘satisfied’ with the government team.

The local body of Gwadar, on the other end, calls Maulana’s sit-in protest  “point-scoring” as they claim that the government has fulfilled 11 important demands of the Maulana, and others are getting close to fulfillment. While some others, wanting to be unnamed, call Maulana controversial. “What he says is true, but he is not restrained by people who have censored and controlled the other politicians from speaking up, specifically in Gwadar.”

As Balochistan has been facing some serious leadership crises for the last couple of decades, the province direly needs to combine efforts of provincial and federal governments to sort out the given queries taking birth in Balochistan each day. On one side, the government committee failed to convince the protesting students in Balochistan University about their missing fellows, Sohail and Fassieh Baloch, and on the other end, the government could not satisfy Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman about solving the issues of the citizens of CPEC city, Gwadar. In such circumstances, one wonders whether Balochistan is observed with the same eye or not.

Ali Jan Maqsood
The writer is a freelance columnist

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