Though cholera cases have subsided in Balochistan, the situation is far from being safe because the reasons that cause the spread of the disease are pretty much there. A recent outbreak affected nearly 4,000 people in Pir Koh area of Dera Bugti district, leading to 25 deaths.
A poor grieving mother made headlines when she asked a scholar if it was permissible for her to commit suicide, despite the prohibition in Islam, because she had lost her child to cholera, deprivation and injustice.
A gas pipeline that passes in front of her home and supplies gas to areas from Khyber to Karachi will keep reminding her of her loss and the brutal ignorance of the authorities forever.
The district is rich in natural gas, but its inhabitants are deprived of even basic human needs, like water and healthcare. Ironically, the Balochistan government has enough money to gift an aircraft to Azad Kashmir, but it cannot provide water to its own residents. Apart from Pir Koh, areas like Zen Koh and Sham Kulchas are also faced with a severe water crisis and the impoverished residents are forced to drink contaminated water. This is more of a man-made crisis than a natural one, and can be controlled if the government and other stakeholders take the issue seriously. The government should also provide relief to all grieving families without any delay.
In the long run, the government should install bore pumps and purification plants to mitigate the water crisis, besides improving health facilities in the district. Only concrete steps can address a pervading sense of alienation in these areas.
DR ZAFFAR BUGTI