Over the last few weeks, we have seen a sudden uprising originating from Quetta against military and several peaceful protests against the failure of good governance.
‘You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’
Though our constitution guarantees protest for one’s fundamental rights, unfortunately, protests, in Pakistan, either against civilian government or military, are always termed as unpatriotic or externally ‘engineered protests’. Sadly such protests never gain the so-called independent media coverage which is an extreme violation of the freedom of expression.
However, the latest countrywide protests by Pakhtuns under the platform of Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), and the minority Hazara community in Quetta as well as some other parts of the country against the state-sponsored terrorism, have become a ray of hope for not only the suppressed and the oppressed but also to the ones who have chronically suffered unbearable atrocities by the establishment.
The protests by helpless minorities against the severe human right violations by Pakistan
In case of the violence-weary province of Balochistan, target-killing of innocent minorities have mushroomed on an unprecedented scale in its provincial capital Quetta. It is estimated that over 2,000 Hazaras have been killed and 3,000 injured in past few years.
The situation further aggravated when two Shia Hazara men were brutally killed in broad daylight on last Saturday in the provincial capital. Soon after the incident, hundreds of Hazara community members blocked several roads across Quetta and the angered protesters chanted slogans against the failure of government and law enforcement agencies for not apprehending the perpetrators.
Advocate Jalila Haider a young social activist, along with other Hazara community members sat on a hunger strike camp at Quetta press club. Later on, the camp was joined by Voice of Baloch Missing Person (VBMP) Chairman Mama Qadeer Baloch, and several other social and civil society activists. “We are not the only victim, the same is also the case with Baloch and Pakhtuns,” says Hazara Democratic Party chairman. He further alleged that such incidents could only occur at the behest of those who wielded power and influence. They blamed the military involvement in financing terrorism in order to create an ethnic difference in Balochistan against the minorities
The fact that the exponential increase in militarisation (of the most deprived and insurgency-hit province) of Balochistan is debatable. The latest statics published by Voice for Baloch Missing Person (VBMP) reveals that more than 30,000 Baloch including social activists, doctors, intellectuals, students and even women and children have been abducted by law enforcement agencies. Sadly, in the yesteryears, some religious extremist groups seem extremely active inside Balochistan, which according to some intellectuals are backed and sponsored the by the military in order to counter the ongoing insurgency and separatist cause.
Military interventions censures news transparency and promotes human right violations
Various state-run projects and plans, including NAP, NACTA, Quetta safe city project, along with a huge increase in a number of check posts et al have terribly failed in protecting and providing the vulnerable citizens with their fundamental rights.
Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, in her latest interview to Herald, said “If military interventions had not happened, we would have been a different Pakistan altogether. If we are not doing well as a country, the blame lies with the military for their interventions in the political process”.
Penning down the words of a senior Quetta-based journalist who wished not to be named, asserted, “Our reports are heavily censured; we are not allowed to operate independently. We are deliberately forced to report the peaceful protests and social activists as militant-induced or foreign-funded propagandas”.
On account of the flawed policies, establishment has terribly lost the war in Balochistan. No doubt, Baloch has now reached a position from which it is almost impossible for the mainstream political setup to bring them back to the federation.
The recently published HRCP report highlighted the issue of enforced disappearances that is not confined to a single part of the country. Several political and rights activists are allegedly being taken away in different parts of the country, and within a short period of time, their tortured and bullet-riddled bodies would be found dumped instead of being produced before a court of law.
It’s high time for the state to cautiously look at the issue from a different, peaceful perspective. Censoring the ideas of Manzoor Pashteen and Jalila Haider will no longer benefit the national interest of the country, and terming them as ‘engineered protesters’ is not the solution. Only peaceful dialogue and effective addressing of their issues can result in a change.
10 May 2018/Thursday Written by Mohd Tahir Shafi