Massacre in TurbatArchive
IT is unfortunate that whenever Balochistan surfaces on the national radar, it is usually for all the wrong reasons. Whether it is the separatist insurgency or sectarian bloodshed, violence and insecurity are what have come to define the province in recent times. Saturday’s atrocity in Turbat also falls in line with this unenviable trend. As per reports, at least 20 labourers were killed when militants opened fire on the men as they slept. The victims were reportedly all non-Baloch, with most of them hailing from Punjab, while a few of the men were from Sindh. This is not the first incident in Balochistan where people have been targeted because of their ethnic identity; last year, several workers were killed after their ethnic backgrounds were determined by gunmen in an incident near Hub. Turbat happens to be the hometown of the current chief minister of Balochistan; however, such brazen attacks show that even the native area of the province’s highest elected official is not insulated from the effects of the militant insurgency.
Balochistan remains far from pacified; on Saturday there were reports of the security forces carrying out search operations in Dera Murad Jamali and Panjgur, while a suspect wanted in the 2013 attack on the Quaid-i-Azam Residency in Ziarat was killed by security men in Bolan. Moreover, the missing persons’ question remains unresolved. While many of the issues raised by political activists pertaining to the security establishment’s heavy hand used in Balochistan are genuine, these legitimate grievances are relegated to the back-burner whenever militants carry out atrocities similar to what was just witnessed in Turbat. It is unfortunate that nationalist forces claiming to speak for the rights of Balochistan are either silent or offer muted criticism whenever such gory incidents take place. Nationalists must speak up and condemn such horrendous murders just as strongly as they slam the security forces’ alleged excesses in Balochistan. As it is, for most of the rest of Pakistan — apart from human rights activists and a few concerned groups and citizens — within the general population there is much apathy where Balochistan and its plight are concerned, with the province generally considered a distant entity. The callous murder of non-Baloch workers and ‘settlers’ will do little to attract the sympathy of the people towards Balochistan’s legitimate grievances, which is why those who believe in fighting for the province’s rights peacefully must raise their voices against such unacceptable violence.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2015
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