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Editorial: Too Much!

Qambar Chakar Baloch

Editorial by Malik Siraj Akbar

Those who were hoping that 2010 would gradually see an improvement in the state of affairs in Balochistan now have to review their opinion. In the first week of the new year, three more missing Baloch persons’ bullet-riddled dead bodies have been recovered from the province. This comes a week after the publication of a report in The New York Times saying that the Obama Administration was alarmed about the growing enforced disappearances in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan.

The recovery of fresh dead bodies from Turbat, however, merits special attention for several reasons. Like many other such cases, the new development has not been widely reported in the national mainstream Press. But it could be another turning point for the Baloch armed struggle in Mekran, a region which has a rising educated middle class rather than a tribal set-up at all.

One of the persons whose body was found near a river in Turbat District was Qambar Chakar, perhaps the most popular and admired of all Baloch Students Organization (BSO) activists who have been arrested, kidnapped or killed during the ongoing battle.

Twenty-four year old Qambar was a promising Baloch youth who represented the educated segment of the new generation. He was a cogent orator, versatile writer, poet and a remarkable mobilizer. He was very popular among the youth for his commitment to democracy, human rights and Baloch national struggle. His killing has not only turned off a light from his parents’ home but it has deprived Balochistan of an aspiring progressive leader.

Had he lived longer, Qambar, a boy with with a middle-class background, had every potential to become a future Baloch leader. His murder is a great loss for the Baloch society and politics. In addition, the killing of such an extremely important young Baloch indicates that the perpetrators are not randomly targeting the Baloch youth. They are, on the other hand, targeting the cream of the society. These are the brightest and most progressive assets of the Baloch society who are being killed one after the other.

Qambar was an MS student of Economics at Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences (BUITMS). He was among the few lucky Baloch youths who had the “luxury” of traveling from Turbat to Quetta and get admission in the prestigious BUITMS. Based on the current discriminatory admission policy at BUITMS, only a few and extremely bright Balochs can get admissions at this educational institution.

Soon after getting into the BUITMS, Qambar dared to challenge the status quo at BUITMS and launched a historic movement against the anti-Baloch admission policy. He demanded that the so-called merit policy, which only benefited the rich and urban kids, should be repealed and the merit system should be devolved at district level. His movement became very popular among the Baloch students and gave birth to a significant campaign for the Baloch educational rights.

Qambar, along with his friends Qambar Malik and Khurshid Baloch, sat on an unto death hunger strike camp and marched in front of the Governor’s House and the Chief Minister’s House demanding the opening of BUITMS doors for students from all thirty districts of the province. Unfortunately, Qambar’s dream did not come true in his life time.

Soon after the rise of his popular movement, Qambar was implicated by the Frontier Corps (FC) in a terrorism related case and whisked away on July 10, 2009. The authorities accused him of possessing a hand grenade. He was kept in illegal detention until April 22, 2010. On his release, he confirmed that he had been brutally tortured during the custody. After a little lull, he was once again whisked away from Shahi Tump (Turbat district) with his cousin, Irshad Baloch, on November 26, 2010.

On the other hand, the second dead body which was found with Qambar was that of a missing Baloch journalist Ilyas Nazar, 26, who was also a student of Masters of Computer Science at the University of Balochistan. He had been reportedly picked up by the intelligence agencies from Pasni Zero Point on December 22 on his way from Quetta to native Turbat. Ilyas is the first journalist to be killed this year but he joins the list of the six other media persons who were murdered last year in the province. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed deep anger over the murder of the young copy editor of a Balochi language magazine.

All these developments do not bode well for the new year. Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi did surprise everyone by directly mentioning the issue of the missing Baloch persons in his address during the recent visit of the Army Chief General Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani.

That is not enough.

The governor and the chief minister should not distance themselves from the families of these Baloch people whose dead bodies are resurfacing every other day. Difference of political views does not mean that these people do not deserve justice. The government should take the matter more seriously. These are Balochistan’s young and bright children who are being brutally killed. In most of the cases, fingers are raised at the country’s security establishment. Therefore, the Chief of the Army Staff should also play his role in bringing this grave violation of human rights to a permanent end.

They rightly say an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Faiz Baluch