Tête-à-Tête with Banari Baloch – Ambreen Baloch

Author: Ambreen Baloch

With incidents of enforced disappearances upsurging like never before, the land of Balochistan is witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis till date. Talk not of privileges, the Baloch nationals have been denied even the basic human rights. Water scarcity, unavailability of adequate healthcare services, lack of infrastructure and what not. At the tender age of 10-12 when students belong to the classrooms, in Balochistan, they are spending their days on roads, protesting for civil rights and demonstrating for the safe release of their loved ones.

Forceful abduction by the state has become a systematic mechanism to suppress the voices of those who are uttering against the regime as for them they’re a potential threat, threat to their fragile ego and to their so-called image quotient. In only a handful of cases, some return and the rest of them remain in the abyss. What happens to most of them remains a mystery. Shedding light on the recent cases of abduction, it could be safely assumed that Baloch students are now on the radar of state agencies. Reasons are simple – those who know the least, obey the best. An educated society cannot be enslaved.

Whilst keeping in mind the pertinent issue, I got in conversation with Banari Baloch, a civil rights activist who threw light on the burning topic and had a lot to share. Upon being asked the prominent reasons as to why the world gets to listen so little of Balochistan crisis, she replied that the International communities, be it human rights commissions, media houses or Amnesty international are all negligent towards the Baloch crisis as each one of them has their motives to serve with their own benefits and privileges. Thus, the issue of Balochistan is constantly and consciously getting neglected by the international media.

We further discussed the significant issues which the Baloch population tend to suffer on a regular basis to which she hesitated at first but told that the Baloch nationals are denied even the basic human rights as each day is a new battle for them. Wherein the rest of the world gets up in the morning, goes to work and spends time with his/her family, on the other hand, a Baloch has to travel miles to quench their thirst, run door to door for medical assistance and wait endlessly for their loved ones to return. If by chance, they dare to speak against the state, the result is forceful abduction of their brothers, fathers or husbands. Closely looking at the current pattern, it is evident that the ones getting abducted are mostly lawyers, doctors, teachers and activists. In a nutshell, a well-informed and well-aware citizen is always on the radar of state agencies.

Taking forward the conversation, I asked her as to why the issue of ‘enforced disappearances’ is prevalent in Balochistan and what could be the major reasons for it to which she replied at once that the cases of disappearances are not so common in any other part of the world as no government in the world goes witch-hunting against its conflicting citizens. It is only a common sight in Pakistan where citizens get picked up by the state for stating the truth, for putting forth their issues, for holding the government accountable and the easiest way to shun their voices is to silence them. It’s a great historical humanitarian crisis which is only visible in Pakistan. The government works on the notion of one who gets out of sight, gets out of mind.

Hopping onto the next question I asked her as to why Baloch students have been the constant target of Pakistan army upon which she shed light on the recent cases of snatching away of mobile phones of students and going through their social media applications, so as to surveil their activities, was a common sight in the months of February-March 2022. Thus, it’s evident that one who is aware of his rights, one who speaks for himself and others are the first and foremost prey for the army. They hunt them down and the tag of ‘missing person’ goes along with them forever. Soon after, another incident appears and people tend to forget the last one and the loop goes on ever.

A lot being discussed on the Baloch crisis, I further asked her about the role of Pakistani government, if they’re taking any substantial efforts for the betterment or not to which she out rightly declined because if they would be taking there would not be any issues in the first place as in the case of Balochistan the protector has turned into a predator. If the government must be fulfilling its duty then there would not be any cases of violation of human rights. Even if the government pretends to care it’s only for the sake of image cleansing mechanism.

Bring the insightful conversation to an end I asked her about any existing on-ground organizations/NGOs working to assist the locals or if one wishes to crowdfund but unfortunately to my amazement there is only a single organization which highlights the issue of missing persons which is Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP).

Last but not the least I asked her if she wants to say something on behalf of the people of Balochistan to which she emotionally replied that Baloch is a nation that has been subjugated by the state authorities consciously to make them unconscious but when they become aware of what they have been deprived of then it becomes the apt reason for their illegal abductions, and disappearances. Baloch qaum is constantly fighting and speaking for their human rights for decades and they will always speak for their due rights, the world must take a substantial step to this grave human rights violations in Balochistan because these disappearances will never be the solution of Baloch issue and it can never stop them to speak and resist for their rights but these act of disappearances can make them more violent and it is a sincere plea to the international communities to stop this humanitarian crisis occurring incessantly in Balochistan.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Balochistan Post or any of its editors.

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