Stories about Balochistan

Balochistan bleeds: A Saturday that shook the province to the core

Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University is the only women’s university in Quetta. It was established in March, 2004 and approximately 3,000 female students are currently studying at this university. Last Saturday, something tragic happened that left these students scarred for life. Now, they worry if they will ever be able to pursue their dreams. Like any other day, students attended their classes, packed their bags and switched on their cell phones to mark the end of their school day. They were chatting, laughing and bidding their friends farewell as they made their way towards the bus that would take them home. ...

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Terrorist attack on Quaid’s residency

Being a History student, it came as sad news to me that Pakistan’s founding father’s residence was attacked on June 15 in Ziarat where, amongst other things, his personal belongings were all destroyed. Ziarat is popular for its natural beauty and for being Quaid’s last abode during his days of illness. It came as no surprise to me as many started raising questions regarding his stay in Ziarat at the time. Despite the unavailability of doctors and lack of medical facilities in this region, he was shifted there and while being brought back to Karachi, his health deteriorated and ...

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What will elections bring for Hazaras – more death?

It was October 5, 1999 when ex-education minister Sardar Nisar Ali was ambushed by “unknown” terrorists. His driver and personal bodyguard died on the spot, he, however, was fortunate enough to have survived the attack but sustained serious bullet injuries. This was the first terrorist attempt ever to be made on a prominent Hazara figure in Quetta in a democratic set up, led by the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Soon after, leading Hazara businessmen including Sardar Saadat Ali, the younger brother of Sardar Nisar Ali started receiving life threatening calls known to be later on from the ‘alleged’ terrorists in Afghanistan. On ...

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Balochistan’s electoral politics

The decision of Baloch nationalist parties, including the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), the National Party (NP) and the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) to take part in the upcoming elections is a good omen not only for Pakistan but also for Balochistan, which is fraught with every kind of danger — enforced disappearances, kidnappings and sectarian killings. Baloch separatists and government forces point fingers at each other for all this mayhem. At this juncture of uncertainty and scepticism, where Baloch nationalist parties are treading cautiously, fearing the backlash they might face from separatist elements for their decision to go to the ...

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Iran-Pak pipeline: Still a Pipedream

It’s official; the Pakistan-Iran pipeline project will soon be underway. Work is scheduled to begin on the Pakistan side today (Iran’s portion is nearly done), and is expected to be completed in less than two years. Predictably, Washington is not pleased. “We think that we provide and are providing the Pakistani government and people a better way to meet their energy needs,” a State Department spokesman recently declared. That’s a questionable claim. US officials have been trumpeting their investments in hydropower projects, which are intended to generate more than 1,000 megawatts of power. Yet the pipeline is expected to provide more than 4,000 MW. Indeed, from a pure supply/demand argument, the ...

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Why I believe the jirga system should stay

We, as people, are very quick to jump to conclusions, form opinions, and criticise what we hear and see in the news. It may be something as trivial as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) holding talks with Tahirul Qadri, or the supposedly fake video that went viral showing the Taliban handing down 50 lashes to a girl in Swat who was found to be in violation of the Shariah law by the Taliban jirga. Very recently when a jirga in Balochistan declared 13 girls vani to settle a tribal feud, soon after television and social media were inundated with extreme views, some slammed the jirga system as ‘barbaric’, ‘medieval’ and an ...

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Fragile political transition towards democracy

The last session of Parliament will mark the government’s completion of its constitutional tenure, irrespective of the fact whether the roots of true democracy have been nurtured or not. The past five years have been a highly tumultuous period with economic slowdowns, corruption and terrorism plaguing the country like never before. A look at the functioning of the legislative assembly shows the political tension between the winners of the 2008 elections and the main opposition party, with little constructive performance by the former and productive criticism by the latter. The achievements of the PPP government do not match the criterion necessary for ...

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Police powers to FC in Balochistan: A futile measure

In Balochistan, the police are currently enjoying additional powers under the Police Act of the British colonial days to raid, arrest, detain and prosecute anyone found violating the laws of the land. The police enjoy the power to search any suspected place where criminals are hiding illegal weapons, narcotics and other contraband goods. When violent incidents increased in the province, mainly through the targeted killing of Hazara Shias by terrorists in Quetta and its outskirts, the provincial government gave police powers to the Frontier Corps (FC) to raid, arrest, detain and question suspects involved in targeted killings and other heinous ...

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Blood trails in Balochistan

Civil servants hailing from Balochistan are braving difficult times in Islamabad. They face embarrassment when someone poses a question about the recent bloodletting in Quetta and elsewhere. While elaborating over the disastrous blasts, they tell me how the Hazara community is met with deep-seated sectarian acrimony by non-Shia outfits. While in conversation with some civil servants, I was shocked to learn that the recent past had witnessed a tremendous surge in the exodus of Hazara youth to Australia. Over 600 youth are now seeking asylum through legal and illegal channels in western countries, particularly Australia. Several others are leaving their ...

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The more they target us, the louder I will say ‘I am Shia’

Over 90 of us perished on January 10, 2013.  I don’t mean Pakistanis, I mean Shias. As much as it pains me to identify myself as something before a Pakistani, this state seems to have left us little choice. Since the age of 15, when my parents decided to let me be and decide for myself how far I wanted my religious identity to go, I have been attending fewer and fewer majaalis every year. In some part, it has to do with the fact that I got busy building a career for myself, but in some part it was also because I ...

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