Are the people of Balochistan not human enough for us?

Published: August 9, 2016

Family members of the victims mourn the death of loved ones in the massive explosion that took place in Quetta. PHOTO: AFP

Nations can be judged in times of tragedy. How they live, how they breathe and how they react to an atmosphere of fear, fire and blood, tells a lot about them. As a nation, which has seen years of relentless bloodshed, bombings, beheadings and coffins, the Baloch, Pakhtuns and Hazaras of Balochistan are amongst the most resilient people our region’s history has witnessed. They have been cut down, mauled, killed in their own homes – yet they do not react irrationally nor do they retaliate barbarically in return. Such resilience and patience is beyond compare in modern times.

However, if we are to judge the Pakistani ‘nation’, we have unfortunately failed miserably in the face of these same odds. We do not reach out to help, cower in our homes, or raise our voices for more than one day before going back to sleep the next day. Yesterday’s harrowing incident in Quetta is another prime example. How long will the residents of Quetta die at the hands of the terrorists for the rest of Pakistan to realise that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed?

When the Hazara braved the freezing cold and rested their martyrs on the road a couple of years ago, every empathetic soul felt their pain. To brave the weather is one thing but to do it with the bodies of their loved ones was heart-breaking. Even then it took our stone faced government days to reach Quetta and ask them about their worries. The negotiations, even then, centred around the Hazara ending their protest rather than solving their security issues. It only took a couple of months for the incident to repeat itself with another hundred or more souls becoming victim of Balochistan government’s security failure.

Are the people of Balochistan not human? Is their blood of no value or is it not red in colour? Why does it require a hundred casualties or more, for the government and the bureaucracy to actually acknowledge that Balochistan exists? The black screens, sad faces, official tweets of condemnation are not a replacement for concrete measures to rectify the situation.

How many Baloch have died at the hands of banned groups such as Lashkar e Jhangvi (LeJ), yet the government refuses to carry out any action against them. Was the killing of innocent men, women and children returning home in buses a year ago not enough to warrant any operation against them? Are we afraid of the terrorists more than they are afraid of us?

The coverage received by the Quetta incident is another case in point. There is an outpour of condemnation against the cruel act and almost every politician has been on record to condemn the incident. However, nobody has been able to say or suggest what really needs to be done to tackle the situation. Will the Punjab government allow military action to be taken against LeJ which has its headquarters in Southern Punjab? This incident has been claimed by a splinter group within the Taliban but what is it that differentiates these groups from each other?

To be honest, nothing.

All these groups kill, maim and behead in the name of a pseudo-religious ideology which they believe in. If that is a fact, then why are we differentiating between them? If the actions are the same, then why is there an operation against the Taliban and none against other banned groups, who help and support them?

I am sure the media will highlight the suffering of Balochistan as it has in the past. I am sure that the statements of Nawaz Sharif made in Quetta yesterday will be televised for days. What I am not sure of is, will the blood of our brethren bear any fruit in that barren land?

Dear Quetta, I pray for you.



The author holds an MPhil in Public Administration and has taught Politics and Public Policy at the University of Karachi.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.