Dehumanising Balochistan

Dehumanising Balochistan
If Pakistan’s leadership is to be believed, the 70 people that were killed in the Quetta bombing on Monday were collateral damage in the ongoing war, inflicted by the ‘enemies of the country’ on the ‘greater good’ that the state has been trying to achieve.

Our top leaders met in the immediate aftermath of the attack to issue a statement that asserted that the carnage was designed “to sabotage the ongoing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.”

In addition to CPEC and Zarb-e-Azb, the blast was also designed to ‘harm PTI Chief Imran Khan’s Accountability Rally’ and to ‘distract the world from the suffering of the Kashmiris’.

The blast seemingly targeted everything barring those that were actually killed in the attack.

Despite TTP faction Jamaatul Ahrar and ISIS simultaneously claiming responsibility for the bombing, fingers were typically pointed towards India before investigation could even begin. Those raging against ‘RAW’s involvement’ immediately after the attack included Balochistan’s Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri.

But there was little expression of solidarity with the two groups that were the actual targets of the terror attack: lawyers and the people of Balochistan.

According to Barkhurdar Khan, a Balochistan Bar Council member, ‘an entire generation of lawyers’ has been eliminated in one attack in a province where the lack of professionals qualified to tackle the high volume of cases related to human rights abuse and violence was already gaping.

Any manifestation of support has come from the Supreme Court and other judicial institutions for the slain fellow members of a profession that less than a decade ago was hailed as the saviour of democracy for the nationwide lawyers’ movement.

Why didn’t our leaders condemn the bombing as a blatant assault on the law and order in the province?

Why weren’t calls to strengthen legal institutions a part of the tediously rehashed condemnations at a time when three lawyers – including the BBA President Bilal Anwar Kasi and the principal of University of Balochistan’s law college, Barrister Amanullah Achakzai – had been targeted and killed in the couple of months leading up to the attack? Advocate Kasi himself was fighting the case of lawyer Jahanzeb Alvi, who had been shot dead on August 3, by unknown assailants.

Amidst this recent surge in violence against lawyers in the province, and Balochistan’s historic volatility, our leaders could only summon the energy to talk up CPEC and Zarb-e-Azb. This subordination of the targeted people to an infrastructure project and a military operation is the latest, and the most barefaced, example of Balochistan’s dehumanisation.

Balochistan has been reduced to geostrategic loci, central to our self-aggrandizement as an opulent crossroads for global powers.

By bringing the $46.2 billion investment by China into the equation, we inadvertently juxtapose the cost of human life with a transport project. And the Baloch had to posthumously prove their faithfulness to Pakistan by becoming ‘martyrs of CPEC’.

This subordination of human life to economic plans is the very reason behind discontent in Balochistan.

After making a long overdue return to the National Assembly on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing and reiterated that “Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a unanimous national agenda that will be completed at all costs”. If the cost is human life in Balochistan, we are fast running out of currency.