By Yasmeen Sana
The Baloch have been resisting against various injustices ever since the creation of Balochistan. They find demonstration the only route for advocating their rights. Everyone from politicians to students in Balochistan have participated in protests. Demonstrations ensue after any coercion, violation of human rights, disenfranchisement, suppression or exclusion. In Balochistan, people have to come on to the roads even to ask for water and electricity. Sadly, most protests end up with baton charge or imprisonment.
Medical students of Balochistan protest every year against the loopholes of administration and testing services. Some of the hashtags they use include #reconducttest, #saynotoHEC, #BMC, and #werejectmdcat. #wewantjustice. Again, most protests end with the imprisonment of students. Students of Makran and tribal areas of Baluchistan are pushed out of the schooling opportunities – they then have a choice between working on the Iran border or choosing an illegal line of work. In this environment, many young people in Balochistan have turned to drugs, others have joined the rebels in different regions.
According to one report, each year approximately 25,000 students graduate and but only 2,000 of them find jobs in Balochistan.
Recently, Balochistan University students were protesting the disappearance of two students, Sohail Baloch and Faseeh Baloch. These students were forcibly disappeared from their university hostel despite all the check posts. Previously, students have protested against the vice chancellor of Balochistan University in 2019, and disclosed many harassment cases. Additionally, thousands of students demonstrated against the online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online campaigns during the pandemic in 2020-2021, trended with #werejectonlineclasses, #saynotoonlineclasses.
In 2020, Global Partnership Education Teachers called a protest in front of Quetta Press club and many female and male teachers joined. They demonstrated against the government’s announcement about their permanent postings. Most of them didn’t receive permanent positions and this is what they were protesting.
In 2019, a protest took place against the murder of the political activist, Arman Loni, in Loralai. Later, court proceedings on the murder case were stopped by Balochistan Bar council.
Doctors in Balochistan recorded a protest in 2016 against the failure of government, in retaliation, the police baton charged the protestors.
Communities across Balochistan, including students, teachers, activists, and teachers protest for their fundamental rights. Another community that is contantsly forced to protest is the Hazara community. Hazaras comprise 500,000 of the Quetta’s 2.3 million people and they have failed to find safe shelter in Pakistan. According to National Commission for Human rights, 509 Hazaras have been killed in the last five years in different terrorist attacks.
In 2021, the community protested the killing of 10 local Hazara miners in Balochistan. The protestors sat on roads with the bodies of their beloved ones and they appealed to the government to end this genocide.
Then there are the people of Makran who have also been vulnerable to hardships. Energy, power, water, construction, transport, infrastructure, unemployment, security, are all lacking in Makran.
In Gwadar, the sea is the crux of the protest, and people protest when they realise their source of income is in jeopardy. In 2021, a protest was led by Maulana Hidayat Ur Rehman, a member of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The Maulana took up the gauntlet and united people under the banner of the Haq Do Tehreek. He discussed many issues and illegal trawling was the main concern. The protest ended after the arrival of the Chief Minister, who signed an agreement to meet the protestor’s demands. Unfortunately, illegal trawling is still in practice in Gwadar.
In a way, the government has compelled protestors onto the roads. According to Chief Justice Athar Minallah, demonstrations by unarmed persons is a constitutionally protected right but protestors in Balochistan are badly treated.
People of Balochistan have protested many times for many purposes but the most common protest is against the missing persons of Balochistan and enforced disappearances. The government fails to address their demands in a genuine way. More than 20,000 Baloch people have gone missing without any fair process, and the government has failed to pay heed to this issue.
Protests start with different causes, beginning from basic infrastructural demands, to genocide and arresting criminals like Hidayat Ullah Khilji. The list goes on, and the government always tries to silence protestors by calling an army of policemen or using tear gas.
The current Gwadar protest raise serious concerns for Chinese investments that amount to billions of dollars. The government must maintain friendly terms with China, while also listening to the demands of the protestors.
These protests gain attention on social media while they are ignored by the mainstream media. As a result, people use social media to highlight their issues.
According to the people of Balochistan, they are exploited, killed and even silenced brutally. Now, the government has increased the hatred inside the hearts of people in Balochistan. The protests in Balochistan raise questions about where the Baloch Nation is leading and why their only option to every problem is ‘protest’? The pattern from protests to punishment is becoming the fate of Balochistan.
Protests are shaping the future of Balochistan while also modifying the socio-economic scenario of Pakistan. People have begun questioning governance and demanding accountability. Soon the government will have no choice but to open the doors for fair negotiations.