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Being Baloch in Punjabistan

The lack of educational institutions and the ongoing conflict in Balochistan and KPK push the youth of these regions to move to gain access to education. This desire for social mobility and the ambition to seek higher education brings the youth from the conflict areas to educational institutes outside their region.

Although they move for better prospects and to gain access to better resources, they still face extreme harassment, racial profiling, and even go missing. This has led to multiple sit-ins and protests by the Baloch and Pakhtoon students. They have a growing resentment among themselves as they are the ones that have had to pay the price for the state’s creation as they have been displaced from their homes and paid with their lives.

The students from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad filed a petition against the harassment and the enforced disappearance of Baloch students in the Islamabad High Court. The students from the Baloch Students Council (BSC) said that a fellow student Bebgar Imdad was picked up from his hostel at Punjab University on the morning of April 27. Another Baloch student Hafeez Baloch was also picked up from his hometown in Khuzdar in February and was detained without an FIR for weeks and later charged with terrorism. Baloch students claim that this racial profiling has been going on for a long time. The Islamabad High Court ordered the President to meet with the students to hear their grievances and called for a commission to be formed to look into the case and ensure the safety of Baloch students on campus.

Looking at this from the perspective of class and ethnic privilege makes you realize your positionality in a country like Pakistan. As a Punjabi studying in a private university, conflict and racial profiling are almost unimaginable. These incidents make one feel that there are indeed different Pakistans.

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