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Enforced Disappearances - A Threat to Education in and outside of Balochistan

Since the early 2000s, thousands of Balochis have been forcibly abducted by the Securtiy Forces operating in the area. According to HRCB data, since 2016, at least 3,738 people have been forcibly disappeared. The majority of these enforced disappearances have been those of students. However, this process of profiling and abducting students is not limited to Balochistan. Even the Balochi students enrolled in universities in other provinces of Pakistan are not safe from forcibly disappearing. In April this year, a Balochi student was picked up by the security forces from the Punjab University hostels in Lahore. The video of him being forced into a vehicle went viral on social media, and several activists protested against it. This was the only reason this was brought to the public's attention. Otherwise, like numerous other cases, this would have gone unnoticed.

But what role do enforced disappearances play in education?

The main obstacles to education in Balochistan are security threats and the lack of educational infrastructure available in the province. In hopes that the situation would be better for them outside Balochistan, many students strive to enroll in universities outside the province. However, incidents like those of Feroz Baloch, a 17-year-old student from Balochistan who was abducted from his university campus in Rawalpindi, discourage students from enrolling in universities and having a chance at a better life.

Students who were afraid of attending universities in Balochistan, when they see that the situation is not better outside, decide to opt-out of going to university. Similarly, many enforced disappearances in Balochistan have been those of the families' breadwinners. Having to choose between survival and education, households choose survival, and hence many children, especially the oldest ones, are forced to leave their education to provide for their families. Not only this, but many victims of these disappearances belong to lower socio-economic backgrounds. When the financial situation is already dire, coupled with the breadwinner's loss, many families cannot afford to send their kids to school.

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There's a concept of contagion in stock markets, that when a bad event occurs in one area, the effects are bound to seen in all markets. I think that is the case with the world in general, there is nothing that happens in isolation, all affairs of life are bouund to be effected, and education is especially vulnerable. You have highlighted a very important issue, looking at it from an intersectional lense, poverty and geneder coupled with the issue of abductions creates a unique and especially disadvantaged position. in addition, lack of government support further worsens the situation for them. Now if i put myself in their shoes, I understand why education isn't a priority, and it probably won't be…


A commendable post! You have highlighted a nationally plaguing issue that many conventional and non-conventional reporting channels, shy away from addressing. The dilemma of Balochi student's enforced disappearances is only addressed in hushed whispers which is a gross injustice rendered to the plights of numerous families. Your post complicates the narrative governing the issue by bringing in the economic and social implications that govern the wider impact a singular disappearance can have upon the psyche of the people. Protests have long been the only resistive block that have emerged against this state sanctioned and protected injustice yet arguably, since these enforced disappearances persist to-date, what would you suggest as a viable means of addressing the harm rendered to their educational…


I recently saw a video of a university, where all Blochi students were hiding in a room at night while there were people outside who were looking for them and openly threatening them. This shows the level of tolerance our society has for people who are a part of Pakistan. Such situation makes them feel uncomfortable, threatened and resentful towards the punjabi’s especially.

You also mentioned that these people have to choose between education and survival. These people who are also Pakistani should not have to make this decision. This land should be as safe for a Balochi child as it is for a Punjabi child. However, we unfortunately do not see this equality.


Interesting post!

I would like to add that these enforced disappearances force one to question: is the state really threatened by the educational attainment of students hailing from conflict-affected regions? Why is it that these young minds are constantly targetted? Surely they do not pose as massive of a threat as other organised rebel and terrorist groups in the area? These students are often abducted on suspicion, and alleged ties to such groups, but is it because they are just easy targets?

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