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The price of rebellion and the vanishing Baloch students


Ever since Balochistan was integrated into Pakistan, it has faced marginalization on social, economic, and political levels. Despite being the largest province and a gold mine for the country’s gas exports, it acquires little to no state investments for its development and the welfare of Balochis. Continued economic and social exclusion has fueled separatist movements in the region which are growing in numbers by the day.


The movement now sees students join their ranks with the formation of the Baloch Student Organization, all with the same grievances and working towards one goal: to have Balochistan declared independent from the country. These Balochi students grow up to identify trends in the country’s education system which continue to erase their ethnic identity. The education system in Balochistan makes no effort to incorporate Balochi history, language, or literature in its curriculum. Therefore, it fuels the fire that leads to alienating Balochis from the rest of the nation.

Pakistan has recently seen a trend of abductions of these Balochi students. Many of these have vanished from within the walls of Quaid-e-Azam University prompting widespread protests and criticism of the military for allegedly being responsible for the abductions.


The Hafeez Baloch case in this context is a particularly distressing one. The Balochi Physicist was abducted from his village in front of his students at his academy and to this day, there is no information on his whereabouts. Even though these abductions have only recently been highlighted, Balochis have mysteriously been killed or have vanished over the past decade. An Express Tribune article from 2010 lists 21 bodies, all belonging to Baloch nationalists found in various areas of the province. TW: Graphic mention of murder ahead.


All 21 of these bodies were found bearing the same torture marks to the bodies, hands tied behind their backs and took bullets to the skull, tying the decade-long mystery together in an extremely upsetting case of Baloch suppression and the price students must pay in the name of freedom of expression.

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Faizan Qureshi
Faizan Qureshi
06 juil. 2022

Very few people have had the courage to bring the issue of missing Baluchistan persons into the discourse, it's very brave of you to write about it. I share the same thoughts with you Laiba, I think the state has to change its approach to deal with the problems in the province and to reduce dependence on the sardars, give politics a chance, and allow youth to fearlessly express themselves. The crux of the debate still revolves around the rhetoric of economic grievances and political marginalization. This debate usually ends without leading to any solution. However, I think the discussion needs to be done about the youth in Balochistan who are joining insurgent groups, and how little is being done…

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You did a good job, Laiba! I am delighted to read this blog that someone writes about the disappearance of Balochs. This is a very serious problem. Balochistan, Pakistan's geographically largest but poorest province, has been wracked by an insurgent movement for the last two decades. Paramilitary forces are a common sight throughout Balochistan; even educational institutions are not free from militarization.

Enforced disappearances are widely believed to be a part of the state's counterinsurgency operations. Victims of enforced disappearances range from insurgents and family members of insurgents to political workers and even students. Anyone who is merely suspected of sympathizing with insurgents is at risk of being whisked away.

Baloch students, no matter whether they are in Balochistan or…

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Thank you for highlighting the role of these powerful women, an extremely important point I missed in the blog. What concerns me here is why are the educational institutions of the province being militarised when no institution of other provinces witnesses this level of surveillance? Why is the government allowing this when it is the involvement of these powers that allows them to keep a close eye on the activities of these students and abduct anyone who they view as a threat.

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Some very important insight that's also the need of the hour. I think that the targeting of the Baloch students has seen a massive rise in the last decade or a little more is also because of the way the governance and political structures are present in the region, with lineage waderas taking nepotistic charge of the system, allowing pretty much no space for authentic voices of the youth to be a part of the system. Universities then have been one of the last arenas where students have the ability to raise their political voices. And to all the charges of being political as unfair that are leveled against student-organisations like BSO, I think we must also not forget that…


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You are completely right in pointing that out, I don't think political separation is the sole objective of the BSO, it should've been worded out differently but it is on their agenda. The state in fact has banned one of the BSO wing demanding independence for an alleged affliliation with India. I personally think the insecurities of the government come into play if the demands for political seperation shifts focus away from their other objectives such as promoting their language, literature, improved educational facilities and increased provincial autonomy. However, the scene is changing by the day as more and more people are becoming aware of the plight of Balochi's which puts pressure on the government to acknowledge their demands. This…

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Laiba, you have raised some very important points. The racial profiling of Balochis has been going on for years, and it is an issue that is hardly ever talked about, especially in traditional media. Most of us have heard about the issue through Twitter, and it is only recently that the issue of these forced disappearances has been included in our discussions. Governments, too, have made promises to look into the issue, but no progress has been made, and the enforced disappearances continue. According to groups like the "Voice for Baloch Missing Persons," in the last 20 years, there have been enforced disappearances of at least 5,000 people. It is extremely important for us to raise our voices to demand…

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En réponse à

It is definitely crucial to raise our voices for the Balochis, a trend that has only recently picked up due to the social media uproar even though the atrocities have been going on for decades and only had the Balochi movements speaking up against them. However, I do believe in the power of social media and the pressure it may put on the authorities to actively look into these disappearances, provide the nation with answers, and begin administering accountability within the military ranks.

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An extremely important issue! Even though Balochistan accounts for nearly 44 percent of the Pakistani state, it is probably the most ignored state and the most underdeveloped. The Pakistani authorities have literally squeezed Balochistan of its resources and only given abductions and killings against all these resources.


Pakistan has still not learned from the 1971 war and the separation of East Pakistan - and is continuously repeating the same mistake. After independence, Pakistan has been constantly using resources from East Pakistan and using them in West Pakistan, and in return only provided East Pakistan with racial discrimination and under-representation. And eventually, East Pakistan got separated. The same is the case in Balochistan.


While we understand that separating Balochistan from Pakistan…

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I completely agree Hamza! To add to your comment I believe that the non-military related unrest in Balochistan also boils down to the grievances of the people and the province having the highest (71.2 percent) poverty rate of Pakistan. The government should prevent the 1971 history from repeating itself by redirecting resources and work on developing the province, promoting their language, culture, and making space for Balochi's in the public sphere. However, I think it is crucial to make sure that the redirection of resources should not fall into the hands of a few Balochi elites and should go towards the welfare of the province as a whole.

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