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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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