KARACHI: The concerns of Baloch women can only be resolved if the province’s issues are addressed, said civil society members, journalists and human rights activists on Sunday.
They were speaking at a conference held to express solidarity for the Baloch people by the Joint Action Committee of non-profit organisations and Karachi Press Club on the National Women’s Day.
The Aurat Foundation resident director, Mehnaz Rehman, said that the missing persons issue and target killings have taken a toll on the Baloch women too, both physically and mentally.
A letter written by Baloch women was read out by researcher, Nazish Brohi. It described them being constantly fearful for their and their families’ lives.
The letter said that they were also afraid of the Frontier Constabulary. The women expressed their desire to go to universities and learn, instead of attending funerals and mournings.
Brohi said that the issue of Balochistan and its women is one and the same. “We can’t separate the issue of Baloch women from the province’s situation because they have to live and die there.”
Dr Jaffar Ahmed, the Karachi University’s Pakistan Study Centre Director, shared his disappointment on the lack of effort by the political parties in this matter. “We expected that democratic government would take positive steps and initiatives regarding Balochistan,” he said. “But unfortunately, Balochistan does not even get a fair mention.” The government should not think that they will succeed in Balochistan by force, he added.
Jan Muhammad Boledai of the National Party said that women’s condition in the tribal environment of Balochistan was depressing. Earlier, they fought for their rights, but now they also worry about the danger to the lives of their family. “Only a woman can understand the feelings of a mother whose sees her son’s decomposed body after seeing him being kidnapped in front of her.” Condemning the previous course of actions, he said that the government should realise that using force and torturing people is not a solution.
The former federal law minister and human rights activist, Iqbal Haider, in a rousing speech, accused the security agencies and the present government of creating turmoil. He raised the question of why there were anti-state sentiments among the Baloch people, demanding that the government give reasons as why it is so. “If you are brutal with the people, then they will obviously try to divide the state,” he said. “It is shameful that Pakistan’s flag is not hung in Balochistan on March 23, except at the Governor House.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2012.