Human Rights Watch: Report reveals grim state of education in Balochistan

Human Rights Watch says at least 22 teachers killed by suspected militants between January 2008 and October 2010.

Express December 14, 2010


A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) details the impact of militancy on education in Balochistan, already in a dire state because of low enrolment rates, missing infrastructure and low literacy rates.

The report, titled ‘Their Future at Stake’ documents the killings of at least 22 teachers and other education personnel between January 2008 and October 2010. Militant groups have also attacked a number of schools in Balochistan, which has impacted the education of the province’s population. The instability has led to schools only being open in Balochistan for 120 days in 2009, compared to 220 days in the rest of the country.

A senior provincial government official is quoted in the report as saying, “Education at the institutional level is an orphan institution [and] therefore it is easy to attack. The [provincial] education department lacks leadership. It is mired in corruption and bad governance. It is even incapable of utilising its annual budget.”

HRW interviewed 23 people for the report earlier this year, including three school-going teenagers.

High-profile killings such as those of the provincial minister for education Shafiq Ahmed and Balochistan University assistant professor Nazima Talib are indicators of the worsening state of affairs in the province.

As a result of the attacks on educationists, the report states that since 2008, more than 200 teachers and professors have either transferred to Quetta or left the process and almost 200 others are in the process of transferring.

A senior civil servant told HRW, “Many of these teachers were threatened, others were scared and the government can do little to encourage them to stay in these districts. When it comes to transfer requests on the basis of a threat to life, we don’t have an excuse to turn them down.” Another senior government official said that many teachers assume they are at risk and so request transfers, even if they are from areas where there have been no attacks on educational institutions or teachers. To compound the situation, the lack of qualified replacements is also contributing to the state and quality of education.

Threats and attacks are carried out by a variety of groups, according to the report, including nationalist groups that threaten schools against hoisting the Pakistan flag, singing the national anthem or teaching Pakistan Studies.

Religiously-motivated groups such as the Harkatul Mujahideen have warned schools against co-education and ‘western-style’ uniforms. The killings of educationists are believed to be part of a pattern of ‘target killings’ of ethnicities such as Punjabis by militant nationalist groups.

The launching ceremony for HRW’s report was held in Islamabad at a local hotel. Salima Hashmi from HRCP Punjab, Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher, Kamran Arif, HRCP bureau member and Hussain Naqvi from HCRP, Lahore were the panellists present on the occasion.

“It is a clear and serious violation of human rights and, according to the international laws, it is termed a ‘war crime’,” said Ali Dayan.

HRW’s second report will document the “pattern of involvement by security forces in the enforced disappearances of the ethnic Baloch in the province”.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2010.


Ameer Hamza | 12 years ago | Reply Baloch nationalists want Punjabis to be out of their province. They view Punjabis - all of them - to be part of a larger plan to control the resources of their country. And they have good reason to say that. Since the last 40 years or so, Punjabi-dominated army, police and minerals' ministry have exploited their lands in collusion with the local sardars. Now that they have some understanding of international geo-politics they want their piece of cake back. In fact most Baloch are asking for the entire cake and the ultimate separation from Pakistan. Knowing no better way to kick force Punjabis out, they have resorted to killing of all non-Baloch and non-Pashtun. In that case they've killed lots of Urdu-speaking families as well. Teachers, most of whom were Punjabis until recently, have been the major target of these nationalists like BLA and BLM. This is likely to continue until a genuine understanding of Baloch mind is not done. And I can tell you, as a traveller to the province, that this is not being done. Killing of Bughti, a very pro-Pakistan sardar, was the last straw. And although ordered by a Mohajir General rather than a Punjabi one (Musharraf was the mohajir general) this murder of the iconic and laconic sardar was the last nail. Balochistan is on its way to becoming another East Pakistan. Instead of calling Baloch a black, uneducated lot, we must bring him to the mainstream and return his resources on which he has the right and not the Punjabi-dominated minerals' ministry.
Tax Payer | 12 years ago | Reply "The education sector has been targeted disproportionately because militants view them as representatives of the Pakistani state and symbols of perceived Punjabi military oppression, HRW said." What a pity? How they are going to progress and develop themselves when they have this stae of mind. No matter if their so called leaders are educated from elite schools of Pakistan or US or Uk - their mentality remains uncouth, uneducated and yokel and so of their followers!! What a pity? Equally responsible are educational institutions from where these so called leaders have come-they did not try to change the B-RAIN of the lords.
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