Growing violence in Balochistan amidst Covid-19

by RABIA BALOCH rabiafarooq_baloch@yahoo.com

On the one hand, the authoritarian regime claims to have defeated the prevailing COVID-19 with unity, but on the other hand, the democracies instead of fighting over the pandemic, are facing the menace of sectarian disputes, communal violence and racism. The USA is confronting the new wave of racism, after the unjustified homicide of George Floyd by the hands of American Police officers. And in Pakistan, particularly Balochistan is under a threat of communal violence after the incident of Hazara Town, where Bilal was brutally killed and two of his other friends were seriously injured in a mob on a minor issue. This incident provoked people to come on the streets and demand justice for Bilal; ignoring the SOPs set by the Government to maintain the social distance.

What causes these protestors both in Pakistan and the USA to ignore all the safety measures set to avoid the spread of the Corona Virus, is perturbing. Notably, the reported Corona Virus cases are more than 7.8 Million, which has taken more than 400,000 lives across the globe. In this time of health crisis, where the other nations are united and are on one page, sadly the spirit of nationalism in Pakistan is missing, which is the need of an hour to combat the adversities of COVID-19.

Authorities that are determined to curb the impacts of the virus are left with no choice but to extend their attention towards the growing ferocity, particularly in Balochistan. The recent mob in Hazara town, homicide of Jibran, and attack on Bramsh’s family display the demise of Human Rights. But this is not the first time that violations of Human Rights have occurred, The Human Rights Commission reports thousands of cases every year. However, these particular issues have triggered the citizens who assembled and protested on road demanding justice of Bramsh, Jibran and Bilal. Arguably, it is the right of every citizen to peacefully protest in a democratic society. But, the Government must have avoided such assemblies of people, where the Corona Virus has spread in society. But an attempt to implement the SOPs is not enough unless the Government has made a Legislation to fight the COVID19 on the national level. Feeling the gap of leadership, the Supreme Court has taken Suo Moto and emphasized to make legislation on a national level that lays down all the law in the fight against Corona.

Moreover, it could be argued that unity among masses is also required to counter coronavirus, but the incident of Hazara town is fostering the seed sectarian violence in Balochistan that is more dangerous than the novel coronavirus. The mob lynching in Hazara town led to the sectarian crisis and social media further deteriorated the situation, resulting in the shutdown of 3G/4G services in Quetta for a day, again depriving the who city from its fundamental right to use the internet. And such a decision of the Government would further isolate the masses in a lockdown.

In the current scenario, the constructive role of social media is also worth discussing. Historically, the media has played a very essential role in the stability of the country, but such a role was seen missing in these circumstances. Firstly, the issues related to Balochistan which are worth discussing are sometimes ignored. On the other hand, Twitter and Facebook feed are overfilled with violent images that give the impression of lawlessness, thus public take the law into their own hands.

The murder of Jibran is a clear instance that shows the prevailing extremism in our society. In multiple incidents over minor issues, people bypass the relevant institutions and take control of the law.  Along with coronavirus the disease of violence also needs to be addressed and cured. The present chaos needs the undivided attention of the competent authority without any shadow of a doubt. To fight the pandemic we have to sow the seed of unity and tolerance as division based on ethnicity would hamper the stability of the country.

 Apart from the protests, Pakistan is also coming across other serious issues that also need immediate attention. For instance, the attack of locust which has destroyed the agriculture lands at large and adversely affected the bread and butter of thousands of framers’ homes. In addition to that, the shortage of petrol in whole Pakistan also added fuel to the fire and the government still failed to address these issues and several people demonstrated against the issues, but all in vain. However, it could be argued that Pakistan is fighting to bring back to gain its internal peace, but whether she can fight is questionable. Most of the developed countries having excellent health facilities like the USA, Russia and  UK seems helpless in regards to fight Covid19. But on the other part of the globe, in Pakistan, the health devastation and economic debacle are harmoniously posing a serious threat to the stability of the country.

Pakistan is surrounded by a sectarian Iran, unstable Afghanistan and arch-rival India, therefore, at the time of crisis, the State cannot afford domestic instability at any cost. It is a high time to prioritize internal peace and unity as a national interest of Pakistan. The spirit of nationalism that resulted in the independence of Pakistan needs a revival to settle the ongoing havoc. Nevertheless, Pakistan being an underdeveloped country is fighting many internal issues along with Covid19. But in these circumstances, it is also important for the State to also gain the trust of the citizens. Homicides are common in many developed countries but what is missing is a strong prosecution and speedy trials to bring the accused to justice. 

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