How does one perceive the killings, disappearances and mindless torture of a people whose land is being mined of its natural resources that are carried away to power the households in other parts of the region; the indifference of the Pakistanis to the Baluchis’ right to education and medical facilities on par with “other” regions of Pakistan; and history’s track record of having forgotten the Baluchis, sidelined them for the greater cause of another nation, Pakistan?
All this can be described in one word.
Baluchistan is being run like an occupied country.
In Part 3 dear readers I shall share with you the life and times of a young Baluchi Student who was kidnapped, tortured, murdered with his bullet ridden body thrown on the road. That is, after having been abducted by the Pakistani Security Forces.
Qambar Chakar, a 24 year old Baluchi youth leader and student of The University of Baluchistan and Baluchistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS). He organized protest rallies, marched to the Governor’s House and Chief Minister’s residence, held hunger strikes for the rights of the Baluchi students.
Chakar, who had himself successfully, sought admission at the University on merit, revolted against the admission policy and called for reforms so that more Baluchi students from remote and under-privileged areas could also be admitted there. With two other student colleagues i.e. Qambar Malik Baloch and Khurshid Baloch, late Qambar Chakar sat on a fast unto death in front of the Quetta Press Club in support of his demands.
He argued ‘merit’ was a ploy to shut down the doors of higher education for Baluchi students. If open merit was the only criteria to admit students at the BUITEMS then the beneficiaries would exclusively be the urban rich kids who had attended private schools and colleges. Hence, Baluch children from far-off districts would be outnumbered by the children of non-Baluch and non-Baluchistani bureaucrats and army officers who came from a more sophisticated educational background because of their social and economic background. Chakar’s campaign was not opposed to the ‘merit’ per se. What he stood for was actually merit but at district level so that each of Baluchistan’s thirty districts could get representation at this important educational institution.
The Government of Pakistan didn’t like the Baluchi students’ uprising and used various tactics to counter their movement. They instigated the Pashtun student organizations to issue statements to the Press in support of the Government’s controversial admission policy, which was in direct conflict with the demands of the Baluchi Students’ demands of equality.
The admission policy served the Pashtun interests because all Pashtun districts, such as Pishin, Lorali, Ziarat and Qila Abdullah. These districts are very close that are close to Quetta and therefore students from these areas could attend college in the morning and return home in the evening.
On the other hand, it took someone like Qambar Chakar a three day hjourney on rough roads to reach from his native Kech district to Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. These harsh ground realities which enormously contributed to the Baloch backwardness caused Qambar to fight for his people’s right to education.
The Pakistani government attempted to push the Baluch students into a state of inferiority complex by telling them they were not compatible with contemporary educational challenges and therefore were shying away from facing the so-called open merit-based policy. However, the government did not explain why it had failed to provide the same level of education and facilities in schools in remote parts of Baluchistan like those available in Quetta.
Qambar did not lose his confidence in the wake of the official propaganda unleashed in the local media. He stood for what he truly believed in for the greater interest of Baluchistan’s future. As a part of his revolutionary campaign which was joined by hundreds of Baluch students, Qambar surrounded the Governor’s House until Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi was forced to come out to negotiate with the Baluch activist leader. The Governor offered him negotiations ‘inside the Governor’s House’, which Qambar utterly rejected saying that he would not hold secret negotiations with a government official.
“If you have to make a decision,” he told Governor Magsi, “you have to make it in front of all the students.”
Understandably, the governor, who is also the chancellor of the BUITEMS, did not concede to Qambar’s demands, nor did the latter surrender.
When the government failed to break the resolve of the young Baloch student through threats and ostentatious offers, they brazenly kidnapped Qambar on July 10, 2010 from the same educational institution where he was a student reportedly with the support of the institution’s Pashtun Vice Chancellor. The young activist was tortured, humiliated and implicated in a false case of possessing a hand grenade. Charges against him were never substantiated in court. He was detained so that he could not attend important exams. Security forces illegally detained Chakar for months. By then, he had emerged as a mature and popular student leader who once again stood for the educational rights of the Baluchi people.
He immediately returned to the political battleground, which eventually turned out to be a fatal. Incensed over his steadfastness and defiance, the security establishment eventually decided to permanently get rid of Qambar. Thus, officials kidnapped him for the second time on November 26, 2010.
He never returned.
Like hundreds of other ‘killed and dumped’ Baluchis, Qambar Chakar’s family still awaits justice. No investigation was ever conducted in his murder because those who were blamed for kidnapping and murdering him were all disappointingly the very ‘custodians of the law’.
Excerpts from Dawn and other media.