The Burnt Malalas of Balochistan

Yousaf Ajab Baloch

Victims of Quetta bus bomb blastThe 16, June 2013 was a day for severe suffering for the parents in Balochistan, when they were receiving burnt dead bodies of their daughters, whilst the rest of the world was gifting flowers to their fathers on world father’s day. Even as fathers with immeasurable pain and anguish were trying to identify their daughters’ dead bodies those had been burnt in 15th June’s suicide attack in students bus of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University, The only women university in the city of Quetta with 3000 female students, established in March 2004.

The bloody incident occurred on 15th June when about 40 students and teachers from English, Mathematics and other departments were in the bus, waiting to go home after classes. It was the last day of their examination and that was regular day ,though, usually SBK remains off but that day due to papers it was on. A Woman bomber got in the bus and detonated her causing the extensive damage and killings. Twenty-two women were injured by the powerful blast. After the attack when the injured were shifted to the Bolan Medical Complex, a male suicide bomber and other heavily armed militants struck the building and fired indiscriminately.

In result of multiple strikes death toll rose to 26. The students who could not escaped martyred in the bus were identified as Shagofta Jamali, Reyana Aurangzaib, Seyda Noor-ul-Hain, Sajila Shajahan, Mevish Asif Bangulzai, Seydtahia Bibi, Sadaf Murad Baloch, Abida Baloch, Soman Magasi, Zehra Ahmed Kakar, Nadia Durani, Hirah Javid Rajpot. At least 12 people including four militants, four nurses and the deputy commissioner of Quetta were killed in the nearly four hour’s siege of the complex where the injured students were brought for treatment.

The banned sectarian militant Organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for 15th June attacks on the bus and at the Bolan Medical Complex, counting them attacks for a raid against the group by security forces.

The attack on the students is a clear message for the people of Balochistan, that already backward province in all sphere of life is clearly been occupied by religious extremists, allegedly given freehand by the secret agencies of the state. No doubt, more than 1000 people from Hazar community have been killed and thousands injured in the suicide attacks in Balochistan, mainly, in Quetta city. Prior to this the attacks were carried out against the Hazara community, whereas this time the victims were not from Hazara Community but Students of SBK women University and Suni Muslims. The attacks on Hazara community and Students are condemnable.

The question rises on the freedom of religious extremists in Quetta city and it ratifies the allegations of victims of this religious extremism, that they are encouraged by the state patronized elements. It is being thought-out whether the state has failed, it is blackmailed by extremists or deliberately it is planned to now start killing Baloch female students to frighten others to give-up their education career.

According to a lecturer and some students of the institution the dead students and injured ones belonged to middle class families and some of them are daughters of daily waged workers, who are now unable to bear their medical expenses.

Balochistan, with the smallest population with a poor literacy rate is marked for backwardness; educating female is not less than a dream. The education backwardness or poor development is because of unequal opportunities and deficient interest of federation. Though it is claimed that tribal system is the biggest hurdle in the way of development of Baloch yet, the tribal people have always been part of government and pampered babies of establishment. On the other hand the religious groups have been creating obstacles for the development of not only female education but also education of male. The female students, who were attacked, belonged to far flung areas of Balochistan. The courage of their parents must be eulogized who sent their draughts to get education because their daughters are also models for other women in Balochista.

In fact, the students who are getting education in Balochistan are the Malalas of this land, Malalas Yousaf Zai is famous for her struggle in female education in tribal areas, On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus and she received international attention .But the questions raise why the national and International human rights organizations are silent on this incident, which extraordinarily supported Malalas case. The international human rights organizations , media groups are rally to be censured who claim to be human rights defenders but their silences on the burnt Malalas in Balochistan becomes questionable. Even UN secretary general sufficed only with a statement against ugly attack.

It becomes responsibility of state to ensure protection of common people; apparently we witness failure of state in the protection of common people, mainly, the female where development of a state is contingent to the development of women. The horrible extremism must come to an end now. The Amnesty international, Human Rights Watch, Asian human Right, and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan should not consider it enough only reporting the violence but they ought to pressurize state to bring the perpetrators to the book.

I conclude my write-up with poem of Nausheen Qambrani , a well-known Baloch poetess and an English language lecturer at the Sardar Bahdur Khan Women University in Quetta, She has written this poem after being in process of identifying the burnt dead bodies and losing her students.

The history dried, religions melted…
Wisdom burnt, civilizations buried…
Lord of darkness dances around
Spaces tremble on the evil’s sound,
O’ killer of innocence, you turn to existence,
Look your face in the blood of mirror,
You find yourself just a pagan,
May be a Shia, may be a christen
Follower of wit or follower of love,
Follower of dove…
Had you felt the touch of earth,
You’d have known the pain of birth

Published in The Baloch Hal on June 23, 2013

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