Conveyor belt of dead bodies

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Balochistan’s people stopped being important long ago but it seems now the dead too do not count. Pakistan’s rulers probably think that as long as the mainstream media is forbidden to report killings in the region and the courts are silenced, Balochistan victims remain dispensable. They feel they can keep getting away with it, and more often than not they do, and this cycle repeats itself — often every week.

The bodies of women and children killed by the Frontier Corps are piling up at such an alarming rate, even by Balochistan’s standards, that one can’t help but feel horrified. When the bodies of the Hoshap victims reached Quetta on Wednesday, they were not the only ones from Turbat coming during the same week; another body, that of a child killed by the police, had travelled the same route a few days ago.

As the grieving families wait for justice, the country’s prime minister and the army chief have been arguing over who to appoint as DG ISI, and how, while the DG’s men in Balochistan Assembly remain desperate to show who is more loyal to him or who should become chief minister. The Deputy Commissioner of Kech reportedly tried to buy the bodies of the Hoshap victims for a bribe of a couple of million rupees and disrespected an elderly woman while he was at it, telling her to keep quiet as the men were talking.

The sad reality is that the events of the past weeks have not happened out of the blue; the situation has remained more or less the same for the last 20 years, and the main reason behind this is Rawalpindi’s refusal to allow the Baloch population any kind of freedom whatsoever.

Our values are ridiculed, the language is not taught in schools and demand for basic rights is thought of as an act of treason warranting lethal force. Puppets are handpicked to run Balochistan’s government with the only criterion for their selection being their absolute obedience to the generals.

An overwhelming majority of Balochistan’s population is poor that gave up on demands for a better quality of life long ago; it just wants to be left alone, in peace. The grandfather of the Hoshap victims summed up this feeling in a few simple, though painful, sentences. He said he did not want roads or facilities of health and education, he just wanted that his grandchildren were not killed so they could cook for him and shepherd his goats.

Such is the lack of human life’s value in Balochistan that the rulers were genuinely perplexed when the family refused to accept the money offered and demanded that the accused FC personnel should be tried in a court of law. How dare an old man who barely makes ends meet refuse their offer and protest for justice.

What the State really needed to do was listen to what the family members were saying, and it should have assured them that the incident would be properly investigated and those responsible for it punished. What it did instead was dismiss their claims without looking into the incident, and even tried to stop the ambulance that was carrying the bodies from Turbat to Quetta. The family is hurting and it has a right to at least cry. Is that so hard to understand?