Baloch woman’s killing allegedly by govt evokes widespread anger

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NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: The killing of a young woman allegedly by the members linked to the ruling party in Balochistan last week has triggered widespread anger among the Baloch people.

The president of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) and former chief minister Akhtar Mengal attacked Pakistan’s judiciary saying it has abdicated its responsibility to hold the provincial government accountable for its crimes in Balochistan.

Akhtar was referring to a woman, Maliknaz who was killed and her four-year-old baby girl, Bramsh, shot at in Dannok tehsil of Turbat city in Balochistan last Tuesday.

The entire operation was carried out allegedly by the members of a death squad of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), the ruling party of Balochistan.

Founded in 2018 by some members of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), the BAP emerged as the largest party with 19 seats in Balochistan in the 2018 general elections in Pakistan. The BAP heads a coalition government in the province with Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and is also a part of the ruling coalition headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Pakistan National Assembly.

Akhtar is the son of Ataullah Mengal, who was the first democratically elected chief minister of Balochistan in 1972. Ataullah’s government was overthrown just nine months after he took over and was sent to jail on the charges of sedition by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government.

In 1997, the BNP swept the elections and formed a coalition government in Balochistan with Akhtar as the chief minister. However, his government was also dismissed due to his differences with Islamabad.

Ever since, the BNP, which seeks greater autonomy for Balochistan province through peaceful and democratic struggle, hasn’t participated in any elections.

On Sunday Akhtar Mengal tweeted tagging Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan saying: “It’s not a crime to kill innocent children, young students, elderly, and women in Balochistan. Will there ever be justice for Bramsh and her mother. Or will the Baloch people be left at the mercy of the establishment’s proxies.”

The incident has evoked widespread anger among human rights activists abroad, too.

Senge Hasnan Sering, the Washington DC-based Director of the Gilgit-Baltistan National Congress, a diaspora group formed in 2010 to raise awareness of rights violations in the G-B region, tweeted, “My heart goes to 4-year-old Bramsh. Her mom was shot/killed by military-backed terrorists. A bullet also broke her shoulder.

“Asks for mom every time she regains consciousness. Shameless Pakistanis who don’t care about equal rights for Baloch now obsessed with racial equality in the USA.”