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EditorialInjustice meted out to Baloch students

Injustice meted out to Baloch students

Society needs a new social code on how to treat members of different communities in order to eliminate the stigma of ethnic profiling of any sort. Ethnic profiling is the use of racial, ethnic, national, or religious characteristics as a way of singling out people for identity or security checks and making the whole community a target for a heinous crime committed by a few members of that particular community. It refers to law enforcement and security officers making decisions about who is suspicious based on race, ethnicity, or ethnic identity rather than reasonable suspicion. Racial profiling continues to be a prevalent and egregious form of discrimination against the Baloch community. However, after the Karachi terrorist attack, where a female suicide bomber blew herself up, citizens from a particular province have come under the radar. The fact, that the suicide bomber was a ‘scholar,’ has created a suspicion that other students of the province could also be involved in the gruesome incident. The suspicion has created more trouble for some students from Balochistan studying in Punjab and Sindh. A crackdown was launched by the security agencies against students at the Punjab University’s Quaid-e-Azam Campus and Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. Not only they are being harassed, but they are also being ‘kidnapped’ from educational institutions. An intervention by the Islamabad High Court into the matter was a much-needed action to stop such human rights violations and racial profiling of the students. Pathetically, the government is not taking serious notice of students’ disappearance from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Reportedly, Bebgar Imdad, a student of the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad, was picked up from the Punjab University and Dr Dildar Baloch, another student, was picked up from Karachi, whose whereabouts are still unknown.

In this situation, the response of the security and law enforcement agencies is very poor. Taking action without concrete evidence is tantamount to a serious violation of human rights and the constitution. Due to the pressure of security agencies, proper media coverage is not being given to these kidnappings and subsequent protests by other students. This media blackout shows the influence of ‘mighty institutions’ on national affairs as well as their modus operandi to suppress voices. It is a terrible situation and can lead to more chaos in the country. The authorities concerned, as well as the government, need to rethink this approach and devise a fair policy. They should not treat the matter of ‘enforced disappearance’ of some students with a feigned display of sorrow. Rather, they need to address the grievances of people who are facing injustice not only in their native lands but in other parts of the country. The law enforcement authorities must desist from adopting rushed solutions for clearing the mess caused by terrorism. The consequences of ‘ethnic profiling’ had resulted in the Dhaka debacle in 1971 and once again the government and the security agencies are treading the dangerous path by feigning indifference to the rights of the people of Balochistan. It is the prime responsibility of politicians, civil society and the media to condemn this malicious campaign and support the just rights of citizens and students of the province. It is high time that the government intervened and brought ‘ethnic profiling’ to an end once and for all and evolved a new social code, which should be based on justice and fair play.

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