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Nationalist, sectarian and militant networks are killing teachers in Balochistan – HRW Report

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Nationalist, sectarian and militant networks are killing teachers, damaging education and limiting development in Balochistan, a US-based rights group said Monday.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at least 22 teachers and other education professionals were killed by suspected militants between January 2008 and October 2010 in the province of Balochistan.

Since 2008, more than 200 teachers have transferred to either Quetta, or have moved out of the province. Nearly another 200 are in the process of transferring, the group said.

Balochistan has, this year, seen a surge in separatist violence, sectarian attacks and killings blamed on the Taliban or other militant groups.

“To educate or to seek education in Balochistan today means risking your life and your family’s,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“By perpetrating such atrocities, Baloch nationalists are harming Balochistan’s development instead of advancing it,” he added.

Killing teachers, harming students and targeting schools “only increase Baluchistan’s problems and deprive its youth of the benefits of education,” said HRW in its new 40-page report documenting dozens of attacks.

Fearing for their safety, many teachers have sought transfers, further burdening what is already the worst educational system in Pakistan in terms of education opportunities and outcomes,” the report said.

The education sector has been targeted disproportionately because militants view them as representatives of the Pakistani state and symbols of perceived Punjabi military oppression, HRW said.

In ethnic Baloch areas, schools are often understaffed, so any further loss of teachers severely jeopardises children’s chances of an education.

HRW also said that many teachers who stay on the job complain about being so preoccupied by security that their teaching has been adversely affected.

In October, Amnesty International called on Pakistan to investigate the alleged torture and killing of more than 40 Baloch political leaders and activists against a backdrop of Pakistani military activities in the province.

Source: Express Tribune

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Abdul Nishapuri


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  • Hapless Victims
    By Abdul Wahab 26 JUNE 2010

    The recent attacks on women, once the most respected segment of Baloch society, are a clear manifestation of the degeneration of life in Balochistan. In the month of April, not only did a female assistant professor at the University of Balochistan lose her life in a target killing but also five women were injured in incidents of acid-throwing.

    Acid-throwing attacks on women are a new phenomenon in the Baloch-populated areas of life in Balochistan. The first incident of acid-throwing occurred in Dalbandin, 325 kilometers away from Quetta, where on April 13, unknown persons threw acid on two girls. The girls were identified as 13-year-old Gul Begum and 11-year-old Dur Jamal.

    “It was around 10 p.m, when the bazaars of the area close down,” Dur Jamal told journalists in Quetta. “When some donkeys strayed close to our tent, I came out to try to drive them away. Suddenly two masked men riding a motorcycle appeared, and threw acid on me. When my sister heard me screaming, she rushed out and that is when the attackers threw acid on her face too,” she added.

    An organisation by the name of the Baloch Ghairatmand Tanzeem claimed responsibility for the acid-throwing attacks. They warned women against coming out of their houses unaccompanied by a male member, or else they would suffer the same fate. Prior to this incident, pamphlets threatening women were circulated in Quetta , Nushki, Dalbandin and Kalat.

    Another acid-throwing attack took place in Kalat town, 150 kilometres south of Quetta. Three sisters, two of them in their teens, received serious wounds on their faces. The victims were identified as 20-year-old Fatima , 14-year-old Sakina and eight-year-old Saima. They were on their way home when two masked men on a motorcycle threw acid on them and fled.

    These incidents have left women in Baloch-populated areas in a state of fear, and they now avoid going to market places in the Sariab area of Quetta.

    All political and religious forces that have a say in the Baloch-populated areas of the province have strongly condemned incidents of acid-throwing. In fact hardliner nationalist forces are holding the government agencies responsible for these attacks. “When the rulers launched a military operation in Balochistan, for the first time women also came on the roads to protest against it. This was a great source of trouble for the government, therefore its agencies adopted a new strategy, to throw acid on women, so that they would be confined to their homes,” the hardliner nationalist leader Dr Allah Nazar Baloch said in a recent interview.

    The provincial government termed these allegations baseless and Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Khan Raisani expressed a firm resolve to bring the perpetrators of the acid-throwing attacks to justice. But a month has gone by and there has been no breakthrough in the investigation, nor have any arrests been made so far.

    Amidst protests against acid-throwing, a female assistant professor of the University of Balochistan (UOB), Nazima Talib, was killed in Quetta. Settler teachers were being targeted in Balochistan following the launch of the operations but this was the first time that a female teacher became a victim of target killing.

    After completing her education in Karachi, Nazima Talib had joined the University of Balochistan. She had been affiliated with the mass communications department of the university for 22 years.

    Targeting a woman is contrary to the tribal traditions of Balochistan and Talib’s killing was condemned by all except the hardliner Baloch nationalist groups.

    The defunct Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for killing Nazima Talib in retaliation for the acid attacks on Baloch women in Dalbandin and Kalat, the alleged firing of law- enforcement agencies on a gathering of women in Mand and the killing of a Baloch woman in a police raid in the Sariab area of Quetta. Nationalist forces held the police responsible for her death, but police authorities have denied the charge.

    Senseless killing: Nazima Talib

    Nazima’s murder has frightened the teachers’ community, particularly those teaching at the University of Balochistan. A majority of the over 300 teachers affiliated with the university are from the Punjab and Sindh. “Over 22 teachers have left the university due to the prevalent situation in the province, while 70 others have requested transfers to the Punjab and Sindh,” says Professor Kalim Barech, president of the academic staff association of the Balochistan University. “Our coming generations will not forgive us, if we fail to protect able teachers for them.”

    Expressing serious concern over the target killings of teachers, Professor Barech suggested convening a grand tribal jirga of both Baloch and Pashtun elders so that teachers who have nothing to do with political and administrative decisions are safeguarded.

    Balochistan University has lost three senior teachers so far in incidents of target killings. Despite requests for transfers, the university administration was reluctant to issue NOCs to the teachers, but after Nazima Talib’s murder, the pressure has mounted and the administration has relaxed its policy on the issuance of NOCs, exposing the largest university of the province to a serious academic crisis.

    The organisations and groups claiming responsibility for these attacks all have one thing in common: they are anti-army and government. This is reminiscent of how militant groups started their atrocities against women in the Northern Areas. The onus is on the government to stop these incidents from continuing; inaction will worsen the plight of women not only in Balochistan but in the entire country.

    Abdul Wahab is a Quetta-based journalist who has been reporting on the politics and social issues of Balochistan for Newsline for over five years.

  • بلوچستان:’تعلیم کا مستقبل خطرے میں‘

    ’بلوچستان میں تعلیم تنازعات کے پیچ پھنس کر رہ گئی ہے‘

    حقوقِ انسانی کے لیے کام کرنے والی عالمی تنظیم ہیومن رائٹس واچ نے کہا ہے کہ پاکستان کے صوبے بلوچستان مسلح جنگجؤ صوبے میں تعینات اساتذہ اور تعلیم کے شعبہ سے وابستہ افراد کے خلاف کارروائیاں فوری طور پر بند کریں کیونکہ ان کارروائیوں بلوچ طالب علموں کا نقصان ہو رہا ہے۔

    بلوچستان میں تعلیمی مشکلات کے حوالے اپنی ایک رپورٹ میں تنظیم نے کہا ہے کہ جنوری سنہ 2008 سے اکتوبر سنہ 2010 کے دوران بلوچستان میں بائیس اساتذہ اور دیگر تدریسی عملہ مختلف حملوں میں مارا گیا ہے۔

    کلِک تفصیلی رپورٹ پڑھنے کے لیے کلک کریں

    چالیس صفحات پر مشتمل یہ رپورٹ پیر کو جاری کی گئی ہے۔

    اس رپورٹ میں بلوچستان میں کام کرنے والے اساتذہ، طلبہ، حملوں کا شکار بننے والے افراد کے لواحقین اور حکومتی عہدیداران سے بات کی گئی ہے۔

    ونڈوز میڈیا یا ریئل پلیئر میں دیکھیں/سنیں
    اس رپورٹ کے بارے میں ہیومن رائٹس واچ کے جنوبی ایشیا کے لیے محقق علی دایان حسن کا کہنا ہے کہ ’بلوچستان میں اس وقت تعلیم دینا یا حاصل کرنا اپنی زندگی خطرے میں ڈالنے کے مترادف ہے‘۔

    ان کا یہ بھی کہنا ہے کہ ’مسلح گروہوں کی پاکستانی ریاست کے خلاف شکایات اس بات کا جواز نہیں کہ وہ اساتذہ کو قتل کرتے پھریں۔اساتذہ کو مار کر، طلباء کو نقصان پہنچا کر اور سکولوں کو نشانہ بنا کر یہ جنگجو صرف بلوچستان کے مسائل میں اضافہ کر رہے ہیں‘۔

    ہیومن رائٹس واچ کا کہنا ہے کہ سنہ 2008 میں اس صورتحال کے سامنے آنے کے بعد سے دو سو سے زائد اساتذہ اور پروفیسرز یا تو صوبے کے نسبتاً محفوظ مقامات پر اپنا تبادلہ کروا چکے ہیں یا پھر انہوں نے صوبہ ہی چھوڑ دیا ہے۔یہی نہیں بلکہ مزید دو سو اساتذہ اپنے تبادلے کے لیے سرگرم ہیں۔

    بلوچستان میں اس وقت تعلیم دینا یا حاصل کرنا اپنی زندگی خطرے میں ڈالنے کے مترادف ہے۔
    علی دایان حسن
    رپورٹ کے مطابق بلوچستان میں تعلیم تنازعات کے بیچ پھنس کر رہ گئی ہے اور وہ یہ کہ علیحدگی پسند مسلح بلوچ قوم پرست پنجابیوں اور دیگر اقلیتوں کو نشانہ بنا رہے ہیں جبکہ اس کے ساتھ ساتھ شیعہ آبادی مسلح سنّی گروہوں کا نشانہ ہیں۔

    رپورٹ میں یہ بھی کہا گیا ہے کہ اگرچہ بلوچستان میں ہر شعبۂ زندگی کے افراد ان گروہوں کا نشانہ بن رہے ہیں لیکن صوبہ پنجاب سے تعلق رکھنے والے افراد خصوصاً ان کا نشانہ ہیں کیونکہ وہاں انہیں ریاست کا نمائندہ اور فوج کے جبر کی علامت سمجھا جاتا ہے۔

  • Teachers in Balochistan fearful of being targeted
    By Shahzad Baloch
    Published: May 29, 2010

    University has advised teachers to restrict their activities, change their routes.
    QUETTA: “After the target killing of Nazima Talib, a University of Balochistan professor, we are all living in fear,” a senior teacher said while speaking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity. “Teachers have restricted their activities and avoid attending events.”
    At the university, teachers and most officials were unwilling to speak to the media or discuss the issue of the targeting of teachers.
    Yet, the fear among the academic community is so strong that many teachers have requested transfers to other provinces.
    “Around 25 teachers, most of them PhDs, have left the university while 70 others have requested for transfers to Punjab and Sindh,” said Professor Kalim Barech, president of the Academic Staff Association. “Our coming generations will not forgive us if we fail to protect our teachers for them.” Over 450 teachers are affiliated with the university, the largest seat of learning in the province.
    It is not known who is behind most of the killings. Some, though, including that of Professor Talib, were claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA).
    Spokesperson of the banned BLA, Sarbaz Baloch, said on May 24 while claiming responsibility for the murder of vice-principal of Technical Training Centre in Hub Industrial Township, that they are not against education, “but we are carrying out target killings of those teachers who are spying for agencies”. He was speaking to the media from an undisclosed location. Baloch said that certain teachers spy for agencies and the Baloch do not need such teachers. He added that they are capable of teaching their youth themselves and do not need “outsiders”.
    Teachers are being targeted in Quetta, Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar and Hub as well as some other parts of the province.
    The BLA said that Professor Talib was targeted to avenge the alleged firing by law enforcing agencies on a gathering of women in Mand and the killing of a Baloch woman, Ganj Bibi, in a police raid in Saryab, Quetta.
    According to the provincial home department, 128 people, including five teachers, have lost their lives in target killings in the past five months while 782 people, including 14 teachers, have been killed in the past three years. Three of victims were University of Balochistan teachers.
    “The figure is increasing every day and people are feeling insecure and restricting their activities to home and office,” said a Quetta-based security expert.
    The official version
    In a recent interview with The Express Tribune, Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said that target killings are a political and administrative problem. “The phenomenon commenced soon after Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing in August 2006,” he said. “It has refused to come to an end four years later. Criminals choose ‘soft targets’ such as teachers and barbers, as they fear being arrested if they enter a highly-guarded area. But the recent killing of a woman professor in Quetta has attracted considerable attention from people living in all parts of Balochistan.”
    Durrani suggested “foreign involvement” in target killings. “During interrogations, it was revealed that perpetrators crossed the Afghan border for training.”
    “Many police teams have been formed under the leadership of DIG Investigations to curb the chain of target killers. So far, a large number of suspects have been apprehended,” Durrani said. He complained, however, of not having the required equipment, such as mobile detectors to trace phone calls.
    “When information reaches the police regarding any crime, they have to go through federal forces to identify the place from where the call was made. We are in the process of purchasing this technology. [Once we have] this facility, we are confident we will be able to [track] criminals,” said Durrani.
    Capital City Police Officer, Ghulam Shabir Sheikh, said that six suspects, allegedly belonging to the banned Lashker-e-Jhangvi, have been apprehended during the past five months. According to Sheikh, they were involved in sectarian killings. “When the police carry out raids and arrest any suspects, some political parties start protesting and the suspects are freed,” said Sheikh, calling this political interference the “main hurdle” faced by the police in tackling crime.
    Grand jirga
    Expressing concern over the targeting of teachers, Professor Barech suggested the formation of a grand tribal jirga of Baloch and Pakhtun elders so that teachers, who have nothing to do with the political and administrative decisions regarding Balochistan, could be protected.
    Meanwhile, another official of the university, on the condition of anonymity said that the climate is not as fearful as the media is portraying it to be. According to him, some teachers want to move for better opportunities while a lot of people, including settlers, are still applying for university posts. He did, however, add that teachers have been asked to restrict their activities and change their route every day.
    Senior Vice President of the National Party, Senator Hasil Bizenjo, held the provincial government responsible for the situation, saying that the government had failed to arrest a single criminal. “There is no justification to remain in power because people are being killed, robbed and looted with complete impunity,” he said. In fact, he added, instead of normalising the situation, the government is arresting the wrong people and the numbers of missing persons are increasing, leading to further agitation against the government.
    A senior journalist from Balochistan, Shahzada Zulfiqar, said that the killing of teachers will push the Baloch nation towards backwardness. “It is a reaction to the deprivation of 62 years during which Balochistan was denied ownership of its resources,” he said. “There must be a permanent solution which is obviously self determination. Balochistan Package o r any other development works will not pacify the enraged Baloch youth.”
    According to Zulfiqar, the insurgents are choosing “soft targets” to draw attention to the Baloch movement.
    Published in the Express Tribune, May 29th, 2010.

    Munawar Rind
    May 29, 2010 – 9:02AM
    Where is Baloch Dignity and Gairatt? They even considered the burial of women as there tradition, why would they care about teachers specially female teachers who left their families behind just to educate BaLoch student, while Baloch in return, offering them bullets in their chests….Shame On Such Balochs!!! I pray every baloch may not have same attitude!!!!

  • However, gross human rights abuses are not limited to the army. As the conflict drags on, the insurgents have become increasingly brutal and ruthless. In the past two years, militants have kidnapped aid workers, killed at least four journalists and, most disturbingly, started to target “settlers” – unarmed civilians, mostly from neighbouring Punjab, many of whom have lived in Balochistan for decades. Some 113 settlers were killed in cold blood last year, according to government figures – civil servants, shopkeepers, miners. On 21 March, militants riding motorbikes sprayed gunfire into a camp of construction workers near Gwadar, killing 11; the Baloch Liberation Front claimed responsibility. Most grotesque, perhaps, are the attacks on education: 22 school teachers, university lecturers and education officials have been assassinated since January 2008, causing another 200 to flee their jobs.

    As attitudes harden, the middle ground is being swept away in tide of bloodshed. “Our politicians have been silenced,” says Habib Tahir, a human rights lawyer in Quetta. “They are afraid of the young.” I ask a student in Quetta to defend the killing of teachers. “They are not teachers, they work for the intelligence agencies,” one student tells me. “They are like thieves coming into our homes. They must go.”

    Before leaving Quetta I meet Faiza Mir, a 36-year-old lecturer in international relations at Quetta’s Balochistan University. Militants have murdered four of her colleagues in the past three years, all because they were “Punjabi”. Driving on to the campus, she points out the spots where they were killed, knowing she could be next.

    “I can’t leave,” says Mir, a sparky woman with an irrepressible smile. “This is my home too.” And so she engages in debate with students, sympathising with their concerns. “I try to make them understand that talk is better than war,” she says.

    But some compromises are impossible. Earlier on, students had asked Mir to remove a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father, from her office wall. Mir politely refused, and Jinnah – an austere lawyer in a Savile Row suit – still stares down from her wall.

    But how long will he stay there? “That’s difficult to say,” she answers.

    Pakistan’s secret dirty war
    In Balochistan, mutilated corpses bearing the signs of torture keep turning up, among them lawyers, students and farm workers. Why is no one investigating and what have they got to do with the bloody battle for Pakistan’s largest province?

    Declan Walsh, Tuesday 29 March 2011


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