The widespread shutdown and wheel jam strike across the Makran division of Balochistan over the killing of Balaach Mola Bakhsh in an encounter by the counter-terrorism forces draws attention to the severity of the issue. The Baloch Yakjehti Council (BYC) who is leading the protest and sit-in along with Balaach’s family has expressed an intention to expand protests across the province. The protesters demand an FIR and subsequent accountability for this killing that they term as “extrajudicial.” The fact that this sit-in has the support of local people points us to the unaddressed problems of the province.
Neglect should not be the way to deal with concerns that have led these people to stage a sit-in for the last six days. Deep-seated grievances and unmet needs are propelling such protests. Whoever killed Balaach and on whatever charges must be brought to public knowledge. Most of all, the family of the deceased deserves to know. If not discussed and settled, the issue will spread to other parts of the provinces as well. Strikes are bad news for day-to-day economics. In the ongoing strike, Makran division remained cut-off from Karachi and Quetta.
As much as the sit-in is a collective mourning, it is also a strong quest for justice. Having the support of human rights activists, local business community as well as political workers, Balaach’s family wants to know why he was killed in cold blood. Such massive local support hints at the general sentiment of resentment in the province. Balochistan’s broader challenges and complexities must be paid heed to.
The government should ensure that the provincial authorities take into account the sentiments of locals. Legal process is a fundamental right and no one should be deprived of it. In addition to this one incident, Balochistan’s issues need to be addressed. A nuanced and comprehensive approach must be adopted and the province’s youth must be protected from such encounters.