Balochistan: Religion gaining more space due to military’s supression of nationalists

On 23 August 2017, the residence of Dr. Mohammad Issa Pir Jan was set on fire by armed militants in Washbod village of district Panjgur, according to reports.

“They broke the doors and windows of the house and set it on fire after damaging the rooms from all sides”, say locals. “It is second time his house is set ablaze. And by the same group”.

 

On 28 August 2017, a vehicle carrying passengers, travelling from Gechk, Panjgur to Koh-e Murad, Turbat was attacked with a remote control bomb by a religious extremist group. Two persons, identified as, Nakam Huda Bakhsh and Mohammad Khan Shadin were reportedly killed in the blast and two others critically injured.

According to the locals, these groups, being heavily armed roam freely in towns and villages and hence are active, even in presence of the security forces.

A report emerged in October 2016, in which a student leader, Khumar Baloch was attacked by ISIS in district Awaran of Balochistan. He escaped the attack by running away in opposite side, but the military blocked the way and opened fire. As Khumar Baloch was confirmed died, both the ISIS and military took their own ways back.

There have been a series of target killing in Balochistan by religious groups. The list of killed persons include Professor Saba Dashtyari, an intellectual, who campaigned the right of self-determination for indigenous people of Balochistan and Zahid Askani, an educationist, trying to promote secular education in Balochistan through his chain of private schools.

Nationalists call these armed groups as state backed death squads, which are, according to them, formed by Pakistan’s security establishment to counter the secular Baloch movement.

The persons reappearing from enforced disappearance are coming back with a handful long beard, shaven head and moustache, keeping cuffs of the shalwar, till the knee bone is seen.

“He prays five times a day since he has came back. Never late. He was not interested in God and religion at all”. Says one of the victim’s family member about the change in a disappeared and reappeared graduate student.

“They have not forced me to pray, when I was abducted in 2005”, says a victim. “But I was going close to lose my faith and accept Islam”, he says and laughed. He is a Zikri by birth and none by nature. “You are allowed in washroom for hardly 35-40 seconds, you cannot lock the door in, there’s no lock in it. Someone will drag you out within forty seconds with the chains locked with your both feet. Even you do not have any single moment to wind yourself up. However, if you pray, you may be allowed to take your time in washroom. Because you need to clean yourself properly for a prayer… And it’s a big relief in a dark torture cell”, he says.

“You are normally not allowed to make any sound to hear even your own voice. But if you are interested in reciting the Qurán, they would allow you as long as reasonable”, he says.

“Gradually, you start believing that there is a true God, who is listening to me and giving me comfort, as much as I, may be deserve.”

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