Human rights activist Karima Baloch was a vocal critic of the Pakistani government. Like many others in Balochistan, the activist had extensively campaigned for the separation of Balochistan from Islamabad. She took an active role in highlighting the issue of disappearances and human rights violations in the troubled Balochistan province.
The province, located in the southwestern region of Pakistan, has been the world’s longest-running insurgencies as they fight the Pakistani army.
Who are Balochs ? Why are they fighting ?
Balochs are the Sunni Muslims and speak Balochis, a northwestern Iranian language. They are the Kurds of South Asia. Today they are split between countries of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The community has 44% of its population concentrated in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
The core issue of the armed movement has since been the hyper dominance of Punjabis in Pakistan’s weak federal structure.
The movement is considered to be the “most under-rated armed movement”. However, the issue gained pace after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the issue.
In his Independence speech, PM Modi had extended support to the Balochis and said the ethnic group had thanked him and sent Indian people their wishes. The leader made the remarks to counter Pakistan “draconian actions in Balochistan”.
Days after the speech, Karima Baloch had released a recorded video message for the PM on Rakshabandhan seeking his support for the Baloch cause.
Fearing threats to her life for targeting the Pakistani government, Karima had fled to Canada to take political asylum. The 37-year-old was found dead in Canada’s Toronto, days after she went missing on December 20, The Balochistan Post reports.
What is interesting to note is that this Karima Baloch is not the first Pakistani critic to have faced the mysterious death. Earlier, in March, Sajid Hussain, founder and chief editor of The Balochistan Post was found dead in Sweden.
Hussain too had fled Pakistan in 2017 seeking asylum in Sweden as he faced death threats, police raids and other harassment in his work.
Karima Baloch, an influential women: In 2016, the activist was included by BBC in their ‘BBC 100 Women 2016’ list for her activism, fighting for the rights of Balochi women.
Her death is now gaining momentum in Canada after hundreds of dissenting Pakistanis aboard took to social media, demanding for a fair probe of her alleged murder.
This comes after the Canada police are treating the death as “non-criminal death”.