On target killings of Punjabi teachers in Balochistan


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Punjabi settlers biggest victims of Bugti aftermath

* Civil society in Balochistan has remained silent over killings due to fear of nationalist backlash
* Pashtuns parting ways with dominant Baloch allies following violence

By Malik Siraj Akbar

QUETTA: The sympathies that the Baloch nationalist movement had acquired during the rule of former president Pervez Musharraf now seem to be diminishing, following the targeted killings of Punjabi teachers, professors and principals in the province.

The recent killings of three principals and a schoolteacher in less than two months came as a shock for the entire nation, especially due to their ethnic nature.

While the Taliban in the NWFP have resorted to torching girls’ schools in order to deprive a generation of Pashtun girls from education, a nationalist militant group in Balochistan is currently bent on targeting and killing Punjabi educationists to push the province back into medieval times.

Fear: Unlike the situation in the NWFP, the civil society in Balochistan has remained a silent spectator, simply out of fear. When Musharraf’s government launched a military operation against Baloch leaders and killed Nawab Akbar Bugti, a chorus of condemnation rang out in support of the Baloch people from all corners of society. The Baloch leadership was assured complete support by politicians, intellectuals and scholars of other provinces.

However, it seems the biggest victims of Bugti killing’s aftermath have been Punjabi settlers in Balochistan.

Militant groups in Balochistan had earlier asked Punjabis to leave the province, a warning not taken seriously until a number of Punjabis were killed.

As things stand today, property rates in Punjabi-dominated localities of Quetta have fallen remarkably as Punjabis hastily sell their homes to try and escape the insurgency-hit province.

In the second phase, which commenced with the killing of three Baloch leaders in Turbat in April this year, a hitherto unknown militant segment of the Baloch nationalist movement has warned schoolteachers and principals to refrain from playing the national anthem and hoisting the national flag on official buildings. In case of non-compliance, the violators have been threatened with death.

In the backdrop of these challenges, the principals of Balochistan Residential College at Khuzdar, Government Commerce College Quetta and Government Pilot Secondary School Mastung, all Punjabis, have been killed, while the provincial government watches silently.

Distancing: As the killings of teachers intensify, the Pashtuns, who constitute the second largest ethnic group in Balochistan, appear to part ways with their erstwhile political allies, the dominant Baloch people. Pashtun political parties have vocally opposed the target killings in Quetta and demanded the Baloch nationalists openly condemn these killings and disassociate themselves with the elements responsible.

Similarly, members of civil society, human rights activists and intellectuals from other provinces have been perturbed by these targeted killings.

Such friends of Balochistan are now reasserting a “calculated support” to the Baloch case against the state, rather than their “unconditional support” to the aggrieved Baloch people.

“The government, as well as the Baloch civil society, has observed criminal silence over the targeted killings of Punjabi teachers,” complains a senior professor at the University of Balochistan.

“If Punjabi professors and professionals are not protected and compelled to leave Balochistan, many key institutions in the province will remain shut or at least dysfunctional.” He said the government and nationalists ought to separate education from politics. “Teachers serve the humanity regardless of their own religious, national, lingual and racial affiliations. They need protection and respect if a society is keen to progress,” he stated.

It was learnt that at least 14 teachers of the Balochistan Residential College, all Punjabis, have requested for transfers. There have also been similar reports of several PhD-holders prominent professors at the University of Balochistan planning to permanently leave the province.

If Balochistan is to be prevented from utter chaos, experts recommend, all the stakeholders in Balochistan and Islamabad should urgently keep politics aside and devise a strategy to protect Balochistan’s teachers. “If the government and the nationalists fail to sit together and address this dire situation, Balochistan’s educational institutions will be deserted for good. The major loser, if such a situation emerges, would be Baloch children, not Punjab, whom the Baloch nationalists hold responsible for everything,” an education expert said.

6 Responses to “On target killings of Punjabi teachers in Balochistan”
  1. Baloch says:

    wow! such a simplistic viewpoint.

    Punjabi teachers in Balochistan = at least a few thousands

    Punjabi teachers in Balochistan killed by baloch = less than 5.

    Maybe they weren’t really ‘teachers’, but the intelligence agents, disguised as teachers. Ever wondered why it is the Baloch students who are mostly in jails in balochistan?

    I refuse to accept the notion that those killed were ‘innocents’. i support BLA or BRA version that these punjabi teachers weren’t there to educate us, but just another face of occupation enablers. or is that a far-fetched idea?

    Thanks for coming back to your blog.

  2. Talha Masud says:

    When one doesn’t agree out of pride and blame the people who lost their lives while serving the students beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, then I can only feel very sad on this ethnocentrism.

  3. Baloch says:

    Hi Malikjan,


    Taliban joining Jundullah? what kind of news is this?

    Your journalism is getting a little yellowish.

    • gmcmissing says:

      @Baloch: Thank you for the ‘yellowish’ fatwa. Jundullah has always been an anti-Shia militant Sunni force. It has never had nationalistic ambitions. Therefore, the Jundullah-Taliban nexus does not surprise me.

  4. Baloch says:

    Nope. Jundullah isn’t nationalist, but also it ain’t as religious as it pretends. It primarily lives on Baloch Vs Gujjar issue, and secondarily on sunni-shia rift.

    Jundullah-Taliban nexus is the perception Iran wants to promote, because Iran is against Taliban, who also happenn to be Sunni. So Iran is branding the fight as a Sunni-Sunni alliance Vs Shia.

    Brother Talha, may i know the source of your confidence that none of those innocent teacher was a intelligence operative?

  5. Talha Masud says:

    @ Baloch

    Brother, if there had been any reliable source of these teachers being the intelligence informers or a friend like Qamber Chakar accused to be a part of any armed-resistant organization, we would not have been giving our speculations. This is what needs to be addressed: Neither any political campaigner can be a part of insurgency nor any teacher-like element can ever be a party to the malicious activities of intelligence agencies.

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