Who Killed Faisal Mengal?
Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani must exhibit leadership and protest with the government of Sindh over the killing of Faisal Mengal, a renowned Baloch writer and civil rights activist, in Karachi last week. It is the top most responsibility of our elected government to make sure that the people of this province remain safe and sound when they travel outside Balochistan to seek employment with a government or a non-governmental organization.
Baloch people also have every right to protest with their Sindhi brothers, particularly nationalist and progressive forces there, over the killing of an educated and liberal Baloch activist on their land. Sindhis and Balochs have had a long historic relationship of combined struggle to respect and guard mutual interests. Thus, the killing of a Baloch activist on Sindhi soil raises valid expectations and grievances toward the people of Sindh. What Sindhis can do at best is to pressurize their provincial government to trace and punish Faisal’s killing and refuse to allow their land for future attacks on Baloch people.
The slain Baloch social activist had a glorious career. He had worked with a number of non-profit organizations to assist people in remote areas of Balochistan. Once he improved his credentials and impressed bosses with his excellent performance, Mengal joined international organizations. He worked for the US Consulate in Karachi for around one year and then moved to Islamabad to work with Germany-based Hanns Seidel Foundation. He held the HSF position until his brutal killing.
Although educated Balochs have become a regular victim of targeted killing, Faisal’s shooting indicates some murkier signs. It is the first time that a Baloch writer and activist from Balochistan was chased and killed outside his home province. Faisal was in fact one of the most prominent Baloch writers and activists whose excellent field work had left valuable impressions across Balochistan. He was widely respected as a committed and sincere professional who reached out to hungry and poor people of Balochistan for assistance. He had extensively worked with the victims of the drought, floods in Turbat and earthquake in Ziarat. Mr. Mengal provided moral assistance and advocacy to the families of the disappeared Baloch activists. His newspaper articles created civic sense among his readers. Faisal’s all people-friendly activities appear to be the biggest source of attraction for his senseless murderers.
At this point, we have no evidence to suggest who killed Faisal Mengal but we are also sure that his killing is not a coincident. For more than one year now, the best of Baloch doctors, lawyers, journalists, students and professionals are being target killed. It is no longer a secret that the history of Bangladesh is being repeated in Balochistan where outfits similar to Al-Badar and Al-Shams are engaged in killing the best and most progressive Balochs to quell the Baloch reawakening against excesses of the federal government. Official silence on these systematic killings and lack of action against the murderers gives currency to government’s complicity in the anti-Baloch operations. Yet, we would prefer to avoid jumping into conclusions and once again propose an independent investigation into the killings of the Baloch youths.
Faisal’s killing shows how underground groups linked with the government and the intelligence agencies are forcefully dragging defenders of democracy into the conflict. At least, these forces have been blamed in the past for the killings and some also hold them responsible for masterminding Faisal’s shocking assassination. We have vociferously condemned the attacks on intellectuals and defenders of democracy. After the lapse of almost a week, the governments of Sindh and Balochistan have not given any indications that they would jointly work to debunk Faisal’s murderers.
Therefore, we want international human rights groups such as the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch to be either taken on board in a future bi-government investigation commission or they should be allowed to independently investigate Mr. Mengal’s killing. In spite of hardships, the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have done a remarkable job to track and highlight human rights violations in Balochistan. We hope they will uphold their engagement with the people of Balochistan in the future as well.
Balochistan’s civil society groups and media should also mount pressure on the Balochistan government to work with the Sindh government to probe Mengal’s killing because the people of Balochistan have almost given a totally free hand to their own elected government. When people do not call up their elected representatives and do not raise tough questions, they in fact provide the member of the parliament an opportunity to escape from their responsibilities. Such lack of communication breeds more corruption in whatever democratic system we have in place. Balochistan’s corrupt and inept government is not accountable to anyone. It is the time intellectuals and civil society activists in the province challenged the status quo and reached out to Chief Minister Raisani and asked who killed Faisal Mengal. (Courtesy: The Baloch Hal)