Faisal Mengal: symbol of progressive Baloch youth

I wrote the following letter to the editor of Dawn newspaper in Pakistan which was published on January 8, 2012.

ON Dec 11, when the whole world was marking the international human rights day, a young progressive Baloch writer and social activist, Faisal Mengal, was shot dead in Karachi.

Faisal, 35, one of Balochistan’s well-known liberal voices, had spent most of his youthful time assisting victims of drought, floods and earthquake across Balochistan.

Faisal’s killing has sent shockwaves to Baloch youths who are already regularly receiving the bullet-riddled bodies of their peers from assorted parts of the conflict-stricken province.

While repeated cases of enforced disappearances, torture and murder in Balochistan of young political activists are no longer a secret, the occurrence of such gruesome killings in Karachi further suggests the state’s lackluster response to Baloch sense of insecurity.

Faisal Mengal was a forward-looking newspaper columnist in the country’s most backward province. He belonged to a middle class family of Naushki district and thus vociferously advocated empowering fellow Baloch through education.

He resisted tribal and class system and staunchly advocated equal rights and opportunities for all members of society. He was not the product of Balochistan’s much-censured tribal system. He was a self-made young Baloch who had been empowered by education. He dreamt of transforming Balochistan with knowledge and wisdom. He truly knew what empowerment of education actually meant.

Faisal and I wrote columns in the same Quetta-based Urdu-language newspaper, Daily Asaap, as young writers in an effort to educate the people of Balochistan about their civil rights and responsibilities.

He temporarily gave up writing column after joining the US Consulate in Karachi as a staffer and, subsequently, moved to Islamabad to work with Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Munich-based one of Germany’s six non-profit political organisations.

Targeted killing of enlightened Baloch youths does not bode well for the future of this country. Such progressive and talented young men are a rare breed in a province which has the lowest literacy rate in Pakistan. People like Faisal provide some hope
for an educated Balochistan and inspire the younger Baloch with their personal and professional accomplishments.

I would request governments of Sindh and Balochistan to jointly investigate the killing of one of the most intelligent Baloch writers and social workers that I had ever known.

Washington DC


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