Karima Baloch dead: How Pakistan tries to crush dissent in Balochistan

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Published: Dec 22, 2020, 10:30 PM(IST)

Last December, Karima Baloch, a campaigner for an independent Balochistan, was found dead in Toronto, Canada. Photograph:( Twitter )

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Karima Baloch was a vocal critic of Pakistan and its army and openly highlighted the human rights violations in Balochistan

 Threats, forced disappearances and mass killings - that's how Pakistan tries to crush dissent in Balochistan.

The state-sponsored campaign of oppression has forced many to leave homeland Balochistan even as lakhs of Balochis fled overseas in search of safety.

However, Pakistan seems to have sent its death squads after them. This year has seen a string of mysterious deaths. First, a Baloch journalist was found dead in Sweden, then two deaths took place in Afghanistan and now in Canada another mysterious death has taken place.

It is not a local crime story. Karima Baloch is the latest victim. She was a vocal critic of Pakistan and its army and openly highlighted the human rights violations in Balochistan and how women from vulnerable groups in Pakistan have been targeted.

Her activism forced her to move to Canada five years ago. She was living on refugee status. Three years ago Karima Baloch made a big claim. She said Canada is giving asylum to members of the Pakistani army. The same army which has been hounding the Baloch people.

On Tuesday, the local police in Toronto found the dead body of Karima Baloch. She had gone missing on Sunday as cops sought public assistance to locate her. Karima Baloch was a public figure and certainly on target of the Pakistani security establishment.

Her criticism of the Canadian government is now going viral on social media and its not without merit.

In an exclusive response, the Toronto police told WION that the investigation is underway. However, they are treating it as a "non-criminal death". They believe there was nothing suspicious about her death even as activists say her family was receiving threats.

According to a report, Karima Baloch recently received anonymous threats. They said "someone would send her a Christmas gift" and "teach her a lesson". In Balochistan, she was seen as a pioneer of women activism which earned her an invitation to a United Nations session in Switzerland where she spoke about the violation of human rights in Balochistan.

In 2014, she became the first woman chairperson of Baloch students organisation Azad, a body that campaigns for the students in Balochistan. Pakistan has tried to paint the group as a terrorist organisation.

In 2013, Islamabad had banned it but it didn't deter Karima Baloch as her following grew. In 2016, she recorded a video message for India's prime minister Narendra Modi asking him to become the voice of the Baloch movement.

In the following years, Karima Baloch campaigned for the freedom of Balochistan from the streets of Canada. In her speeches, she kept calling for India's support. Karima Baloch felt India could play an important role in highlighting the rights violations in Balochistan.

As the world continues to ignore the plight of her people, she pinned her hopes on India now, Karima Baloch is dead and Canada finds nothing suspicious.

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