Pakistani dissident Baloch activist buried amid tight safety

Islamabad, January 25

A 37-year-old Pakistani dissident from ethnic Baloch community and women right activist, who died in exile in Canada, was brought home and buried in her village in the restive Balochistan province amid tight security, officials said on Monday.

Karima Baloch, the political activist who campaigned extensively against disappearances and human rights violations in the troubled Balochistan province, was found dead in Toronto downtown waterfront on December 22.

Officials said that her immediate family was present at the funeral on Sunday in the Tump village of the Keach area of the restive province.

Security was tight due to the fear of protest by Baloch nationalists who cherished her as their leader. Her supporters claimed on social media that the village was virtually sealed off so that people from other areas could not attend the funeral.

Security sources said that the mobile phone services were suspended in the area to avoid any mishap as militants often use it to carry out acts of sabotage.

Karima was highly critical of Pakistan’s security institutions like her fellow nationalists who alleged that the federal government was exploiting the mineral resources while keeping the region impoverished. The charge is always rejected by the institutions.

She was living in Canada where she was granted asylum in 2016.

Karima, a critic of the Pakistani government and powerful military, had campaigned extensively against disappearances and human rights violations in Balochistan.

In 2016, she was named on BBC’s list of 100 inspirational women. At 30, she was the first woman to become the leader of the Balochistan Student Organisation.

She left Pakistan in 2015, after terrorism charges were levelled against her. Her family said she had been given death threats.

Her sister told the BBC Urdu service last month that Karima’s death was “not only a tragedy for the family, but also for the Baloch national movement”.

“She didn’t go abroad because she wanted to, but because… open activism in Pakistan had become impossible,” Mahganj Baloch was quoted as saying by the BBC Urdu service.

“The death of activist Karima Baloch in Toronto, Canada is deeply shocking and must be immediately and effectively investigated. The perpetrators must be brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty,” Amnesty International South Asia said in a tweet last month. — PTI

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