Labourers once again fall victim to wave of violence

  • Hamza Latif Khan
  • May 10, 2024

In another harrowing incident, labourers seeking livelihoods in Gwadar, Balochistan, became the latest victims of ongoing violence.

Two brothers lost their lives to unidentified attackers in the province plagued by insurgency. Over the past two years, around 40 labourers have been murdered solely due to their identities, with their only fault being their pursuit of sustenance in Balochistan.

A recent call by a political activist for the protection of non-locals and the denunciation of violence against any individual garnered significant support from Punjab’s populace. The activist delivered a compelling address at the Asma Jahangir conference in Lahore, which was met with thunderous applause.

Seven labourers from Punjab were brutally killed in Surbandar, Gwadar, when assailants stormed their living quarters and fired upon them as they slept. One individual was wounded in the assault and subsequently hospitalized in Gwadar. The police have initiated an inquiry and conducted raids to apprehend those responsible. Balochistan’s Chief Minister Sarfaraz Bugti vehemently denounced the attack, vowing to confront the terrorists with resolve. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also condemned the attack, labeling it a cowardly act against the nation by its adversaries. To date, no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Balochistan has been the site of a low-intensity conflict involving Baloch separatist factions opposing the Pakistani state, with hostilities intensifying in recent times. Disputes have arisen with Baloch nationalists accusing the Pakistani government and Punjab of monopolising the wealth derived from Balochistan’s rich natural resources.

When Baloch rights are at stake, many stand in solidarity with their cause. During their sit-in for demands, journalists, social workers, and human rights advocates supported them, providing sustenance and denouncing the treatment they received. Some journalists even renounced their prestigious civilian honours in solidarity. However, there is now an anticipation for a statement of condemnation from Baloch leaders, urging them to stand with the defenseless labourers, who, like all in Pakistan, are entitled to a dignified existence irrespective of ethnicity, language, attire, or region.

Insurgency targeting any ethnic group must be repudiated, as the sanctity of human life is paramount globally. The two brothers who were slain by unknown assailants were family providers, and their untimely deaths have left their dependents without support, despite their innocence and merely offering their skills in their fraternal province.

Authorities must address this issue with gravity, ensuring that animosity and violence do not escalate into ethnic strife, rendering our communities inhospitable. It is imperative for civil society, journalists, and political factions to collectively denounce the murder of labourers and reject any endorsement of such atrocities. We must advocate for unity, empathy, and peaceful cohabitation among all, transcending backgrounds and identities. The infliction of violence and hatred upon any group is intolerable and demands a unified repudiation and response. Our collective endeavor should be to foster a society that cherishes human life and dignity, where everyone is free from the threat of persecution or violence.

To secure tranquility in Balochistan, the grievances of the Baloch populace must be acknowledged. They deserve an equitable share of the resources extracted from their land. Additionally, policy-making should involve informed individuals who comprehend the Baloch community’s challenges, historical injustices, socio-economic exclusion, and the importance of their participation in decisions impacting their lives and future. Such measures will cultivate trust, inclusivity, and ensure that Balochistan’s wealth benefits all its inhabitants equitably.

Every person is entitled to fundamental human rights, including living with dignity, receiving quality education, maintaining health, and connecting globally via the internet. Moreover, equal access to all human rights and amenities is essential for individuals to realize their full potential. To this end, we must strive to eradicate hatred and discrimination through both positive and negative peace. Positive peace entails creating inclusive communities, nurturing empathy, and fostering understanding, while negative peace involves resolving conflicts, dismantling systemic injustices, and holding culprits accountable. By integrating these strategies, we can establish a just and harmonious society where each individual has the chance to prosper and achieve their utmost capabilities.


Hamza Latif Khan

The author is a writer and analyst, and currently works as a research associate at Hum News. He posts on X as @HamzaLatifSays

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