Even as a huge surge in the number of human rights violations and killings in Pakistan's Balochistan province is being reported during the lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the horrific case of four-year-old Bramsh has sent massive shock waves throughout the historic town of Turbat in the Makran region.
As you read this, Bramsh is recovering from several wounds inflicted by bullets, totally unaware that mother Malik Naz, who put her to bed on the fateful night of May 26, is no more. The child is also clueless why her name is trending with a hashtag on social media and why thousands gathered on the roads of Turbat today, were shouting slogans against the Pakistan government.
Little Bramsh's world has changed forever since last Tuesday when a few armed men broke into their house in Turbat's Dannuk area. Awakened to a barrage of bullets, she saw her mother put up resistance and then lying motionless in a pool of blood. The assailants injured her too and tried to flee but the family members and the residents of the area somehow managed to overpower and grab one of them.
While the local police first termed them as local burglars and the incident as a robbery — even though the killers allegedly used Kalashnikovs — the Baloch community says there's a substantial proof of these men being part of the 'death squads' outsourced by the Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies to kill, abduct, and terrorize people in Balochistan.
"One of the thugs caught by family members admitted they were sent to Bramsh’s home by Sameer Sabzal, a man who leads one of the many death squads in Turbat for Pakistan’s Military Intelligence and is a member of the ruling party… Balochistan’s Home Minister Zia Langove is in Turbat today and we are told he has given the grieving family Yaqeen Dahani (assurance) the culprits will be brought to justice. "Now, those who are privy to workings of Balochistan governments know that Yaqeen Dahani usually means one thing: forget about the case. It is unlikely that Bramsh will get justice given Pakistani justice system’s almost unfailing record of siding with the powerful in similar cases.
And if by some miracle, the robbers directly involved in the incident are convicted, their leaders and their handlers will continue to enjoy impunity," Balochistan Times wrote in an titled 'Little Bramsh and death squads in Kech'. Even as support for Bramsh intensifies all across the province, the protest rallies are once again highlighting the crimes committed by the country's government, and army in particular, for decades now.
"It’s not a crime to kill innocent children, young students, elderly, and women in Balochistan. Will there ever be justice for Bramsh and her mother. Or will the Baloch people be left on the mercy of the establishment’s proxies," Akhtar Mengal, President of Balochistan National Party, asked PM Imran Khan and Shireen Mazari, Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, in a tweet while pointing towards the link between the local death squad and Blochistan Awami Party, the ruling party of Balochistan.
Gazain Baloch, a political activist, was even more critical. "A little angel named #BramshBaloch became victim of Pakistani Death squad atrocities in Danok dist Kech occupied Balochistan. @UN Bramsh is a kid she doesn't have knowledge of good and bad , she doesn't know why deathsquad killed her mother," he tweeted.
"Let me clear a fact we are slave in Pakistan, Baloch is an oppressed nation… Being a slave and oppressed, our lives have no value under Pakistan occupation," he added further. Perhaps that's why, be it the human rights violations or Imran Khan-led government's huge failure to tackle coronavirus pandemic in the province, the analysts see no light at the end of the tunnel for the people of Balochistan.