Balochistan is the most backward province of Pakistan and this means that everything arrives late here. This is also true for the positive effects of social media. Arguably for the first time, social media in Balochistan has been used for welfare of public in the case of cancer patient Hajira.

Before delving into the success story of social media, it’s necessary to describe the case. Hajira is a 13-year-old girl from Kharan district of Balochistan. She is suffering from acute myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer, and its treatment is very costly. She was taken to different hospitals in Pakistan where blood cancer is treated free of cost. However, all hospitals showed their helplessness in treating her due to the complicated nature of her illness. She was referred to a well-reputed private hospital in Karachi and her treatment was estimated to cost up to Rs. 5 million.

Hajira belongs from an underprivileged family and her parents could not afford to treat her. As a result they aired an appeal for treatment of Hajira through a private news channel. After that appeal was aired, Balochistan’s civil society picked up her case as a cause.

After waiting for several days, activists of the civil society managed to get an appointment with Chief Minister of Balochistan, Dr. Malik Baloch. They briefed CM about the case of Hajira and requested him to issue a directive to health department of Balochistan to finance her treatment. CM abruptly refused the plea of the civil society activists and said that he has consumed the discretionary funds and therefore he has no funds to help Hajira.

A few days after his meeting with civil society activists, the CM went to Turbat city to inaugurate high court bench in that city. To the surprise of many he announced Rs. 5 million for Library of High Court bench and Rs. 2 million for Kech Bar Association. He paid Rs. 7 million in total from his discretionary fund in just one visit to his hometown of Turbat.

This means that CM Balochistan had lied to the civil society activists when he said that he has no funds. That’s right, the so-called representative of middle class lied when he was asked to help a child of underprivileged family.

Federal Minister for Saffron, Abdul Qadir Baloch and Karim Nosherwani, MNA and MPA of Kharan district, the home town of Hajira, were also criminally indifferent to the sufferings of the her family. At this point, civil society activists were left with no choice but to start a social media campaign to highlight the case.

They took to Facebook and Twitter and started an awareness campaign. The trend #LetsSaveHajira was used on Twitter. The activists started this trend on Wednesday night and by Thursday morning positive results started to appear.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal, former CM of Balochistan and an active Twitter user, was the first person to announce Rs. 0.5 million for Hajira. After that, the announcements of donations started to pour in. Advisor to CM on finance, Khalid Langau announced Rs. 2 million in his personal capacity. Provincial President of PML-N, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri announced Rs. 1 million and there were several other smaller donations. In less than 24 hours over 3.8 million were committed by different politicians on public platforms and it’s not possible for them to back out from those commitments.

The collected amount is sufficient to start the treatment of Hajira and continue it for the next few months. Still more donations are required for Hajira and therefore the social media campaigns for her are in progress. It’s a great success story for underprivileged people of Balochistan where social media was used for their benefit, arguably for first time.

This case proves two main points. First is that people with money and power will only help those in need when pressurized. Secondly, social media campaigns matter even in backward provinces like Balochistan, which is a very positive development.

After this successful experience, social media can be used as an effective pressure building tool in Balochistan. Given the unchecked bad governance and corruption in the province, social media can be an effective tool to put pressure on the government and solve issues of public importance.

Twitter is the most effective platform when it comes to launching social media campaigns. Unfortunately, in Pakistan at the national level Twitter is hijacked by cyber wings of PTI and other political parties who use fake accounts to create trends. These trends are often based on declaring the opponents of their parties as traitors.

Fortunately, this is not the case in Balochistan and hopefully Twitter will not become a battle ground for political parties there. As a result, activists of civil society can use it to help plenty of other Hajiras in Balochistan.