Despite a loud voice from civil society, later from the judiciary, the Baloch issue is far from being untangled. Those who raised it have been risking their lives and have been labeled as traitors. Renowned journalist Hamid Mir had to face a violent attack when he insisted on inviting Mama Qadeer, a father who has been looking for justice ever since his son went missing.

The Lahore University of Management Sciences was stopped from holding a talk on Balochistan. Taimur Rehman, a faculty member of LUMS was attacked by a malicious vilification campaign for supporting his institution’s right to hold debates. The murder of Sabeen Mahmud, who can’t be limited to the Balochistan issue only, sets a new trend. The message is: you can be silenced forever if you attempt to unsilence Pakistan on difficult issues. You must conform.

The story of this silencing is pretty old.

The terrorist attack on the Army-managed school in Peshawar in December 2014 shook the entire nation and the state so much that the civilian and the military leadership cried in unison for effectively countering terrorism. What was missing from this newfound resolve, however, was accountability of the state institutions responsible. There was no demand from any political party for a broad-based inquiry in order to address the negligence or complicity of any state institution. No heads rolled. There were no voices from the political class, and negligible clamour from civil society.

Go back to September 2014. An attack on the Navy Dockyard in Karachi was thwarted after a prolonged gun battle for several hours. The terrorists had entered the facility unchecked and with enough ammunition. Considering the sensitive nature and importance of this dockyard in Pakistan’s security paraphernalia, one was hoping that those who run the state, and those who often lament the incompetency and corruption of the political class, would take this matter seriously and would go all out for determining who was responsible. Nothing was done, no heads rolled. There were little or no voices from political class or civil society.

That takes us to another dreadful attack on PNS Mehran, the headquarters of Pakistan Navy naval Air Arm. The attack was the biggest on the Navy since 1971. The Special Services Group Navy conducted the counter attack, which was reported to be the largest operation led by SSG (N) since 1971. Fifteen militants entered the facility unchecked with sophisticated weapons and other supplies. All militants were killed reportedly. The attack caused a loss of 18 precious young soldiers and Rs. 6.47 billion.

Following the attack, the Naval Intelligence (NI) constituted an investigation team comprising officials from NI, FIA, Pakistan Army Rangers, and headed by a two star Rear Admiral. Without making the report public, the commanding commodore Raja Tahir was suspended for ‘failing in increasing the security of the base’. No further inquiry report is available to determine complicity or negligence.

Sheer coincidence, that journalist Saleem Shehzad was killed on May 30 after he filed the report claiming there was an internal hand responsible for the attack. Just like it is sheer coincidence that Sabeen was killed immediately after a debate on Balochistan from which she was stopped a week earlier.

An inquiry Commission was constituted to determine who might have killed Saleem Shehzad. The Commission submitted its report, which left many questions unanswered including the main question it had to answer – who killed Saleem Shehzad? No one killed Saleem Shehzad, the Commission kept short of saying. “The commission has been unable to identify the culprits behind this incident (…) unfortunately, the culprits cannot be identified” the report concluded. Business as usual. No voice from the political class and little voice from civil society to make the report public.

Prior to this, US Navy Seals carried out an operation in Abbottabad, found and killed Osama Bin Laden who was comfortably sleeping in a high security safe house yards away from the Pakistan Military Academy. This was a clear violation of Pakistan’s sovereign borders, the security of which citizens expect when they grow on their tax money one of world’s largest armies and world’s smartest spy agency. To date, Pakistani people are kept in the dark about whose negligence it was, that let the US forces in Pakistan’s borders, complete their operation and go back safely following which the American President and head of the US Army called their Pakistani counterparts, none of whom is known to have protested.

The government, however, formed a judicial inquiry commission to find out who was responsible for failing to catch the high-profile target. Now that was an important inquiry, more important than the border violation investigation. According to Pakistan’s stated position, we had many a times negated US claims that OBL might have been in Pakistan and had claimed that Pakistan was determined to catch him on actionable intelligence. The Judicial Commission submitted its report in 2012, which is still kept secret. No one knows whom the Commission held responsible for this negligence or complicity if there was any. Obviously, no head have rolled. Not that the political class or even civil society ever bothered demanding it.

In 2009 there was a coordinated attack on Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. It was a big attack carried out by four militants that continued for several hours and killed six soldiers including two senior Army Officers. No one knows if there was an inquiry commission or a joint investigative team ever constituted to determine negligence or complicity. Obviously, no head rolled. Not that there was any strong demand for it from the society.

April 10 this year was 27th anniversary of the Ojhri Camp disaster that killed over a hundred citizens in twin cities that day. Many more succumbed to their injuries or lost their limbs. Most prominent among them was former Air Commodore Khaqan Abbasi who had joined politics by then. He died on the spot while his son has severe head injuries and died after 17 years of remaining in a state of coma.

According to reports, the ‘accident’ happened little ahead of a US audit mission that had to account for the weapons US had doled out to Pakistan’s army for Afghan Jihad. Those were the good old days when Islamic Jihad was a glorious project planned and sponsored by the US and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with some necessary support from Israel too (see Charlie Wilson’s account of the US support for the Afghan Jihad for more insights). For constituting a parliamentary inquiry, the Prime Minister of the time was dismissed. Obviously, no head rolled.

Had we been able to unsilence Pakistan, we might have saved this country of much of bloodshed and international humiliation. That is one reason to keep unsilencing Pakistan after Sabeen’s unfortunate assassination. I’m sure the security agencies have not done it. That is why there won’t be any silencing of Pakistan for demanding the accountability on not only the Baloch issue but any of the issues described above.