Long before Muhammad bin Qasim led the first Muslim armies into Sindh and Balochistan, a thriving Hindu community existed there, and until the 1990s it was still there. The events of the past two decades in Balochistan are threatening to leave the rich tapestry what is Baloch culture, threadbare. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HCRP), in a press conference on Sunday, reports that 300,000 Shias, Zikris, and Hindus have migrated from the region due to lack of security. This is not a small figure; the number shows a complete loss of faith in the government to provide the prime thing it was formed to do: protect lives. Is it just plain apathy towards the plight of the minorities? Or are inadequate resources crippling good intentions? Is it the fruit of a pre-meditated plan? Or a combination of all these factors?

Sectarian conflict is never too far away in Balochistan. Artificially created divisive politics have historically been utilised to counter both separatism and insurgency. Despite the comparative calm in the region, the policy can never be contained. Building identities around religious sects and ethnicities creates isolated groups that view the ‘others’ with suspicion. With propaganda against minorities already existing, the sentiments are easily inflamed against the wrong groups. Whether this is a spontaneous outburst of self-righteous anger or security forces condoning acts of violence, is up for debate. Perhaps more than this, the de facto status of second class citizens makes these minorities soft targets. The Hindus of the region, unlike their Sindhi counterparts, are wealthy. Most of them are abducted for the simple cause of ransom. The police are seldom bothered, and even if they are, the capital gives them very little with which to monitor the vast tracts of lands in Balochistan.

The Capital’s apathy towards Balochistan is affecting the minorities the most. We are forcing the indigenous people of the land out because not even the most basic right to life can be guaranteed; a shameful statement in a modern democracy.