A woman and her young daughter, going home in Mondrani Pat area of Sui in Dera Bugti district, stepped on an anti-personnel mine, causing it to explode. The girl died and her mother was admitted to Sui hospital with serious wounds. In Grisni area of Kohlu district, a young shepherd grazing his cattle in the area was killed in a similar incident.

Mine-blasts have been taking lives of innocent people. These are designed to explode through a remote control device, proximity, or contact of a person. These can be found along roads, tracks, fields, deserts, railway tracks, in and around settlements and schools, and in other public places. They deny access to food, water, and other basic needs, and inhibit freedom of movement of the local inhabitants. They also hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Few days back a young boy was injured while walking along a main road in Dera Bugti district. A landmine blew up near him, causing serious injury to his right leg. He is one of a growing number of victims of landmine blasts in the troubled province of Balochistan. The mines have been indiscriminately planted by the so-called ‘liberation fighters’ in many areas of the Dera Bugti and Kohlu districts to target law enforcement agencies’ personnel and their tribal opponents. Law enforcement agencies are assisting in exploration activities in the area to create resources for the socio-economic uplift of Balochistan.

One of the worst incidents took place in April 2006, when at least 29 members of a marriage party were killed after a tractor trolley carrying these people to the town of Rakhni, hit an anti-tank landmine at Gujji Nullah. Most of the victims were women and children. The bridegroom was among those injured. The route between Rakhni and the town of Bekar, frequently used by paramilitary troops, had been heavily mined by tribal militants loyal to the miscreants’ leader Brahamdad Bugti.

These lethal munitions have triggered a strong sense of fear in the inhabitants of the area.

There is no comprehensive casualty data collection mechanism functional in the Province. Resultantly, many incidents go unreported by the media, as they generally occur in remote areas. The criminal elements involved in planting these mines are seldom apprehended. They feel no remorse for inadvertently targeting their tribe mates and innocent children. The landmines laid by them obviously cannot discriminate between friends and foe and innocent individuals keep falling victims. The individuals who get injured due to activation of these mines are actually worse than those who get killed. Loosing limbs and getting crippled for lifetime is definitely a bitter ordeal to bear. Should the individuals involved in planting the mines in populated areas and along roadsides be called ‘Freedom Fighters’ or ruthless criminals (who are killing their own people especially children by such devices)? Do they deserve to be called ‘humans’ at all?

In addition to landmines, growing incidents of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) explosions have rendered Balochistan a dreadful region; with 1,424 terrorist incidents reported during last three years (2009-2011). The country has suffered the most through the use of IEDs by terrorists and militants as 2,073 security forces personnel and civilians have been killed in 2,053 IED attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhaw and Balochistan both. In case of IED attacks, the victims are again mostly innocent people. On New Year eve, an explosive laden vehicle detonated outside the house of Shafique Mengal in Quetta City. The explosion caused huge casualties i.e 15 killed and 40; injured all of them passer byes/innocent people. Imagine, the proscribed BLA accepted the responsibility of this gruesome act, celebrating it as their feat.  

A number of bitter questions come to mind once we see the pictures of children, women and young people being killed and crippled by the mine blasts and IEDs in Balochistan. Unfortunately, the Province with abundant potential to develop and progress is being pushed back to “darkness” by the criminal elements. The phenomenon is resulting into orphan children and impoverished families who do not even know why such catastrophe is unleashed on them. They are the innocent sufferers of the wreck less criminal acts of the so called ‘liberation seekers’.

PROF AFRAZ AHMED,

Islamabad, February 21.