Why young in Balochistan kill themselves?

Why young in Balochistan kill themselves?

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PAKISTAN-QUETTA-PROTEST

Islamabad, July 30 (IANS) Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province is beset by an alarming rise in suicides that reflect the anger and frustration among its youth. There are two different types, but both reflect the tragedy of people who feel marginalised.

One involves politically motivated suicide bombers targeting security personnel, forcing the state to react with violence that is matching and worse. The other is by the young who give up on life for various socio-economic reasons.

The state largely ignores the latter phenomenon. Even the response of the society as a whole, of the human rights bodies and political parties is mute. The combined picture that emerges is dismal since the province has witnessed the numbers rise this year.

Take the suicide bombers first. Motivated youth are fighting the state to demand their share of resources and jobs even as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cuts through the province, carrying goods-laden Pakistani and Chinese trucks and ends at the southern Gwadar port. Their groups are banned and treated as criminals and traitors. The Balochs feel deprived at the expense of the more prosperous Punjab and other provinces with greater political clout.

While not bombing the Balochs as was the case in the last century, the state’s response has been ruthless – imprisonment, abduction and pursuing even those who fled to live in exile abroad.

Pakistan produced its first two suicide bombers, both from Balochistan and both women. The Confucius Centre in Karachi was targeted last year killing four Chinese, while the suicide attack killed 13 policemen in March and nine on July 1.

The suicide attack in Zhob led to nine security personnel being killed. Zhob, incidentally, borders Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is spreading its wings. The Balochs are caught in the crossfire as the state pursues them clubbing with the TTP. This is but another aspect of the overall picture where young lives are lost. In February this year, the TTP boasted of killing 29, releasing details of the dates and locations.

Now, take the suicides by those who are giving up on life. Poverty combines here with health issues, both physical and mental that carry negative perceptions and are ignored and frowned upon by a patriarchal society. These suicides militate against their age-old ideas of ‘mardangi’, the stereotypical macho image. Unsurprisingly, more men have taken their lives than women.

Data collected by The Balochistan Post website newspaper shows that the number is rising, every week, this year. Twenty-nine suicide cases have been reported in Balochistan since the beginning of 2023, with 11 women and 18 men falling victim to this tragedy.

All the victims were aged between 18 and 28, raising serious concerns about the young population’s mental well-being. The infographic designed by TBP’s visual studio shines a light on this distressing matter, revealing that approximately 0.135 suicides occurred per 100,000 people every week.

The most affected areas in the past six months were identified as Gaddani, Hub Chowki, Kohlu, Noshki, Quetta, Turbat, Chaghi, Dalbandin, Kachi, Kech, Khuzdar, Panjgoor, Awaran, Dera Bugti, Dakki, and Gwadar.

The methods employed by these individuals to end their lives varied, with 12 choosing to hang, 4 opting for shooting, and 2 using acid or poison. Additionally, 10 cases remain mysterious with unknown means. The reasons behind these tragic acts are multi-faceted, ranging from poverty and domestic issues to the blackmailing tactics of influential figures who enjoy support from Pakistani security forces. These cases could well fall within the just-discussed first category of motivated suicides.

All in all, they reflect a sad state of affairs in Balochistan.

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