‘Women of Punjab and Balochistan, unite!’


Women’s Action Forum (WAF), vanguard of women’s rights in Pakistan, dedicated its 30th anniversary on Sunday to the people of Balochistan and pledged to motivate the nation, especially the Punjab province, to join their voice with the people of Balochistan against a decade-long atrocities being committed by security forces, banned religious organisations and Jihadi groups.
The WAF demanded the government to solve the issues of the Balochistan in accordance with their aspirations and rights. The WAF also reiterated its earlier stance for keeping on struggle for a secular state in Pakistan besides highlighting the biased outlook of religious clerics towards women in the name of Islam.
The WAF organised an event at Punjabi Complex, Qaddafi Stadium, to mark its 30th foundation anniversary and the 28th anniversary of the momentous challenge to General Zia-ul-Haq’s military government and his ‘Islamisation’ process. Two social workers hailing from Balochistan lamented the indifference of media and Punjab for ignoring the incidents of killings, maiming of innocent citizens, detention, disappearance and ethnic targeting of Balochi people at the hands of security forces and banned groups.
Kawish Mehboob, a social worker hailing from Khuzdar, said that the Balochi women always played a positive role in restoring peace in the province but now after seeing the dead bodies of their beloved ones, they also stood against the atrocities being committed by the security forces and outlawed religious parties. She said women did not like to see weapons in hands of their sons or husbands but when they were being disappeared or killed how the women could stop themselves from raising weapons against the state. She said the Punjab and media were ignoring Balochistan and she feared if steps would not be taken to redress the complaints of Balochistan, it would be very difficult for them to remain with the federation of the country.
Huma Fuladi, another social activist from Quetta, said ethnic cleansing was being committed by the banned religious groups and Shia sect was especially being targeted in the province. She said the atmosphere of the Balochistan was deliberately being marred and it was the responsibility of the state to redress the complaints of people. She said women belonging to all provinces of the country were being suppressed but the voice of women of Balochistan would no longer be silenced. Rehana Taufiq, Rubina Saigol, Gulnar Tabassum and Victoria Patrick recited poetry on women’s rights while Huma Safdar read the translation of ‘Hear Me Roar’.
The WAF applauded the women of Pakistan for their relentless struggle against military regimes. They also appreciated the role of women parliamentarians in propelling the movement forward.
The WAF also passed a resolution which extended support to women of Balochistan. The resolution said that every effort would be made for peaceful resolutions of conflicts within the country.
The resolution further announced to continue its struggle for a democratic, just, equitable and secular state. The resolution also said that military would never be allowed to circumvent, challenge or impede the democratic process. Earlier, the WAF staged a khatak dance outside the Punjabi Complex Auditorium and renowned Khatak dancer Naheed Siddiqi performed along with other dancers – Naila Riaz and Ismat.