MYSTERY continues to shroud the sudden death of professor and activist leader Arman Loni in Loralai on Saturday.

Family and friends of the deceased allege that the police were responsible for killing Loni during a crackdown on a days-long sit-in, yet the police claim that a postmortem revealed no signs of injury. Days later, there is still no clarity on the circumstances of his death — which is threatening to stoke an already contentious issue.

Context is key. Against a backdrop in which several high-profile extrajudicial killings have cast a sustained spotlight on excessive force by state authorities, the risk of tensions spiralling out of control is high. Monday’s strike in several areas across Balochistan — with its widespread support from political parties across ethnic lines and sections of society including traders and lawyers — is indicative of Loni’s popular standing in civil society as well as how widespread the public disaffection is. The provincial chief minister took notice of Loni’s death the very next day, perhaps in recognition of these delicate sociopolitical implications.

Concurrently, in the wake of a brutal attack on the DIG police complex in Loralai last week, vigilance on the part of law enforcement and the provincial government is understandably necessary.

Also read: Extrajudicial killings

However, in question here is not only the issue of whether or not Arman Loni was indeed a victim of police brutality, but the very nature of ‘vigilance’ being distorted by public servants to evade accountability and justify curtailing people’s rights. Paranoid, overreaching measures taken in the interest of ‘maintaining public order’ are counterproductive. Thus, statements by the provincial home minister seeking to blame those who contest the official version of events (as it currently stands) while in the same breath promising a fair investigation will hardly serve to dispel such perceptions.

Loni’s death demands an unbiased and transparent probe. But it also requires that the provincial and federal governments be responsive to the public’s mood and work to de-escalate a potentially volatile situation.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2019

Opinion

Sub judice rule
18 Sep 2021

Sub judice rule

It is time this objection, sub judice, is laid to rest.
The Black Caps folly
Updated 18 Sep 2021

The Black Caps folly

There is so much wrong — and worrying — about the entire sorry episode of New Zealand backing out of Pakistan tour.
CT NAP revisited
Updated 18 Sep 2021

CT NAP revisited

A policy of appeasement towards extremists has undermined the state’s writ.
Pathways for reform
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Pathways for reform

Even now the government has said they are listening, but they have not said how they are listening.

Editorial

Blinken’s remarks
Updated 18 Sep 2021

Blinken’s remarks

The US establishment cannot scapegoat Pakistan for two decades of bad policy in Afghanistan.
18 Sep 2021

Worrying survey

THE findings of the Labour Force Survey 2018-19 indicate that some important headline trends have already taken or...
18 Sep 2021

Special needs

THE fact that only 3,653 children with special needs, out of some 300,000 in Sindh, are registered with the...
TTP amnesty?
Updated 17 Sep 2021

TTP amnesty?

An amnesty should be for some individuals, not the entire outfit.
17 Sep 2021

Media regulation

THE needless controversy over media regulation may finally be heading for a resolution. In a meeting with ...
17 Sep 2021

Refusing audit

THE continuous resistance put up by several public-sector organisations to submitting their accounts for audit by ...