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Minefields of Balochistan

February 25, 2012

A WOMAN was injured and her young daughter killed in Mondrani Pat area of Sui in Dera Bugti when they stepped over a mine (Feb 21).  In the Grisni area of Kohlu district, a young shepherd grazing his cattle was killed in a similar incident. Mine blasts have been taking lives of people in Balochistan.

These mines are along roads, tracks, fields, deserts, railway tracks, in and around settlements, schools, and other public places.

They deny access to food, water, and other basic needs, and inhibit freedom of movement of the local people. They also hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid.

A few days ago a young boy was injured by land mine while walking along a main road in Dera Bugti. Such mines have been planted in many areas of Dera Bugti and Kohlu to target their tribal opponents and law-enforcement agencies.

In April 2006, at least 29 members of a marriage party were killed after a tractor trolley carrying these people to Rakhni hit a landmine at Gujji Nullah. Most of the victims were women and children. The route between Rakhni and Bekar has been heavily mined by militants loyal to Brahamdagh Bugti.

These mines have caused fear among the inhabitants of the area. They know that they are walking in mined areas but are forced to live there as there are no alternatives.

When land cannot be cultivated, health facilities are drained by the cost of attending to frequent landmine casualties, and when country must spend money clearing mines rather than on education, it is clear that these weapons not only cause appalling human suffering, they also become a barrier to development of the province. There is no comprehensive casualty data collection mechanism in the province. As a result, many incidents go unreported as they generally occur in remote areas.

Mines in Chamalang were laid after a dispute over the ownership of coalmines between the Marri and Luni tribes. In the past six months alone, there have been 17 mine blasts, killing 10 persons and injuring 21 in Dera Bugti alone. There are also forced strikes, badly affecting businesses and those who do not comply lose their lives.

Elements involved in planting these mines are seldom apprehended. They feel no remorse for inadvertently targeting their tribe mates and innocent children. Individuals who get injured are worse than those who get killed.

Losing limbs and getting crippled for lifetime is a bitter ordeal. In addition to land mines, growing incidents of improvised explosive devices have rendered Balochistan a dreadful region with 1,424 incidents reported during the last three years (2009-2011).

On New Year’s eve, an explosive-laden vehicle detonated outside the house of Shafique Mengal in Quetta, killing 15 people and injuring 40 others. The proscribed BLA accepted the responsibility of this gruesome act, celebrating it as their feat. The province, with abundant potential, is being pushed to darkness.