Baloch Liberation Army Claims Responsibility for Women Lecturer’s Killing

Quetta: The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed the responsibility for Ms Nazima’s killing.  Nazima Talib was travelling in a rickshaw when two masked men on a motorcycle opened fire on her on the Sariab road. The 50 year old had been teaching in the Balochistan University for 23 years, and was an assistant professor in the mass communication department.

The Academic Staff Association has announced a 3 day mourning and boycott of classes in protest against the killing. Chief Minister Balochistan has strongly condemned the killing.

Below is a letter written by Tasneem Ahmar, published in daily dawn of today (29th April 2009) which we reproducing here.

Why was Nazima Talib murdered?

THIS is to express my extreme grief and shock over the murder of Professor Nazima Talib in Quetta on April 27. Nazima joined the department at its inception in 1987, leaving Karachi and moving to Quetta to impart education to students of Balochistan University.

I did not know Nazima intimately, having met her only occasionally at the department or media workshops in Quetta. But a greater shock than her death was how she was killed at the very gate of the institution she had served for almost three decades by ‘unknown assailants’. However, are they not assailants who are not ‘hidden’ anymore?

According to news reports, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed responsibility for the murder, claiming, ‘the woman lecturer was shot dead in reaction to the killing of Baloch women and children in Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Pasni, Tump and Quetta’.

The BLA had been warning of “retaliation in the same coin, by targeting settler women in case the atrocities against Baloch women were not stopped, and security forces continued their actions, forcing the BLA to take the extreme step of killing a settler professor of the university”.

Things have changed over the years, even the ethics of nationalist movements. I thought that according to Baloch traditions, it was considered cowardly to attack/target women and that too a woman professor who was alone and unarmed.

Was Nazima Talib responsible for the murder and/or torture of all the Baloch women and children listed by the BLA? Did she order the acts? Did she cause Balochistan’s deprivation and isolation in national development? Her only fault could be her passion to continue teaching in a university under a most threatening environment as she thought the students needed her.

Why not get to people who are behind such acts? Look at the root causes of under-development or deprivation? Surely it would not lead to Nazima Talib’s hostel where she lived for all these years. It may instead point to the Sardars and Waderas and the agencies or the political leadership of the province for not playing their part in demanding and getting due rights for the people of their province?

Then why did Nazima lose her life? From being a full-time lecturer to being a member of the visiting faculty, I have always been so proud of most of my students and I am sure Nazima must have had the same feelings that a lecturer has for her/his students’ love and affection. Besides, teachers/lecturers bestow love and pride on their students like they do on their own children.

Nazima must have imparted knowledge, awareness and other skills to her students — who may run into thousands. I am wondering what their reaction is over this brutal but cowardly act: anger, remorse or guilt. Will they hold strong protest or remain silent? Will they demand the arrest of the culprits or look the other way?

BLA has also warned of more such attacks if security forces continued their operation in the province. This is a frightening beginning, especially for us women who have been working as activists, raising our voices for any and every act of injustice, without any shade of ethnic or racial bias.

I may be brave and committed and strong-nerved, but will I now want to travel to this province like I have done for so many years? Quetta made me feel so comfortable while holding seminars and workshops there. Will I be able to see my various friends and colleagues from the media and newspaper offices that I visited late in the night so that I could talk to the desk people and discuss issues of gender-sensitive reporting? Will I be able to walk freely and fearlessly in the markets I enjoyed visiting, especially Shabnam Market, for shopping or browsing? Will I be able to travel by road to Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Sibi and many other places for media trainings? It may seem sad, but the truth is I won’t!


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