On Saturday 28th November, three faculty members of Balochistan University were intercepted by armed men near Mastung, Balochistan. These officials of Balochistan University, which included Associate Professor Dr Liaqat Ali Sani, Dr Shabir Ahmed Shahwani and Nizam Shahwani, were travelling to visit the examination centres in Khuzdar on official duty.
The armed men, in three cars, initially took all three lecturers along with them but later released Dr Shabir Ahmed Shahwani and Nizam Shahwani near Kanak, a small town in the vicinity of Mastung but Dr Liaqat Sani remains missing.
Dr Liaqat Sani is a renowned linguist and author of several books and scholarly articles. He is editor of a research journal Al-Burz and also heads the Brahui Department in University of Balochistan as its Chairman. He is held in high esteem in literary circles due to his command on Brahui language and the extensive academic research he has carried out in the field.
However, Dr Liaqat Sani’s main cause of fame across Balochistan has been his resistance poetry in Brahui language. At the time when several Baloch intellectuals have abandoned their stance on the political situation of Balochistan due to the domineering approach of the state against the dissent, Dr. Liaqat Sani continues to raise his voice through his poetry. His pieces of poetry, particularly “Farq Takseem Ati Gum Nishaan e Nana” and “Sahiv Dard Daskan Taghat Aray”, are considered masterpieces in Brahui literature.
It is believed it was this poetry that resulted in Dr. Liaqat Sani’s disappearance. Baloch National Movement, a political party from Balochistan, has blamed Pakistani state authorities for Dr Sani’s disappearance. In a statement the organisation said the incident is a continuance of brutalities being committed against Baloch educationists.
Dr Sani is not first Baloch educationist that has attracted such wrath. Professor Saba Dashtiyari, another professor of Balochistan University and a dissenting voice, was killed by armed men in June 2010. In 2012 another educationist Nazeer Marri was killed, while Zahid Aaskani was murdered in December 2014. Several other teachers have been forcibly disappeared and are missing with no trace.
The educational system in Balochistan is one of the worst in the region, with an alarming literacy rate. There are very few universities in Balochistan, with very intimidating environment due to heavy presence of military under the pretext of security. In these conditions the continued targeting of educationists is further exacerbating the situation. There is an urgent need of stoppage to such measures and an immediate investigation and accountability process against the perpetrators to be initiated.