The National Assembly of Pakistan has recently passed twenty-four bills to establish new universities, one of which is the China-Pakistan University of Gwadar, strangely located in Lahore. There are currently 18 universities in whole Balochistan, which is less than the number of universities in Lahore alone. The oldest University of Balochistan is currently struggling with a financial crisis, while the other universities are also facing administrative and financial difficulties.
Protests are being held in Balochistan, urging for the establishment of new universities. However, concerns have been raised about the construction of China-Pakistan Gwadar University in Lahore, and incidents of profiling and enforced disappearances of Baloch students studying in Punjab’s universities, such as in Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, and Multan.
The recent cases of forced disappearance of Baloch students, including two students of Quaid-e-Azam University, Salim Baloch of Punjab University Lahore, and the disappearance of 17 year old Feroz Baloch from Arid University Rawalpindi are alarming. Despite court orders, some of the disappeared students have not been produced yet. The Islamabad High Commission has expressed its concern and called for an end to the profiling and forced disappearances of Baloch students, but the practice continues.
The Baloch political circles have accused Pakistan of its “exploitative plans”, especially related to China’s economic corridor, of causing harm to Balochistan through genocide, population change, and benefits to Punjab.
Pakistan’s ruling forces must address the issues raised by Balochistan and take measures to stop exploitative behavior in the region. Additionally, it is essential to engage in constructive dialogue with Baloch to ensure that projects are completed with the support and consent of the Baloch people, and for their benefit. Otherwise, success of such projects is a farfetched idea.