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Pakistan is making Baloch intellectuals disappear one by one. This time, an MPhil student

The disappearance of Hafeez Baloch comes weeks after insurgents who are part of the banned Baloch Liberation Army struck twice at Pakistan’s security forces.

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New Delhi: A young MPhil student’s photographs are now the top trend in Pakistan. Hafeez Baloch has gone missing and his father alleges that he was dragged by Pakistani police from the science tuition classroom where he was teaching. Hafeez Baloch’s, an MPhil physics student at Islamabad’s Quaid-i-Azam University, is the latest in the series of cases of enforced disappearances in Pakistan.

Twitter users accusing Pakistani forces of targeting Baloch intellectuals.

Hafeez reportedly went missing from his hometown, Khuzdar, located in the central part of Balochistan. According to a BBC report, Khuzdar police have confirmed that the family have filed a case in connection with his alleged disappearance.

The MPhil student’s father had said his son returned home from Islamabad during the last week of January for vacation. On 8 February, while teaching children at a local academy, three masked gunmen came in a black vehicle and abducted, he told the BBC.

“Two of them came to the classroom and forcibly took Hafeez with them to an undisclosed location in front of the students,” said the father.

“He became victim of enforced disappearance infront of his students while he was teaching them free of cost in a science tution in his hometown #Khuzdar,” read a Twitter post.

Though the Quaid-i-Azam University has not come out with a formal statement as yet, fliers have been distributed across the university campus calling for a ‘Peace Walk’ from the Multi-Function Center to the administration office.

“Your Quaidian friend is Missing. Raise your voice for Hafeez Baloch,” read one of the fliers.

QAU, also known as University of Islamabad, is among Pakistan’s largest, and highest ranked public universities.

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Targeting Baloch intellectuals

Hafeez joins a long list of Baloch students, activists and human rights leaders in the troubled province who have gone missing.

In December 2020, the body of Karima Baloch, a human rights activist and former chairperson of Baloch Students Organisation – Azad, was found in Canada.

In response to Hafeez’s disappearance, Munir Mengal, president of the Baloch Voice Association, accused the Pakistani State of deliberately targeting “Baloch intellectuals”.

Mahrang Baloch, an activist and MMBS student, came to a similar conclusion. “[Pakistani] State has never tolerated educated Baloch,” she tweeted, reminding that journalist Razzaq Baloch was found dead in Karachi in 2013, months after he went missing.

Meanwhile, other users lamented the loss of a “bright student” and demanded his release so he can resume his studies.

A user by the name of Tilyan Aslam, claiming to be a fellow student of Hafeez, recalled speaking to him about feminism during a study circle at Quaid-i-Azam University.

“I remember #HafeezBaloch asking me question/s about feminism in my first study circle in #QAU. The fact that our educated and talented youths are usually the one more prone to the heinous enforced disappearances is so horrifying to witness at this point!” she said.

Also read: Soldier statue in Pakistan removed. Some say it was Hari Singh, others don’t even name it

‘Further alienating Baloch’

The disappearance of Hafeez Baloch comes weeks after insurgents who are part of the banned Baloch Liberation Army struck twice at Pakistan’s security forces in Balochistan — at Panjgur and Noshki districts.

According to former senator Farhatullah Babar, alleged abductions of students by Pakistani forces is only going to further alienate Baloch people.

“Abduction of Baloch students from university in federal capital is touching new low in vendetta. Beware of consequence of further alienating Baloch, pushing them with backs to wall. If Hafeez is guilty of any crime take him to court. Recover him safely and punish abductors,” tweeted Babar.

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