The mortal remains of missing 37 years old Karima Mehrab affectionately known as Karima Baloch was recovered from an icy lake of Toronto neighbourhood. The Canadian police have ruled out of any foul play after the initial investigation. However, The former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Mr Chris Alexander had tweeted “We mourn with larger Canadian, Baloch & international families, who have obvious questions. All of us who knew Karima see the circumstances of her death as deeply suspicious. We must leave no stone unturned in uncovering & confronting the reality of what happened to her.“
Activism and immigration to Canada
Her family mourns the mountain of courage, indomitable voice for freedom and an intrepid champion of human rights activists. Karima was from the largest and most oppressed region of Balochistan in Pakistan. She was granted political asylum in Canada in the year 2016 and prior to that she advocated the rights of the minority Baloch people within the Pakistani federation. She was particularly very prominent in raising concerns on the issues of enforced disappearances in Balochistan and was the first chairperson of a political student group, the Baloch Student Organization (BSO Azad). She was also listed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) among top hundred most inspirational and influential women of 2016 with special reference to her achievements for groundbreaking work in human rights.
Karima Mehrab whom we all know as Karima Baloch was in 2008 standing in a Pakistani court and facing false allegations by the state in connection to her ongoing activism, when the judge had the ignorance of offering a lenient sentence based on her gender. She bravely rebuffed the mockery with a firm statement of equality demonstrating extraordinary spirit of dedication to her beliefs in her committed cause. She was at loggerheads with the mighty establishment of Pakistan and the infamous deep state.
The grieving family are not sure as to what had happened to her in actual terms. It seems very highly unlikely that a person with such immense courage, will power and determination would resort to taking her own life by submerging in the artic waters of Canada and that too in height of winter. Toronto police said Baloch’s death was “currently being investigated as a non-criminal death and there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances.” They did not provide further details. Her sudden demise is a cause for grave concern and deeply shocking in nature.
Since she had immigrated to the safe shores of Canada she continued with her activism, being vocal about human rights abuses in her native land of Balochistan, attending multiple conferences and being a regular commentator on popular social media platforms. Earlier in May 2020 at the height of the pandemic another Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain was also found dead by drowning in Sweden under possible unnatural circumstances. He had also emigrated out of Pakistan and was known for his journalism about the human rights violation by the military establishment and its agencies. It is not the first instance that free thinking voices inside Pakistan have been threatened. In March of 2014 highly acclaimed Journalist and author Razza Rumi had a failed assassination attempt on him and has since sought refuge in the West.
Balochistan is not only the largest province in Pakistan but also the richest as per natural resources. However, in spite of such huge resources, it is the poorest and most backward region. There is deep-seated resentment amongst the native Baloch people and calls for separation from the clutches of the establishment. In recent times much of land and resources of Balochistan has been leased out to foreign powers under the guise of economic development projects such as the CPEC and BRI. The Western world must ensure that if any foul play has been perpetrated the culprit are brought to books. Leaders and representatives of the people should take up this matter with alacrity as it is a direct threat not only to the voice of hope, liberation and those in residing in Canada but also to the greater world at large and the countries of Europe in particular.
(The Author is a Geo-Political Analyst from London, UK)
Image Courtesy: Wikipedia