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My Fallen Comrade: Farewell, Karima

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We are not immortal as humans, but the thoughts, philosophies and narrative we have worked on in our lives will live on if we followed them with honesty and dedication.

Banuk Karima was one of the people who impress others with their clear-headedness. They follow their ideology and philosophy with firm commitment and refuse to be deterred by hardships, tortures or psychological pressure. She was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Canada last week where she was living in exile. I won’t have words to truly describe Banuk, but I will try to share the story of how she impressed people.

We knew Karima Baloch as a Baloch nationalist comrade and BSO-Azad activist when we were university students. Students politics is the best part of the students life among Pashtun and Baloch youngsters. Students of both these ethnicities may hold different views but their destiny is the same — as was ours.

As students, we were part of Pakhtunkhwa Students Organization (PSO) and keenly followed geopolitical and geostrategic politics, the leftist and nationalist theories and ideology as a focus point and were passionate about changing these thoughts into actions. This was the post 9/11 era and globally, terrorism, extremism and proxy wars were on the rise. The situation stirred the regional and nationalist politics as well, and a complex political debate began.

I was often jealous of Banuk for being so active and vocal for the people, for our motherland and for its rights and equality. Why could we, the boys, not speak up that bravely, is what I would often think to myself. She would be at the forefront of demonstrations, agitation, Eid day rallies with the families of the Baloch missing persons.

She was doing it despite all the hurdles — from death threats, taboos, patriarchy to tyranny. This is what we call political “resistance”. Every missing Baloch youth, his tortured and dumped body was her subject to agitate over, to gather fellow students and to condemn it to the highest possible level peacefully.

We would discuss in our organizations ranks that it’s Banuk who is the pioneer of motivating women in the Baloch nationalist politics when the boys are either missing or face death threats in Balochistan. And that’s why she is not only a political face of the victims but a feminist hero as well. Through her steadfastness in the face of oppression, she proved that the Baloch nation has raised its children to the core of enlightenment — irrespective of gender. That’s how she became the Chairperson of the Baloch nationalist front– the Baloch Students Organization (Azad).

Although we could not talk much during the university life, but later as a journalist covering the stories, I would often speak to her about the issues she spoke up about. One of the stories about which I spoke to her was the Zikris Baloch being targeted for their beliefs and political activism in the Awaran region of Balochistan.

I remember texting Banuk saying that I have a story on Zikri Balochs, but am away from Quetta. I asked her if she would connect me to someone on the ground who could help me gather the required information for the story. She got back to me and we talked about the issue. She spoke about the issue with amazing clarity and her enthusiaiasm while speaking of her people made me realise how dearly she must miss her motherland.
I was often in touch with her via Skype, but our conversations had to be limited due to surveillance and threats. I wish I could have spoken to her about life, her feelings, her solitude in Canada.

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Naya Daur