Baloch activists, fighting for an independent Balochistan, paid tributes to activist Karima Baloch on her first death anniversary. Just 37, she was found dead in Canada's Lake Ontario on December 21 last year.
In a media statement, the Baloch National Movement (BNM) said that Karima Baloch was determined to fight for an independent Balochistan and had successfully taken the message of their national struggle to the common people. "Her services and sacrifice for the Baloch cause are unparalleled", the BNM statement said.
She was one of the few women Baloch human rights activists who spent her life highlighting violations committed by the Pakistani security forces. Karima had begun her fight against the Pakistani State in her twenties when she joined a missing person's rally with a photograph of her relatives. Almost till her last she kept highlighting the plight of tens of thousands of families whose relatives had been abducted, tortured and killed by the Pakistani military.
Pakistani newspaper, The Balochistan Post says that Karima Baloch revitalised the Baloch struggle and also paved the way for women's participation in student politics. The newspaper says that inspired by Karima, many Baloch women joined the independence movement for Balochistan.
The role of women in Balochistan under a local regime controlled by Islamabad remains marginalised. The province recently elected an all-male cabinet under the eyes of the Pakistani government ensuring that Baloch women remain out of the political mainstream.
With pressure mounting on Karima from the Pakistani military and intelligence, she decided to take asylum in Canada in 2016 and enrolled as a student. Even in Canada she continued to receive threats over social media.
The BNM says that Karima suffered "the wrath of the Pakistani state for her activism".
"Her friends, close companions, relatives and family members were abducted, killed or threatened on a daily basis. But she never lost courage; she stood her ground and valiantly fought for her rights. Her house was raided several times and her family members were harassed", says the BNM.
It was not just Karima who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in 2020.
In eerily similar circumstances, Baloch editor and activist Sajid Hussain - the founder and chief editor of The Balochistan Post, too was found dead in the Fyris River near Uppsala in Sweden early 2020. He had reportedly gone missing for weeks till the Swedish authorities found his body.