The University of Karachi last week was rocked by a suicide bombing carried out inside the university premises targeting a cab carrying four people – three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver. Some may assume that such an incident at a a university in Pakistan isn’t shocking news, but the disturbing story was that the attack was carried out by a woman.
The attacker was identified as Shari Baloch, claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) to be a member of that banned group.
It has been learned that the bomber was a daughter of a retired public servant. She was a teacher in primary school with a master’s degree in zoology and an MPhil in education. She was the mother to two children, eight-year-old Mahrosh and four-year-old Meer Hassan, and the wife of a dentist.
It may seem impossible that such a highly educated and well-established person could carry out such a terrible act. However, the discussion triggered by this incident needs serious attention.
The news created a wave of fear, especially among university students in Pakistan. At a time like this, when the country is in a state of political turmoil, such an incident inside an educational institution is particularly troubling.
The discussion on social media can be summed up in three key points.
Earlier, we witnessed protests by Baloch students outside the National Press Club in Islamabad and other major institutions calling for an end to enforced disappearances in Balochistan. As well, most of the universities in the country have federations that publicize the Baloch people’s different demands.
But last week’s suicide bombing took the issue of Baloch unrest to a new level. And the question arises as to whether it was an isolated event or just the beginning. What will other students with similar grievances think, if an educated family woman can do such a thing? Should they also go down that path?
Another important point of concern is related to the security and life of university students in Pakistan. If they are studying in an institute like, for example, Karachi University, how can they be assured that they are safe? How was it possible for a suicide bomber to come and blow herself up inside the premises of such a prominent university? How could the security management of such a renowned educational institution be so weak?
The third important point of concern is the fact that this attack was carried out by a woman. In Pakistani society, women are objects of respect, kindness and honor, and the “ladies first” formula is applied everywhere. But at a time when Pakistan is already going through bad political experiences, how will the emergence of a female suicide bomber affect the future of the country?
All of the above are very serious questions that are forcing Pakistani citizens and the national institutions to think hard. Before the situation gets out of control, the state institutions and government delegations will have to get serious about talking with the organizations representing Balochistan and other communities, in an effort to resolve grievances through mutual consultation.
If the state neglects such matters today, it may face a worse situation tomorrow.
Follow Syed Attaullah Shah on Twitter @SyedAttaullah96.