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Karima Baloch buried in Pakistan amid high security

Karima Baloch. — ANI file
Karima Baloch. — ANI file

Quetta - Pakistani activist who died in exile in Canada was brought home and laid to rest in her home village


Published: Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:24 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:28 PM

A Pakistani dissident and woman rights activist who died in exile in Canada last month was brought home and laid to rest in her home village in the southwestern Baluchistan province under tight security, activists said on Monday.

Only the immediate family of 37-year-old Karima Baloch were allowed to attend her funeral on Sunday in the village of Tump in Baluchistan.

Her supporters claim that Pakistani troops had sealed off the village and prevented them from attending her burial. Her remains were brought to Pakistan from Canada earlier on Sunday.

Baloch’s body was found on December 22 near Toronto’s downtown waterfront, a place that she liked and often visited, a day after she was reported missing. Toronto police have not treated her death as suspicious though there were allegations by her supporters that she was killed.

A fierce critic of Pakistani spy agencies that are often accused of abducting activists in Baluchistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, she was granted asylum in Canada in 2016. Her death has raised suspicions among rights activists, who on Monday denounced authorities for holding the funeral in near secrecy.

“It is appalling to see how Karima Baloch’s body was treated,” said Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker from Pakistan’s former tribal regions who campaigns for Pashtun minority right but like Baloch, has also criticised Pakistani spy agencies.

“It is not difficult to understand how this will deepen the divide and fuel separatism,” he tweeted. “Is this the strategy to deal with the Baloch insurgency, to sprinkle salt on the wounds of Baloch?”

There was no immediate comment from the government, but a video that surfaced on social media shows soldiers turning back several mourners who are heard in the footage saying they wanted to pay their last respects to Baloch.

Angered over the situation, a Baloch nationalist group — the Baloch Solidarity Committee — issued a call for a daylong strike and complete shutdown in Baluchistan on Monday. Its statement said Pakistani troops spirited Baloch’s coffin on its arrival from Canada and foiled a move by her supporters to hold her funeral in Karachi, instead taking her remains to her home village.

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