Salma Rasool is from Khuzdar, Balochistan. Her father was murdered by BLA in 2008 for his pro-Pakistani stance. Later her brother was also murdred by same people in 2013. But brave Salma Rasool stood for her family, Balochistan and Pakistan, and is braving the challenges of life.
Human is a supreme creature of the Divine. Everyone is blessed with numerous known or unknown capabilities. His or her life is difficult and complex but some people with their combatant spirit not only overcome the challenges but set an example of inspiration for other fellows as well. Salma Rasool is one of the inspirational illustration of courage and tenacity. Salma was born in a small village of Khuzdar, a district of Balochistan. She belongs to a tribal family as her mother was Mengal and father was from Muhammad Hasni Tribe.
Her father, Mir Ghulam Rasoom Muhammad Hasni, held prominant position in his tribe and was called as Mir. Salma had two sisters and five brothers. She, being the eldest, was very close to her father, who was an enlightened man and always encouraged Salma to express her views and allowed her to accompany him on various gatherings. He, despite all social pressures, enrolled his daughters in Army Public School & College, Khuzdar. Salma completed her 12th grade from the same institution.
Life was smoothly moving for Salma until 17 November 2008, when everything changed for her, and for her family. Her father was brutally murdered by the terrorists of BLA, (Balochistan Liberation Army). She recalls, “my father was a religious and a kind man who always taught us to love Pakistan. That day also, militants trapped him disguising as needy men. We were waiting for him at home and my mother asked me to call him. I made a call but after the first bell, his phone was switched off. We thought he was nearby. But then my maternal uncle entered in the house and told us about the tragedy. It was a dooms day for us. We were not able to believe that it was true. He received 17 bullets and we kept sitting around his bullet riddled body the entire night. My brother Abdul Ghiyas, who was then 15 years old, lost his senses. My seven year old brother later refused to wash his hand saying it had father's blood stain. When I saw bullet in his beautiful face near his eye, I fainted”.
Salma, eldest of her siblings, stood for her family and took all the responsibilities on her shoulders. The dearest and protected daughter of a martyred father suddenly found herself doing things she could never imagine before. Now she had to earn for her family and had to fight for justice.
She says, “my father was Mir of a tribe. He was my friend and my protector. In our tribal society, socialization of men and women is not considered modest. Although I was studying but males other than family could not interact with me due to traditions. But after his death, I had to knock many doors to seek justice for him.”
Her step-brother (as her father had contracted two marriages) deprived them of their entire share in the property. Her real brothers were too young to fight for their rights. She recalled a horrifying night, “once my brother went to get our share of wheat; the step brothers and uncles attacked our home. They were armed and my brothers were kids. The villager helped us to escape on motorbikes. I still remember that scary night; we crossed the dark mountains and reached Khuzdar.”
Salma and her family had to start a new life in Khuzdar. She was then studying in 12th grade and decided to earn a living for her family as she wanted her brothers to continue their studies. She joined Army Public School Khuzdar as a teacher but that wasn't enough to support the family so, she also joined an NGO that used to educate street children. During the same time, she got admission in Degree Girls College Khuzdar and completed her B.Sc. She gives all the credit of her achievements to her mother and brothers.
After graduation, on the advice of their family friends, they shifted to Quetta and hired a house. She joined FG Public School as a teacher and at home, she started giving tuitions. Her brother Abdul Ghiyas was growing up and becoming her support and hope for the family. He started sharing family responsibilities and asked Salma to continue her studies, so she got admission in Law College Quetta.
But those good days did not last for long as another tragedy awaited her family. This time her brother, Abdul Ghiyas was attacked and martyred by the militants. She narrates, “I just reached back Quetta from Khuzdar after Eid vacations. Ghiyas stayed back in Khuzdar for few days. After two days, we received phone call from his friend who told about attack on Ghiyas by armed men. I managed to muster up courage and inquired about his condition from him; upon which I was told that he had been martyred. My brother was also killed due to my father’s ‘sin’ of loving Pakistan. I immediately left for Khuzdar. I am not able to recall how the transportation was arranged, but I reached Khuzdar with no chappel in foot and bare head. We were preparing for his wedding but just two weeks before his wedding, we lost him forever.”
One challenge after the other made her more strong and brave. She then was left with no other option but to come out with more courage and to seek justice for herself, her brother and father. She had a dream to establish an organization to help terrorism affected families. Her efforts eventually paid off in the shape of an organization named, 'Organization for Deserving Victims of Terrorism in Balochistan.' Its opening ceremony would take place during the current month (April 2014).
She explained the need of such an organization, “I requested many of my relatives to file a complaint of my father's murder with police against terrorists but no one was willing to talk against them. They even asked us to stay away from the matter and warned about severe consequences. Some relatives even asked us not to mention that our father was murdered. My father and brother were killed only because they loved Pakistan. They used to raise Pakistani Flag at our house. My brother used to wear badge of Pakistani flag. The fact that the victims' families could never speak against the culprits, I decided to raise voice not just for my family, but for everybody like me. I want to tell the real story of Balochistan to the rest of Pakistan.”
She expresses, “I wish to work for education. We don't have good schools in Balochistan. My father resisted a lot of pressure to educate his daughters. After him, people tried to pressurize my brothers against my education and job. I had to face hurdles at every level. At one point they asked me to stay home and they were ready to abandon their own studies as well but I convinced them. I was never encouraged to study; rather I was advised to get married instead.” In a male dominated society, women like Salma have to fight continuously at various levels. According to Salma, it is another kind of struggle to convince men to take females seriously in any profession. And it is not an easy task, as it takes lots of efforts to make them respect you. Often they come with negative perception about working women and it takes long and hectic efforts to change their perception.
Today, Salma sees a considerable change in people’s behaviours. People don't behave as rude as they used to because she is not helpless and weaker any more.
She wishes to address a gathering one day at the same place where her father was murdered. She is greatly concerned about the youth of Balochistan. She says, “our youth has been misguided. Whoever is fighting against Pakistan is a trapped one. I request them to think and choose their own path; don't allow external powers to exploit them for their vested interests. Our youth is witness to everything; they know who is responsible for the migration of teachers, doctors and other professionals from the province. Love your country, work hard and achieve your goals. This is the only way to gain prosperity in life”. Salma is one of the many Baloch youth who now aim to brave the difficulties and challenges posed by terrorists and with a hope for a peaceful Balochistan. They have decided to stand for Pakistan. They are determined not to let their voices muted by few hooligans who are misguided to the extent of killing people of Balochistan. The message of the Balochistan youth to every one is ‘to stand up against the militancy,’ and defend Balochistan and Pakistan
The writer is a working journalist based in Quetta.
(Courtesy Hilal Magazine)