Another brick in the wall. Or, better, another way to complete the genocide of Baloch. This is how people from the region describe the situation on the field.
Pilgrims coming back from Iran, and other people from the region who might have tested positive have been taken and locked up into a so-called ‘quarantine facility’ near Quetta, in Taftan.
But more than a quarantine facility, the place, according to locals, looks like the waiting room of Hell.
‘Not A Quarantine Camp, But an Incubator for Coronavirus’
“It is not a quarantine camp, but an incubator for the deadly virus. Thousands arriving from Iran have been forcibly quarantined in tents with sheer overcrowding. No tests have been carried out on these people, neither have any symptoms been observed. Nowhere in the world have we seen this extent of blanket quarantines,” Baloch journalist Sohaib Mengal told this author.
“The conditions in Taftan camp are perfect grounds to exponentially increase the spread of the virus, as due to overcrowding, the virus can spread very quickly. In fact, the vast majority of the cases in Pakistan can be traced back to this so-called quarantine facility. I believe this whole issue is a perfect example of administrative mismanagement that the people of Balochistan have been subjected to. On top of this, Balochistan has almost no adequate critical care units or enough ventilators or equipments to treat the victims of the virus. It is such a sorry state, as Balochistan has such abundance of natural resources, but it is treated as a colony by the Pakistani state,” Sohaib Mengal continues.
Taftan ‘Quarantine’ Camp: People Piled Up Like Goods
In the camp, not even basic facilities like toilets exist; people are piled up and stocked like goods or herds, there's little or no food, and not even the phantom of hygiene. No antiseptics – not even simple soap – no distance between people. There are no doctors: first of all, because the camp is run by the Army and not by any hospital or medical aid organisation; and second, because in Balochistan there are very few doctors, and for a good reason. Most of them are missing, some are missing for more than a decade. The young ones, the ones not already taken by ISI and their goons, are threatened and beaten up by the Army and Police.
The few doctors around, including those trying to bring relief in Taftan, don’t have any kind of equipment – not even masks or gloves.
And the situation outside the camp is not much better. Balochistan is in fact the worst region in Pakistan for healthcare facilities, and is the least equipped one. Quetta is the only city with a tertiary care hospital, so is the only place from where people can get some specialistic medical care. Small cities have only basic facilities, while in rural areas there are only 'skeletons' of hospitals – abandoned buildings with no doctors, no equipment, and no nurses inside.
Local Govt Posts ‘Fake’ Photo of Emergency Meeting
People still die of malaria, of any kind of disease, even the ones easily treated elsewhere. The data is scary when it comes to women and children. Maternal, newborn and child health indicators are the worst in the whole Pakistan.
The maternal mortality ratio is 785/100,000 live births, neonatal mortality ratio is 34/1,000 live births, and the infant mortality ratio is 66/1,000 live births.
Moreover, deliveries assisted by skilled birth attendants in a medical facility are only 30 percent. Plus, there are still children dying of polio, because ‘mullahs’ don't allow doctors to give inoculations.
Going back to the coronavirus situation and related diseases, not only are the doctors in Quetta not equipped and hence scared to treat patients, but in the whole of Balochistan, there are only three available ventilators.
This means that only three patients at a time can be treated. That too if they are lucky to live near the place where the ventilator is, and to get there in time. The others can be left to die, and they are dying in most cases without even being tested. The local government, when asked to face the situation, posted a photoshopped picture of a fake meeting called by the chief minister of the region.
‘Genocide’ of Balochistan?
In the Punjab region, just to highlight the difference, the number of ventilators is 600. Dr Naseem Baloch, member of the Baloch National Movement, points out: “One can just imagine what is happening after the coronavirus outbreak in Balochistan. Pakistan benefits from our resources, and tests its nuclear weapons on us. After atomic radiations, it is time to spread coronavirus in Balochistan.” The Taftan ‘quarantine’ centre is such an example.
People from different areas have been kept together under unsafe conditions. The camp is run by the Pakistan Army.
“They want to give relief to their areas, and leave us with coronavirus. On the other hand, Pakistan is hoping to get the aid of IMF and WHO, and others, to deal with the emergency. This means they'll benefit twice from the pandemic: they'll get money from IMF and other organisations, and will finalise the genocide of the Baloch nation,” Dr Naseem Baloch continues.
(Francesca Marino is a journalist and a South Asia expert who has written ‘Apocalypse Pakistan’ with B Natale. She tweets at @francescam63. This is a personal blog, and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)