The young lecturer, a member of a Pashtun family from Kakar tribe hailed from District Qilla Abdullah but had lived most of his life in Quetta, capital of Balochistan and did not have the faintest idea about the price he will have to pay for solidarity with the Baloch people.
As he lay on the hospital bed bleeding after receiving an ISI assassin’s bullets in is body, the vice chancellor of the university, Farooq Bazai, who allegedly works closely for the Pakistan spy services, sent him his dismissal letter.
“My family has been closely associated with the struggle for Pashtun rights, reforms and freedom of the oppressed nations in Pakistan,” says Najeeb Khan, who lives with his wife and two sons in Albany, New York. “My uncle was assassinated in 1990 in Kabul by the Pakistani intelligence in Kabul because of being a Pashtun patriot. I have always seen myself as a successor to my uncle’s politics.”
In 2011, he joined the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering, and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) as a lecturer. During my work tenure there, he says he saw firsthand horrible human rights abuses in Balochistan by the Pakistani Military Intelligence and infamous spy service ISI against the Baloch people.
“I have with my own eyes seen extremely tortured bodies of my own Baloch students and coworkers at the hands of Pakistani Army. Watching these atrocities first hand, brought me close to the Balochistan movement for liberty and justice.”
Khan remembers August and September of 2013 as the toughest months of his life and professional career. He had founded the academic staff association in BUITEMS to encourage lecturers and teachers from different Balochistan Universities and colleges to come forward and speak on burning issues of the day that Baloch people were facing, to expose the Pakistan- China monstrous collaboration in exploitation of Baloch resources in the form of CPEC, and the copper and gold projects.
The association was demanding protection to academic staff and students of the universities against state atrocities and to hold open discussion on the topics like right of Baloch self-determination, and victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan. “Our work was relevant since most of those abducted by the security agencies were students, some professors like Saba Dashtyari were assassinated and others were were among the forcibly disappeared persons,” Khan explained.
He said, “Since I was the founding member of the academic staff association at BUITEMS, I faced enormous pressure straight from the ISI and the Vice Chancellor’s Office,” Khan said. “They wanted me to give up on the cause, write an apology letter and demolish the association. All our executive members were already suspended by the BUITEMS and subsequently many of them were fired. Some of our cabinet members were put behind bars.”
Though he was not arrested, Khan was asked to report in the security guard’s room 9 am to 5 pm every day and wasn’t allowed to enter the university premises or communicate with any staff member.
“That continued until the day I was shot by ISI on October 06, 2013 when I was going home after a meeting with our association members at a café,” Khan recall. He was walking back home around 10 pm on a downtown road called Patel Road, when two persons on a motorbike came close to him.
“They were both wearing helmets. I found it starnge as most people don’t wear helmets in Quetta. I saw one of them take out a gun and tried to run in a narrow side street but he opened fire,” he said. The first bullet hit him on his shoulder and he fell down. “He fired three more bullets and one hit me in the hip. Thankfully, I could still get up and managed to flee. When I reached close to my house my two neighbors saw me all blood and rushed me to the Quetta Sandeman civil hospital,” he says. The bullet had pierced through his muscles.
“I was still in the hospital when the university called to inform me they have a letter for me. A clerk of the university came to the hospital to give me my the letter. When I opened the envelope, it was my termination letter,” he recalls. Two other faculty members, Hammal Baloch and Farman Kakar were also sacked. “The vice chancellor who fired us has been on his post for 11 years now though generally the vice chancellor position is for three years or at best four years,” said Kakar.
He said he was indeed expecting consequences for siding with the Baloch cause. “But honestly, I wasn’t expecting any physical attack uptil that point. I thought it would be only limited to my career, which was in any case at its worst ebb,” he says.
He was fortunate that at the time he was carrying a multiple visit visa of the US. “My father strictly told me to leave. So I arrived in the US no sooner than I healed somewhat on October 23, 2013,” he said. The reason why his father wanted to put him out of harms way was that Khan’s uncle Ameenullah Kakar, a Russian-educated doctor was killed by the ISI in Kabul.
Khan urges the Pashtuns and Afghans to stand with the people of Balochistan for their fundamental right to self-determination, in their own national interests. “In fact, Pakistan army and ISI and their religious proxies are determined not only to annihilate the Baloch, but also to wipe out the educated Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand line,” Khan emphasizes. He says he care two hoots about pro-Pakistan Pashtuns called Gul Khanas, who have lost their national pride and are slavishly serving the army generals of Pakistan.