Three acid attacks on twelve women in the past ten days adds another dimension to insecurity in Balochistan, because while stories of honour killings have often emerged from the province in the past, acid attacks have not been used very frequently in Balochistan, with the first reported incident in 2010. Two more were reported in 2012, and the sudden surge in the last few days is something to be alarmed about. In the recent cases, no connection of the attackers to the victims could be established, and the women escaped serious injuries because they were covered from head to toe, which implies that honour was not at stake. In the third attack on the 29th of last month, the assailants forcibly entered a house and sprayed acid on six women with syringes making it clear that even the presence of women in public places is not the issue. So what then is the motive behind these attacks?
The insurgency in Balochistan, the presence of the army, the tribal system, and rising religious extremism make it a very volatile province. Although Balochistan is very restrictive for women, the Baloch cause is the only thing that has helped blur gender differences with the proactive involvement of women in the struggle. Acid attacks will negate any improvement in women rights in the province, and have already dealt a significant blow to the cause of women’s empowerment. The physical scarring aside, the psychological impact of being burnt makes rehabilitation from these attacks very difficult. As usual, there are no suspects, and the perpetrators walk free, with numerous sightings in surrounding areas that has increased fears that the attacks will continue. Unless the people responsible for these attacks are bought to justice, and unless the simple accessibility of acid is not addressed, Balochistan will be on the receiving end of more violent crimes like the rest of the country, and the frequency and barbarity of attacks motivated by religious and/or gender discrimination will only increase.