The brutal targeted killings of the Hazara ethnic minority in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan province of Pakistan marked another sad chapter for this minority community. Since 2001, Quetta has turned into a bleeding graveyard for the Shiite community. Saturday, February 16, 2013 was regarded the bloodiest day for the Hazara community in Pakistan when around 100 people were killed and more than 300 others were left critically injured by a bomb hidden in a water tank that exploded at a market in Hazara Town, the capital city of Balochistan.
According to recent update, the death toll is expected to rise due to the large number of serious and most critical injuries. Most of the victims are the children, women, old men and other daily wagers who are said to be the only breadwinners of their families. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned armed group has claimed the responsibility for this deadly attack.
A similar attack had claimed more than 115 lives just a month ago and injured more than 270 others, which led to the dismissal of the provincial government as retribution. Such dared evil acts of lawlessness and terror have now become a modus operandi across the whole Pakistan that only targeted the Hazara minority, including other Shiite communities, for example in Karachi that is witnessing target killings on a daily basis.
The Hazara community, including other victims of such terror attacks had several protests against the lawlessness and weakness of their government, but the government of Pakistan until now did not take a single helpful action to hunt-down such banned armed groups that publically challenge the government. One of the leaders of Lashkar-e- Jhangavi, publically announced, “I am killing the Shias in all Pakistan and will continue killing them until I turned Pakistan the graveyard of Shiite communities.”
However, the recent protests of Shiite communities in whole world forced the government of Pakistan to overthrow Raisani, the provincial governor of Balochistan. On this basis, the government of Pakistan introduced the Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi when he squarely laid the blame for unrest on the intelligence agencies and law-enforcement machinery. Magsi, who had been empowered by the federal government to take stringent actions against the miscreants, nonetheless, believes that the state doesn’t seem to be effective in supporting him hunt down these illegal armed groups.
As of now, Pakistan, particularly Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan is going through a difficult point of time and none seems to have a clue as to what would be the fate of Shiite community that is constantly targeted by the illegal armed groups.
But the key issues that need to be concerned noticeably show how militant outfits, whether it’s Sipah Sahaba that later morphed into Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan will continue to destabilize the state, unless intensive efforts are taken to root them out once and for all. Any government that cannot provide its citizens security, irrespective of their ideological inclination or ethnic affiliations, needs not to only review but address the insufficiency and lack of internal credibility.
Thousands of people, right after the Saturdays attack are protesting in Quetta city and they are demanding from the government to take serious actions to bring about abrupt changes in the ongoing scenario.
People’s demand from the government:
1. Army must take the control of Balochistan and start targeted operation against the militant groups.
2. Take immediate action against the extremist militant group, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, and banned terrorized outfit in Pakistan and add them in blacklist.
3. All those involved in supporting terrorist organization, ministers, security officers and who so ever is supporting them should be arrested and brought to justice.
It is extremely unfortunate for the government of Pakistan that things have come to a boiling point as the government showed complete helplessness in protecting its citizens. Demands being made by the Shiite community, not just in Balochistan but countrywide, for the army to take control of the province and target the extremists are indicative of a collapse in governance and law and order while the government keeps quite and ignores their demands. The silence of government in this regard seems to be a backup for these banned terrorist groups who spoiled peace and stability not only in Pakistan, but in the whole world, particularly its neighboring countries who suffer the worst.
What the Pakistan People’s Party government does at this point is crucial for the good of their own nation and its state. It is currently engaged in hobbling together a caretaker setup to take over the reins in March. However, the lack of trust and confidence in the government is now at a record high due to its helplessness and non-transparency. What is particularly disturbing is how all those in authority are blaming everyone but themselves and refusing to take any responsibility regarding all these genocide and bloodshed. At least, until the time of writing, nobody has offered to resign. For Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi, the local security forces in his words were either “too scared or clueless” to act despite being given a free hand to take action against extremists in all parts of the province.
Calling upon the government, many agree with government’s rundown. The reason is that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari owing to its pathetic political compromises with allies and adversaries is in a confused state of mind. All its synergies are diverted at coalition hobnobbing. The army, which had successfully dealt with militancy in Swat and the tribal areas, has taken a back seat and has been waiting in the wings of political administrations to dispense its duties as and when ordered.
While reading the ground realities that is evident from the fact that Balochistan administration did not call in the army to aid the civil administration for reasons of political emergency. This is an alarming situation. Until and unless vested support to disgruntled elements ends and an across the board operation is carried out against militants, things will only go worst. Perhaps, it’s the absolute time for apolitical action in Balochistan against these wild killer groups.
Above all, the bloodshed in Pakistan will continue to reach the house of Zadari even if the government keeps silence. There is zero tolerance for terrorism and growing apathy for a leadership that failed to provide security protection for its citizens. This is something the politicians must remind themselves of with every passing day as they brace for a new electoral phase. There was a time when Pakistan was meant to be a safe haven for its minorities too. It is about time the country’s politicians learnt to read the grim future in the splattering of blood in Quetta and turn the tide before it is too late and the terrorist groups reach in the houses of all high profile government authorities.
The Article was first published in the Daily Afghanistan Express on February 26, 2013.