Critical situation in Balochistan

Unknown gunmen opened fire at a local passenger van in Quetta on Saturday, killing 11 Shia Muslims and injuring three others. Inspector General (IG) Police Balochistan Rao Amin Hashim said, “Unidentified gunmen riding [a motorbike] opened fire at a Suzuki van carrying a group of people on their way to the main city from Hazara town.” This comes a day after seven Shia pilgrims were killed by unknown assailants in Quetta. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a banned outfit, claimed responsibility for both attacks. The LeJ is notorious for its sectarian agenda and over the decades has killed countless Shia Muslims. One of LeJ’s founding members, Malik Ishaq, was recently released from prison after 14 years. Sectarian violence in Balochistan has also increased over the years but the government’s inadequate response in this regard is shameful. The security forces are busy killing Baloch nationalists while turning a blind eye to the sectarian violence in the province. Nothing has been done so far despite the frequent attacks on the Shia populace in Balochistan.

At a football stadium in Mastung, a bomb attack claimed the lives of at least two people, including Balochistan Chief Minister (CM) Nawab Aslam Raisani’s nephew on Friday. It seems that the real target was CM Raisani’s brother, Siraj Raisani. The attack could very well be in retaliation for the atrocities being committed in Balochistan by our security forces. It is not yet clear which group is behind this attack but it shows that the insurgents in Balochistan are coming closer to the Balochistan government. In another incident, a Quetta-bound passenger train was attacked with a remote-controlled bomb near Dera Allah Yar. Fortunately, there were no casualties. For some time, Baloch insurgents have targeted gas pipelines and other infrastructure.

The security situation in Balochistan is escalating and arguably getting out of hand. A political solution cannot be reached unless and until the military operation does not end in the province. The state of Pakistan must realise how dire the consequences could be for our country if things go on like this.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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