LeJ unleashed, again

There is no safety for the Shias in Pakistan. Three Hazara Shias were killed yesterday when they were on their way to Quetta. According to reports, they were asked to get off their passenger van, lined up and shot dead. The modus operandi is the same as in the case of the Shia pilgrims who were shot dead a few days ago in Mastung by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). The Punjab government has placed LeJ’s leader, who was released from jail this July after 14 years, under temporary house arrest. Rahim Yar Khan’s police chief, Sohail Chattha, said that Ishaq’s behaviour endangered “sectarian harmony and caused a sudden rise in sectarian temperature in the country”. It is not yet clear what purpose would be served by putting Ishaq under temporary detention for a few days. Men like Malik Ishaq should be put behind bars for life instead of being released due to ‘lack of evidence’. They are a threat to society. Unfortunately, our legal system has no answer in the face of lacunae in our laws. People cannot be held indefinitely under the law. The need of the hour is to have proper legislation in place that can make provisions to put known terrorists in prison due to the very fact that Pakistan is afflicted with terrorism and sectarian terrorism is back with a vengeance.

Iran has shown its anger at the ongoing Shia massacre by closing the trade gate between the two countries for an indefinite period. Transporters have also suspended the Quetta-Taftan service in protest at the Mastung incident; they have demanded security for passengers. On the one hand Pakistan is trying to woo Iran for a gas pipeline while on the other, our authorities are alienating Iran by turning a blind eye to sectarian violence. The Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice has taken suo motu notice of the Mastung killings and issued notices to the federal and provincial governments. It is important that the government and the security establishment wake up and stop terrorist outfits from fanning sectarianism in the country once again. The sectarian legacy in Pakistan dates back to General Ziaul Haq’s brutal regime but successive governments, be they civilian or military, have failed to roll back that legacy. Pakistani society is increasingly seeing the incremental rise of intolerance and fanaticism. This must be stopped.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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