Yet another attack


Quetta woke up to a blast on Friday which claimed 20 innocent lives including eight Hazaras while 48 others were injured. According to the provincial police chief, it was an improvised explosive device that had been hidden among vegetables in a market whereas the Balochistan Home Minister in his press conference later said it was a suicide bombing, however it did not target any particular community.

A statement issued by the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan has clearly stated that the Hazara community was a prime target which contradicts the government’s stance.

Being Shias, the Hazara community has been terrorized in the past few years in which hundreds of Hazaras were martyred by the terrorists. By some estimates, over 1,400 incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have taken place in the province since 1999. This is not merely a sectarian conflict; it is genocide. It is shameful for Pakistan that the killing of the Hazara community continues despite so many anti-terrorism efforts.

Most of the attacks against the Hazara community in Quetta have behind them bigoted sectarian motives, and banned outfits such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jamaatul Ahrar, and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan usually claim responsibility for these crimes.

This shows that for terrorists targeting Shias may be a pretext to keep the people terrorized. For them humanity has no meanings. Behind the garb of religiosity they are monsters who do not hesitate to spill the blood of innocent citizens.

While intelligence failure can be attributed to the success of terrorists to perpetrate the heinous crime, certain facts, based on past evidence, show that TTP is enjoying safe sanctuaries in neighbouring Afghanistan. It is being mentored by hostile neighbours who do not want peace in the region and thrive on a war economy in order to keep the region destabilized.

Violence has although dropped significantly in Pakistan yet this incident reminds everyone in the country that the TTP may be down but it certainly is not out.  And that we cannot lower our guards, especially at a crucial juncture when Afghanistan is heading towards a rapprochement between the US and the Taliban. The forces inimical to peace wouldn’t allow stability in Afghanistan for an unstable Afghanistan makes an easy sanctuary to cause unrest in Pakistan and Iran.

There is a need for the government to seriously implement the National Action Plan to sanitize extremist and obscurantist tendencies from the society. Pakistan is a multicultural and multi-religious society where all citizens have equal rights. No group or party could be allowed to monopolize the religion or dictate their agenda. There is no room for extremism in the Pakistani society. And no one is above the law. Those who strive to promote an obscurantist agenda need to be dealt with iron hand.

Moreover, the reaction to the incident so far from the government has been lukewarm. The government that has the responsibility to protect its citizens does not sound any different from the opposition or for that matter any external agency that has issued a statement condemning the incident.

The ministers, leaving the stale-sounding condemnation statements to the opposition and prayers to the hapless families, should rather decisively clampdown on the perpetrators of this crime and report back like any government worth its name would do.