Balochistan target killings : A wake up call

Monday saw an escalation of violence in different parts of Balochistan, where two fatal attacks once again highlighted the sectarian and ethnic quandary of the province. Mohammad Ashfaq, a senior educationist at the Pak-German Technical Training Centre was gunned down in Hub while a bomb planted in a rickshaw exploded on Airport Road in Quetta killing two and injuring 15. Without any loss of life reported, three bomb devices were defused by the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) in Quetta and the home of senior Balochistan National Party member Arbab Nawaz Mengal in Khuzdar was attacked with a hand grenade. These four instances have highlighted the intense tension under which the Baloch masses live, on any given day.

The main target in the rickshaw bombing was reported to be Shia scholar Allama Najfi, who escaped unhurt. This attack is just one in the continuum of sectarian killings on Shia processions, leaders, and imambargahs in Balochistan, directed more often than not at the Hazara Shias who have a distinct presence in the province.

The murder of an academic is even more disturbing as it shows how many of the nationalists are turning to more extreme acts to highlight their grievances. To gun down someone who has been imparting knowledge to the already impoverished masses just because he happened originally to hail from Punjab is arguably losing the nationalists support for their cause.

It is alleged that the security forces have been targeting moderate and popular Baloch parliamentarians such as Arbab Nawaz Mengal for misguided reasons. Such extra-judicial attempts will only drive even moderate nationalist elements into the arms of the armed struggle brigade.

This new strategy of the nationalists to engage in indiscriminate target killings and a resurgence of sectarian killings should serve as a wake up call for the government. When the Baloch feel like you are not listening, results as devastating as Monday’s events will surface with even more impunity and increasing frequency. The nationalists resent the constant crushing of their people by successive governments at the Centre through ruthless suppression and military operations, of which the ongoing one is the fifth since independence. It is time to seek a political settlement. The Aghaaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package can never achieve the desired results in this climate of oppression. The government needs to talk to the angry Baloch who have taken matters into their own hands, with increasingly devastating results.

Source : DT Editorial



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