The bomb blast that killed at least 13 people and injured 22 others at the Bismillah Hotel located along the National Highway in Dera Allahyar in the Jaffarabad district of Balochistan is tragic. Even the auspicious name of the hotel, open in the afternoon during Ramazan to serve travellers, could not prevent the loss of life of innocent people. Still greater loss could have been caused had a second bomb, attached to a gas pipeline a short distance away, not been defused.
There is something a trifle mysterious about this attack and others before it. Responsibility has reportedly been claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Tigers, yet another shadowy Baloch group to suddenly appear on the scene. A spokesman for the group has said that people marking Pakistan’s Independence Day were targeted by the explosion. This is again very odd. There is no evidence that the people travelling along the highway were in any way engaged in marking the national holiday. It is unclear if the hotel itself had put up a Pakistan flag or other emblem of celebration. The fact is, we simply do not know the truth about what is going on in Balochistan. All we know is that there is consistent violence; too much of it. But it is almost impossible to say who is behind the killings and the mayhem caused by them. Intelligence agencies have been linked to some of the atrocities in the province and there have been vague allegations that some of the ‘nationalist’ groups are in fact their creation. The possibility that the attack is not the work of a genuine nationalist force cannot be ruled out. But then it is also a fact that these groups too have been engaged in terrorism of all kinds. Balochistan at the moment represents a kind of maze through which it is hard to find a way and discover the truth. This poses enormous problems of its own. A good start would be to implement the recommendations that were made by two committees under the previous government in that they addressed both constitutional and socio-economic concerns of the people of the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.