Ten labourers were killed in the Dasht area of Mastung district, about 25 kilometres from Quetta, in a brutal incident, where the assailants lined up the workers along the road side where they were working and sprayed them with bullets. This cold-blooded incident indicates that violence is taking an increasingly bold style in the province, despite repeated statements from law-enforcement agencies and the government falsely reassuring the people that things are being brought under control. The manner of killing was also shocking, carried out methodically and in execution style with many witnesses around. The fear without which perpetrators of such crimes are running amok in the province, carrying out such gruesome attacks, is a serious affront to the authorities and those in charge, who have failed on numerous counts to provide security to the people of Balochistan.
The fact that the murdered workers were all residents of Quetta has been emphasised by the local administration. But the undeniably unfortunate fact is that all the victims were essentially of Pakhtun origin. This then makes it another grisly crime based on ethnic hatred, furthering the now much obvious pattern of ethnic cleansing that has become characteristic of Balochistan, over the past few years. As the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan pointed out in a recent report, such murders have increased since the 2006 killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, who had come to be seen as a symbol of the nationalist cause. Rage among Baloch nationals has run high ever since his death.
The chief minister of the province, the country’s president and others, have all expressed regret. The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party has staged protests in Quetta. But all this is not enough. It does not take us any closer to solution. Further action is required to rectify this state of affairs. The party should begin with an effort to bring all stakeholders to the negotiation table, so that their problems, their concerns and their suggestions can be discussed consensually. Only after this happens can some progress be made to restore some measure of peace and stability in the otherwise trouble-ridden province, the future of which seems extremely bleak.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2012.
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