How many more deaths?

Published: February 18, 2013

People gather after a bomb targeting Shia Muslims exploded in busy market in Hazara town, an area dominated by Shias on the outskirts of Quetta, on February 16, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

The focus of our counter-terrorism debate has always been the TTP and its base of operations in the tribal areas. Far less attention is paid to the other militant groups that are terrorising the country and as a consequence they are able to operate without hindrance. The February 16 bombing in Quetta, which targeted the Hazara Shia community and killed 80, should hopefully end the silence. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the attack, as they have for many dozens of previous attacks against Shias. This outfit is on a mission to eradicate the Shia community and yet the state is unwilling to take action. The LeJ operates freely throughout the country and its leaders address rallies without worry.

The Shia community, meanwhile, has to live in a constant state of fear and insecurity.

There was a time when the military financially and diplomatically supported anti-Shia militant organisations because they were willing to send people to fight in Kashmir. That policy turned out to be an unmitigated disaster and was even officially disavowed by Pervez Musharraf. These groups may no longer fight in Kashmir but are still waging war against Shias. And yet their former patrons either continue to support them or remain silent about their atrocities. False accusations are flung around, accusing the Shias of being more loyal to Iran than their own country and this is then used as a pretext to justify their killings. At the same time, no one seems to care that these anti-Shia terrorist groups are possibly receiving funding from another foreign country – Saudi Arabia.

The last time there was a heinous attack on the Hazara community, a series of inspiring sit-ins around the country sent out the message that we will not stay silent any longer. As heartening as these shows of solidarity were, they will never be sufficient on their own. Only the state has the power and ability to tackle extremist groups. The solution requires a blend of intelligence work, military action and better law enforcement. It is just the will that seems to be lacking. Until the gravity of the situation is recognised, Shias will continue to be slaughtered and the groups targeting them will become even more powerful and untouchable.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Ali
    Feb 18, 2013 - 2:17AM

    **> There was a time when the military

    financially and diplomatically
    supported anti-Shia militant
    organisations because they were
    willing to send people to fight in
    Kashmir**

    Above could be the reason why military is so confused and worried to step up and take action against these LEJ and other extremist animals. Who knows what is the strength of these jihadis ? how many they trained ? how deep inside military they penetrate. In my opinion the military wants to do some thing but its stuck and helpless

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  • Roni
    Feb 18, 2013 - 2:36AM

    How many more deaths? As long as all the Shia and other sects are not finished! This is a sad truth not a joke.

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  • Mirza
    Feb 18, 2013 - 2:38AM

    Why is it that only Shia and liberals are massacred while the rightwing leaders and Whabi have the freedom to do whatever they want. Let us negotiate these groups, no certainly not.

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  • Avtar
    Feb 18, 2013 - 3:23AM

    The partition of the sub-continent may not have occurred had Muslim League been forthright that Pakistan was only for Sunnis, not Shias or any other minority.

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  • gp65
    Feb 18, 2013 - 4:02AM

    “There was a time when the military financially and diplomatically supported anti-Shia militant organisations because they were willing to send people to fight in Kashmir. “

    JAb boya ped babool ka to aam kahaan se khaoge.

    Even now there is greater concern about Afzal Guru’s hanging after due process of law than the killing of 80 people in Quetta. Even though Pakistani army talks the talk about the key dangers being internal, it does not walk the walk by deliberately keeping the temperature warm on the LOC. Which normal person believes that a person could cross 10 feet tall barbed wire fence inadvertently?

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  • ASIF
    Feb 18, 2013 - 4:32AM

    Security agencies are living luxurious lives with our tax money but can’t protect us.

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  • Gujjar
    Feb 18, 2013 - 5:39AM

    Pakistan nurtured snakes to use against India and Afghanistan. Now they are biting the hands which raised them. This is what happen when you dig a hole to harm your neighbor, you will be the one who fall in the hole. Karma is paying back very badly, it always does…

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  • Feroz
    Feb 18, 2013 - 5:56AM

    When the will is lacking what is the point in writing a long essay. It has been done countless times already.

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  • Feb 18, 2013 - 7:38AM

    Overall a brave editorial by ET….. Thank you

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  • Lord
    Feb 18, 2013 - 10:02AM

    Our military is more loyal to Saudia Arabia than Pakistan and KSA which will become unhappy fi any sort of action is taken against there ideological heirs in Pakistan . Military middle and lower brass is plagued heavily with this extremist mind set. Same was pointed out by Saleem shahzad the journalist who paid the ultimate price for writing actual behind the scene story which led to attack on PNS Mehran.

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  • sars
    Feb 18, 2013 - 10:13AM

    Untill the TTP and the LJ are completely wiped out , this will continue. The army needs to take action and forget all its past concerns

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  • SM
    Feb 18, 2013 - 12:59PM

    Two-nations theory in play gentlemen!

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Feb 18, 2013 - 1:43PM

    @SM: ” … Two-nations theory in play gentlemen! … “

    So, according to you British India should not have been partitioned ? India would have been at the mercy of idiots who take a book too seriously.

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  • gp65
    Feb 18, 2013 - 1:48PM

    @sars: You cannot pick and choose good and bad terrorist i.e. eliminate LeJ and TTP but keep LeT and JeM. The same infrastructure feeds both. You have to decide if you hate India more or love Pakistan more.

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  • Abdullah
    Feb 18, 2013 - 3:23PM

    Dear Govt & Military

    make peace in country before UN will come and bust you all and make one more east timor & south sudan

    regards
    one pakistani

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  • Syed
    Feb 18, 2013 - 11:32PM

    I want to know the answer too. How many more deaths?Recommend

  • Zalmai
    Feb 19, 2013 - 7:01PM

    Pashtuns have been at the receiving end of the terror and carnage meted out by everyone and their mother for two hundred years, its time their pain and sorrow is felt by others in the region.

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