Death, it appears, is not willing to leave the denizens of this god-forsaken land. Those who kill, strike with impunity, and it seems that the state has all but abandoned its duty of protecting the lives of its citizens. Clearly, Fata is not the only place where the writ of the state runs very thin, because most parts of Balochistan seem to have descended into anarchy and complete lawlessness, as demonstrated by the attack on a bus carrying Shia pilgrims in which 13 lost their lives. This follows yet another massacre, which had targeted the Hazara Shia as well, less than a fortnight ago in Mastung where 26 lives were lost. One would have thought that after that tragedy, the government would have provided adequate security to buses carrying pilgrims but that clearly did not happen, or Tuesday’s carnage may have been avoided. The Mastung massacre was claimed by the banned sectarian outfit, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and it is possible that it may have again been involved.
Perhaps the same group is active once more; perhaps other forces but who share the same dangerous ideology and are allied with the LeJ are responsible. (It should be remembered that sectarian groups such as the LeJ are closely allied with the Taliban, the same people that the government is contemplating negotiating with.) What is alarming is that these forces appear to be fanning out, creating more and more animosity between groups in a society where too much distrust exists in the first place.
What we have also witnessed through the years is the inability of our security forces to deal with the problem. It is hard to understand why groups like the LeJ remain able to carry out operations across the country. Clearly, our intelligence agencies are failing in tracking their activities and plans or else these attacks would not be happening with such alarming regularity. Given the recent past, it may well be a case not of inability but rather a lack of will, at least among some element’s in the state’s security apparatus. After all, what else can explain the occurrence of two such massacres targeting the Shia Hazara in Balochistan, in a matter of two weeks?
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2011.