Members of the Balochistan Assembly have demanded that the provincial government bring culprits of the Mastung sectarian attack to book, in a resolution passed on Thursday.
Provincial Minister for Quality Education Jan Ali Changezi, who belongs to the Hazara community, tabled a resolution soon after proceedings began. The resolution outlined the attack, saying a passenger bus bound for Iran was intercepted by armed assailants from the banned organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who identified those who were Shia and killed them in cold blood.
“It is condemnable that police and other law enforcing agencies were not visible in the entire attack,” the resolution states.
“The government, it seems, is not serious about stopping the targeted killing of members of the Hazara community,” Changezi told the assembly. “Killings of Shia people have increased this year but in all of those incidents, we have seen no real action on part of the police or the government. Police wasn’t present even at the suicide attack on the Eid congregation and these unabated attacks show the authorities’ failure.”
Today, it is us Shia people who are being targeted, Changezi said, tomorrow people from some other sect or ethnicity could face the same problem.
But Ali Madad Jatak, PPP’s deputy parliamentary leader in the assembly, attempted to dilute the matter by pointing out recent killings of Sunni religious scholars. “People from all ethnic and religious sects are being targeted in Balochistan,” he said, without making reference to any particular sect.
However, Jatak did not stop at that and said that it will not be tolerated if anyone burns shops or markets in Quetta in reaction to any such incident.
This caused uproar in the house as Changezi termed Jatak’s speech a ‘threat’ to his community and, upon intervention from other members, Jatak explained his remarks, saying he condemned the Hazara killings and only meant to assure his fellow minister that the government was working towards ensuring security.
The Mastung attack was the second major attack on the Shia community in Balochistan in the month of September. Following the gruesome assault that killed 26 people, Iran reacted by shutting down the trade gate at the Pakistan border and the Pakistani government is now considering special airline flights for Shia pilgrims to Iran.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.