We do not know when the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will find refuge from the mass killings and violence currently going on there. Even those who are there to look after the area’s security have now become victim to the militants’ barbarity. This time, those killed included the police and military investigators of the Nanga Parbat killings of June 23, in which nine foreign mountaineers and a local guide were killed. The three officials probing that attack were shot dead in Chilas on August 6, and incidentally, the same group — the Jandul Hafsa faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — that claimed the Nanga Parbat attack, claimed this one, as well. While it is welcome that the police have begun arresting suspects, more urgency is needed on their part and on the part of our intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of this matter and arrest the real culprits, in both cases.
G-B Information Minister Muhammad Ismail has called for people not to jump to conclusions “without evidence”, until the government has investigated the attack from various angles. However, if the Jandul Hafsa has claimed responsibility, we are left wondering what the hesitation is to declare this an act of terror and accordingly pursue the group. Somewhat unconvincingly, the G-B Chief Minister, Mehdi Shah, has promised that the killers will be brought to justice. The fact of the matter is that we have heard such statements many times before and given that there is never really a follow-up, in terms of arrest and prosecution of actual culprits, one will have to take all such assurances with a pinch (or perhaps a tablespoonful) of salt. The losses of Superintendent Police Hilal Ahmed, Colonel Ghulam Mustafa and Captain Ashfaq Aziz are tragic. Those who were attempting to seek justice for the 10 trekkers have themselves become victims to the attackers. It is of utmost importance that the provinces and state intelligence coordinate effectively in investigating this matter. We also hope that the new persons placed in charge of seeking justice for the trekkers, as well as for our three recently fallen fellow citizens, are provided with complete security.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.
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