Attacks in Balochistan and Quetta Kill Hundreds, Showing Pakistani Security Situation is Out Of Control
"There is no place left in Quetta that remains safe for Hazaras, be it an educational institution, school, bus stops, government offices or a marketplace. Public space is increasingly shrinking for us."
Pakistan is falling into civil and political unrest. A recent attack in Balochistan left more than 80 Hazari Shi'ites dead. The suicide bombing occurred in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, and it is the second major attack on the Hazari community this year. The last attack killed 100 Hazaras in January in Quetta. This pattern of violence and horror in Pakistan cannot continue.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant Sunni group in Pakistan, has taken credit for the attacks in Quetta. The extremist militant group has targeted the Shi'ite community in Balochistan as a continuation of the international religious war between the two sects of Islam. In Pakistan, the war continues to be one-sided as the Shi'ite community continues to suffer the brunt of attacks.
A solution to violence in Pakistan no longer focus strictly on the religious groups involved in the violence. Pakistani national security is at issue. Two attacks in the same city in one month, with no successful investigation to reveal the perpetrators, suggest incompetence, tacit consent, or both on the part of Pakistani security forces.
The safety of not only Hazaras but also all Pakistanis is in question. After the first attack in Quetta, Pakistani security forces were put into place to prevent any more attacks. Nevertheless, a massive amount of explosives detonated in the area despite "strict" security.
This has consistently been an issue of local government failure, but the security situation is transforming into a failure on the national level. The government of Punjab has "been looking the other way" for too long now. Many political and religious leaders, both Sunni and Shi'ite, are demanding retribution for the lives lost on the watch of the government. Many are demanding real protection for the groups and monetary payment for the survivors and families of those who were killed.
A tighter whip must be carried by the federal government on national security. Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority, created to protect against domestic terrorism, has remained powerless since its inception via an executive order in 2009. The National Assembly has not confirmed the agency, so it still has no functional power.
Validating an agency like this, rather than asserting military power in Balochistan, is what Pakistan needs in this cycle of crisis. Elections are forthcoming, and the Pakistani people need to elect both local and federal governments that don’t turn a blind eye to terrorism. Pakistanis need a government that is more powerful than the rogue militants that control the war-torn regions of their country. Otherwise, the lives of all Pakistanis will remain hanging by a thread of uncertainty.