While the horror of the attack on a busload of Karachi’s Ismailis lingers on, terrorists struck on Friday in Balochistan as well as Lahore. Armed men stopped two Karachi-bound buses in the Mastung district, and after checking the passengers ID cards took away 30 men. They killed 22 of the abductees, but released five of them, apparently, after clearing confusion about their identity. Some are still missing.
Victims’ distraught relatives took the bodies of their near and dear ones to the Governor’s House in Quetta to protest the state of law and order, and seek protection for the survivors. Sadly, this has become a familiar scene. In Lahore, a suicide bomber exploded when a police sub-inspector embraced martyrdom while trying to stop him near the Qadhafi Stadium, where a Pak-Zim match was in progress. Foolproof security and bravery of officer saved the situation.
One of the several separatist groups, the United Baloch Army (UAB), claimed the responsibility for the Mastung atrocity. The possibility of Indians supporting separatist groups cannot be ruled out, either. A few days ago, Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar indirectly lent strength to the usual suspicion of India have a hand in stoking violence in this country, saying “we have to neutralise terrorists through terrorists only, … we should do it, why does my soldier have to do it” and added that he could not say more on the subject. It is possible that India has had a hand in both incidents in Mastung and Lahore. As a matter of fact, all three suspects – the Baloch separatists, sectarian terrorists and minister Parrikar’s men – have a common interest in destabilising this country for the achievement of their respective objectives. As an adversary India, especially under the Modi government, should be expected to exploit Pakistan’s internal troubles to inflict harm. Instead of pointing finger at others, Islamabad must try and neutralise different sources of trouble at home.
So far the government has shown a weak resolve to confront violent extremists. Given the nature of the threat, the Zarb-e-Azb alone is not going to end terrorism. Unfortunately, however, there is little movement even on the issues already identified in the National Action Plan (NAP). As reports emanating from the recent civil and military leadership meeting in Islamabad showed, basic issues such as stopping foreign funding of seminaries and sectarian groups, streamlining the affairs of seminaries, and deactivating proscribed organisations, are still awaiting action.
The proposed Counter-Terrorism Authority is nowhere to be seen. The apathy on display is incomprehensible considering that this is a country where terrorists have claimed more than 55,000 lives (no one has bothered to establish the exact figure). Similarly, there is no change in the policy towards Baloch insurgents. Like before, the provincial government appears to be powerless in dealing with the problem.
The result is relentless violence. This must change. The government should talk to the insurgents who are willing to talk and employ maximum force against those who refuse to renounce violence.
The Text has been appeared in the Editorial of Business Recorder today !!