Balochistan, despite a downturn in violent incidents in recent times, remains the terrorist’s grisly playground
Yet again, it was the poor and the innocent that were in the crosshairs of the terrorists. Horror and carnage returned to Quetta on the evening of October 19 when a bomb, probably planted in luggage on the roof, ripped through a crowded bus. As many as 11 died and around 24 were injured, some of whom are likely to succumb to their injuries. Balochistan, despite a downturn in violent incidents in recent times, remains the terrorist’s grisly playground. Reports suggest that most of the passengers on the bus were poor labourers returning from work — which may indicate that they were targeted for being something other than ethnic Baloch, but thus far nobody is claiming responsibility.
There are at least three separate violent strands to the many afflictions of Balochistan. The religious extremists of varying adherences, the separatist groups that are far from united themselves, and as a subset of the separatists, the avowedly sectarian groups. This adds up to a complex environment of competing and conflicting groups, all of which have the common purpose of wreaking havoc among those least able to protect themselves, the most vulnerable and the poorest end of society as a whole.
The victims are invariably those who have no political power and no voice. They are buried in their hundreds every year and those who survive attacks lead lives blighted by disability, far from the headlines and noticed by nobody. The terrorising of the weak appears to have done little or nothing to advance the cause of any of the groups committing atrocities. The response of assorted governments over decades has been either equivocal or the imposition of state-sanctioned suppression in various forms that has only served to alienate the people of Balochistan. There has been no effective engagement by any government that might point to a political solution and in the midst of all this India is stoking the fires behind the scenes. Despite the recent lull in atrocities committed by all sides, there has been no attempt to capitalise on a period of relative quiescence, no matter how it was achieved. An oversight worthy of rectification.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2015.
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