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In grip of violence again

In recent months, violence has started to increase once again in Balochistan. Yesterday, five people were killed and one injured as unidentified gunmen opened fire at a vehicle on the city’s Kasi Road. The deceased were on way to Hazar Ganji Sabzi Mandi when their vehicle was targeted by the assailants. Eerier last week, Jhal Magsi was subjected to terror attack. Once again, as has happened repeatedly over the past 10 years, a major Sufi shrine has been struck, killing 20 people and injuring at least 26 others in the Jhal Magsi area of Balochistan. The suicide bomber struck at what is primarily a Shia shrine, but one also visited regularly by Sunnis during the ‘urs’ of Pir Rakhel Shah, one of the mystics who was among the Sufis who spread Islam across the Subcontinent in the 13th century. While millions of Pakistani Muslims continue to follow the essentially tolerant, peaceful beliefs of the Sufis, the movement has recently come under increasing attack from extremists. This is the latest in the series of sectarian attacks that have struck Balochistan, with Shias the primary target. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State, further revealing the threat this extremist organization poses to Pakistan. The state has been making efforts to tackle the terrorism problem at home, with some levels of success achieved – most recently seen in the peaceful Ashura days observed across the country. However, we have still a long way to travel before we can claim final victory. There can be some sense of achievement in the fact that the bomber was stopped outside the shrine by police guards on duty, somewhat limiting the death toll. In 2005, a bombing at the same shrine had killed 35 people. Perhaps we have been able to improve security arrangements. But we have not reached the core of the problem which is that widening extremist violence in our country. Beyond the deployment of police personnel, one of whom lost his life on Thursday, it is crucial we eradicate extremist forces and change the increasingly orthodox mindset that has affected tens of thousands of people, including the most educated tiers of society. This battle will continue until we are able to alter patterns of thinking and thereby make it more difficult for groups such as IS to gain a hold within our country. They have used existing extremist groups to help open up paths for them, and our failures in harnessing these groups over the past three decades have led us to the dangerous place where we stand today. It may be recalled here that after some improvement in the situation last year, the Balochistan province is in grip of violence once again.. Only recently there was the attack on the procession of JUI leader Maulana Ghafoor Haideri. After the recent killing of Chinese couple recently, this is another attack by suicide bomber. Earlier this year, on February 13, a blast took place near the Saryab Bridge in Quetta killing two personnel of the bomb disposal squad and leaving 11 injured. In February, at least three personnel, including a Pakistan Army captain, were killed as a roadside bomb exploded near a security vehicle patrolling in Balochistan’s Awaran district. Later in March, an explosion targeting a security forces convoy occurred on Saryab Road. Four people were injured including three Frontier Corps personnel and a passer-by. In August, last year, a suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Civil Hospital, following the death of the president of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association, killing at least 70 people and leaving many wounded. It is also not hidden from any one that India is an opponent of the CPEC and has gone to the extent of allocating big funds to sabotage the joint project of China and Pakistan. So one factor that violence is increasing in Baochistan is due to the Indian hand. There have also been attacks on Chinese workers in Balochistan as also high on Pakistan leaders and police personnel in the recent past which should have opened the eyes of the security personnel and other government agencies in Quetta to take special care of the city. It is a big failure of the authorities that violence is increasing in the province. Most probably it is the work of the Indian sponsored terrorists operating in the province. The security agencies should take it up as a challenge to uncover the militants. Meanwhile, experts say that the nexus of Daesh and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has further deepened in the province after the Islamic State took responsibility for the Mastung attack which targeted Senate Deputy Chairperson Abdul Ghafoor Haidri’s convey on May 12. Before this attack, Daesh had claimed responsibility of brutal attack against lawyers in Quetta and a shrine in the remote district of Khuzdar. The LeJ had also established nexus with the Jaesh-e-Islam and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in the area. There is an urgent need to discover why Balochistan has drifted back to the violence after a slight improvement in the preceding year. In October last year, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry commission under Justice Qazi Faiz Esa to probe into the attack in which majority of those killed were lawyers. The ensuing report of the one-man commission criticised the federal and provincial government for its “monumental failure to combat terrorism”.

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