November 17, 2017
Violence, and the tragedy it brings, continues to haunt Balochistan. This march of death has not really stopped at any point, perhaps slowing down now and then but then gaining pace once more. Wednesday was a particularly ugly day with death decimating lives in two separate incidents. In a terrorist attack that mimicked others which have come before, SP Mohammed Ilyas was gunned down by unidentified motorcyclists who approached his vehicle near his home in the Nawan Killi locality in Quetta. Accentuating the tragedy was the death of his wife, son and six-year-old grandson with him. An even younger granddaughter was injured alongside a passer-by. The SP was the second senior police officer to be so brutally killed this month in a city where assailants have repeatedly targeted security personnel. There have been no claims of responsibility in a province where multiple groups with diverse ideological beliefs and motivations operate. It has not been possible to stop them.
Another dimension to the violence these forces unleash on essentially helpless victims was evidenced at the Buleda area of Turbat in Balochistan’s Kech District, where the bodies of 15 people who had been shot dead were recovered near the border with Iran. The men, all from various parts of Punjab, had been kidnapped a few days ago. All had been attempting to cross the border into Iran and then onto Europe as illegal migrants. Their journey ended in a bloodbath within their own country. The news of their fate has been conveyed to their families in the towns, villages and hamlets from which they had set out. More darkness has been added to their often desperate lives.
That both these attacks came on the same day that the National Security Committee reviewed the security situation in Balochistan and spoke of the progress being made shows how much work is still to be done. The committee decided to devote more development resources to the province but clearly the problem cannot be solved with money alone. Militant groups such as the Islamic State have been able to establish themselves in Balochistan and they will need to be rooted out. Action needs to be taken too against separatist groups while also addressing the alienation felt by many Baloch people which leads to them to sympathise with the separatist cause, if not the violent tactics used by such groups. In response to the attacks, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal spoke of how India is using Afghanistan as a base to foment terrorism in Balochistan. According to him, such attacks are meant to destabilise CPEC. While it is true that India is known to have meddled in the province – the capture of Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav was proof enough of that – we cannot use that as an excuse to do nothing. It is important to keep drawing international attention to India’s gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty but without using it as an excuse for inaction at home. The only way to bring peace in Balochistan is through smart law enforcement and the understanding that we need the Baloch people to buy in to this fight