Bringing peace to Quetta

Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has given a well defined and relatively simple target to the intelligence agencies: catch the perpetrators of the terrorism that has afflicted the city. Though the terror antedates his taking office as Prime Minister, and though he is not the first Prime Minister to go to Quetta because of this, this is the first example of a clearly articulated federal commitment. Mian Nawaz talked to the press after receiving a briefing on the province’s law and order situation on Tuesday. It is significant that, among the officials accompanying him from Islamabad were the DGs of the ISI and the Intelligence Bureau. He said that he had told them to regard the recent Hazara Town incident as a test case, and to apprehend the culprits. At one level, it might seem contrary to the promotion of good order to detail an agency which is itself accused of being behind the forced disappearances that have been such a problem in the province. However, that does not mean that it is not the relatively best equipped agency to deal with the crisis, and should not take away from its ability to do what is needed most, and capture the criminals and bring them to trial. Also, it is a military organisation, and this would help meet the old demand of the victim community that the Army be called in.It should not be forgotten that the Hazara community has been through a hellish ordeal. Before the present attack, before previous attacks on it in Quetta, its pilgrims have been targeted. This has been done for sectarian reasons, as Hazaras are part of the Shia community. However, while the attacks on the Hazara locality of Quetta took place this winter, no perpetrator has even been arrested, let alone brought to trial. Unless this impunity is ended, the Hazara community cannot be given the safety that is the right of all citizens. Mian Nawaz is equally responsible for all provinces, but in Balochistan, his party is not just part of the government, but the provincial Chief Minister, Dr Abdul Malik, though from another party, was handpicked by him. His call to both agencies to cooperate with the provincial government should be met with a will to achieve the set goal.Balochistan is the country’s largest province, and also its most under-developed. Its law and order thus looms all the larger, and no government, federal or provincial, can tolerate a peaceable community going around its capital in fear of its life. Providing security is a basic function of the state, and this inability to provide it presents as big a challenge as any foreign invasion. It is in this sprit that Mian Nawaz seems to take it, carrying along the provincial government, and that might indeed be the only way out.

(Courtesy: Nation)