Pakistan People Party’s Nawab Aslam Raisani came to power at such a time when all the major nationalist political parities had boycotted the elections and the province was struck by separatist insurgencies which had gained new momentum after Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti's assassination in 2006. ??
This was coupled by the military establishment’s change in its operational strategies towards Balochistan — from overt operations to more covert ones. As more and more Baloch nationalist activists began to disappear, more and more religious seminaries surfaced across Balochistan, aimed at converting the otherwise secular Baloch society into a religiously extremist one.
At the same time a huge number of Taliban fighters and hardliners had also taken refuge in Balochistan, particularly on the outskirts of Quetta, after their emirate was overthrown by the US-led NATO forces in assistance with the Northern Alliance. These Taliban fighters had now allied with sectarian outfits such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who are thought to have ties with Pakistan's military establishment. The Taliban-LeJ alliance, who are allegedly given a free hand to operate in Balochistan, is evident from one of their threat letters thrown into Hazara localities in Quetta last year: “Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shia-Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people”.
Meanwhile, the mainstream secular political parties of Balochistan such as Balochistan National Party (BNP) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (Pk-MAP) had boycotted the 2008 general elections which created a huge political vacuum in the province. This paved the way for some political opportunists to win the elections and form the provincial government with almost no opposition. Instead of showing commitment to resolving the core issues of the province, they were more interested in holding ministries and finding ways of embezzlement to further enrich themselves as they knew it was their first and last chance.
The already troubled province descended further into chaos as the number of mutilated dead bodies of Baloch activists increased, demand of a separate Pakhtun province accelerated and attacks on Hazaras quadrupled. Extensive deployment of non-local Pakhtun-dominated Frontier Corps in various parts of Balochistan created a sense of insecurity among the Baloch population which, some activists believe, was aimed at creating a Baloch-Pakhtun divide.
The FC has been generally blamed for being involved in extra-judicial killings of Baloch political activists and running a parallel government in the province. On the contrary, the Pakhtuns felt that they are being marginalized through district quotas in education and services and not given enough share in power as both Governorship and Chief ministership were held by the Balochs. The Baloch say that the power actually belongs to the Frontier Corps which runs a parralel government in the province. Mahmood Khan Achakzai of Pk-MAP increased his demand of division of Balochistan (and restoration of British Balochistan) after the US Congressional hearing on Balochistan in 2012. Even discussions over Quetta’s city status and competition over its control reverberated in the drawing rooms.
On the other hand, Hazaras feel squeezed from all around for having been attacked by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Taliban while left out by both the provincial government and the Frontier Corps in addition to facing discriminations in educational institutions, government offices and civil services.
The ethno-sectarian biases towards Hazaras have been documented by a number of rights groups. A report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan released in August 30th, 2012 reads: “Hazaras have been already uprooted from Machh, Loralai and Zhob. It seems a campaign has been launched to terrorize the Hazara community so that they leave Quetta by selling their businesses and property at throwaway prices. Pamphlets have been left at their homes telling them to sell their houses and leave.”
The report further reads “administration seems to bear ethnic and sectarian biases against the Hazara-Shia community. Since the new government assumed the charge, not a single challan (charge sheet) had been presented in courts against the accused. The accused are arrested in the morning and released in the afternoon. No government or public official had ever condemned the targeted killing of members of the Hazara community nor came to condole the murders or offer any compensation to the victims' families.”
There were also reports of provincial ministers being involved in targeted-attacks, kidnapping for ransom and land grabbing. Despite the fact that Hazaras had voted for PPP candidates in the previous elections, the party's leaders sometimes even blamed the Hazaras themselves for the killings, instead of protecting them.