BARELY a month since the horrific and devastating bomb attack targeting the Shia Hazara community in Quetta, the militants have visited yet more damage and destruction on the besieged community. The gargantuan explosion on Saturday that killed dozens and injured many more is a bloody exclamation mark on the state’s continuing failure to protect a vulnerable people, and this time there is no incompetent political government to pin the blame on. While governor’s rule was never going to be able to immediately stop all violence against the Hazaras, the sheer scale of Saturday’s destruction indicates that even the biggest of attacks continue to be planned and executed with the state still unable to disrupt them. And therein lies a central problem with the very imposition of governor’s rule: it wasn’t put in place as a result of a well-thought-out and properly articulated counterterrorism strategy but because of the emotional and powerful protest by the Hazara community that refused to bury its dead after the Jan 10 attack in Quetta.

With no real strategy in hand at the outset, governor’s rule has in effect been making it up as it goes along. Counterterrorism is not about telling the security, intelligence and governing apparatus that it is free to do its job and will be supported in whatever steps it decides to take — it is, instead, about giving proper guidance and direction to the instruments of counterterrorism policy. There exists in Quetta in the recent past a very relevant example of just what a proper counterterrorism approach looks like: the state’s response to the targeted killing of Punjabi ‘settlers’ by Baloch insurgents that caused an exodus of a large number of Punjabis from the city. Without endorsing the army-led security establishment’s tactics — allegations of ‘kill and dump’ and ‘killing the killers’ policies abound — the approach was to systematically map a threat and then work on eliminating it.

Few will admit it, but the threat to the Hazaras has been treated differently for at least a couple of reasons: one, the community doesn’t have much political, economic or social clout; and two, they aren’t very well regarded by ethnic Baloch, either not just a callous state. Unhappily, until that changes, until the state regards the protection of all lives as an equal priority, the Hazaras will continue to suffer.

Updated Feb 17, 2013 08:07pm

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Comments (12) (Closed)

Aqil Siddiqi
Feb 19, 2013 03:59am
Where have you been living? in Tora Bora????? AS they can kill you, you can kill them too.Why we have inteligence agencies and army for. It's their job to find them and devise a strategy against them.
Shoukat Ali
Feb 18, 2013 09:09pm
What kind of common sense, and society is this? Unfortunately for majority of us, Pakistanis, the American drone attacks that mainly kill terrorists and their accomplice, and rarely innocent people is unacceptable, injustice, violation of international boundary and sovereignty, and blah blah. Despite, that it is an agreement between GHQ and US Government. But the genocide of an Ethnic group, Hazara, and target killings of a particular Sect, Shia, for more than a decade, which are much higher in magnitude, destruction, and casualty is not a serious crime and of importance.
Feb 18, 2013 02:49pm
Pakistan is coming apart due to religious hatred. The same hatred that created Pakistan. The chickens are coming home to roost.
Feb 18, 2013 03:42pm
In-fact you realize truth, only mentioning events and killing is for mourning and nothing more. Article is biased and vague not addressed root causes of such killing and hatred. Now Karachi is in the grip of terror due sit-in, sporadic firing and keep city standstill in the name of Quetta killing. Large scale Sunni killing in Karachi is overlooked. Need Karachi should be given under army control too. Citizens and passersby are being searched by Sit-in groups and threatening on protest of search. Law enforcing agencies should take action against this disturbance.
Nandakumar K
Feb 18, 2013 04:26pm
Whenever an ethnic group becomes a victim of ethnic violence, it should not be interpreted Hazara problem or Shia problem etc. It should be considered as a national problem and all right-thinking persons should unitedly fight this menace. This is equally applicable in any country be it India. Shri Lanka or Bangla Desh. Any person can be bracketed with a minority identity and persecuted,
Umesh Gupta
Feb 18, 2013 05:36am
Sir, What are you trying to convey. Does it mean that killing shall continue.
Agha Ata (USA)
Feb 18, 2013 01:56pm
This article makes no sense. Sorry.
Feb 18, 2013 11:52am
Unfortunately there isn?t any answer. There isn?t going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer. It is time for the entire nation to rise up on one platform....
Iftikhar Husain
Feb 18, 2013 12:14pm
It is a great shame that state cannot provide security to its citizen when the government has all the resources available on its disposal. This problem needs urgent attention.
S. Ali
Feb 18, 2013 04:02pm
Religion is the main trouble maker in the vulnerable Pakistani Society. It needs to isolated from the community as a tool of political exploitation. It had better be treated as an individual entity or asset rather than communal one. If we want to save Pakistan, it is mandatory to invidualise religion otherwise we are a gone case.
Feb 18, 2013 10:43am
Tell us, please, what a decent counter-terrorism strategy and tactic should be .
sattar rind
Feb 19, 2013 06:42am
when and how will these killing be stopped?