Islamabad blast brings Balochistan issue to limelight

Updated 09 Apr 2014

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A boy mourns over the death of his family member, a victim of bomb blast, outside a morgue in a local hospital in Islamabad. -AP Photo
A boy mourns over the death of his family member, a victim of bomb blast, outside a morgue in a local hospital in Islamabad. -AP Photo

For the first time, a Baloch separatist militant group has claimed responsibility for an attack inside Islamabad.

The claim on the part of the separatist militant group United Baloch Army (UBA) has once again brought the issue of turmoil in Balochistan into the limelight.

On the other hand, different Baloch militant groups have in the past claimed responsibility for bomb explosions in Lahore and Karachi.

"We carried out the Islamabad blast in retaliation to an operation in Balochistan," Mureed Baloch, the spokesman for UBA told reporters in Quetta.

In recent days the UBA has intensified attacks in Quetta and other troubled parts of Balochistan.

An uneasy calm in Balochistan ended last month on March 14, when a blast ripped through a bus and other vehicles near Science College area of Quetta.

The UBA claimed responsibility for the attack, which left 12 people dead, and said that the target was a vehicle of paramilitary troops in the area.

The group had also claimed responsibility for the attack on Jaffar Express in Sibi on Tuesday.

The blast ripped through a passenger train, which left 17 passengers dead and 50 dead.

For the most part, the UBA has been claiming responsibility for bomb explosions and rocket attacks in Quetta.

These violent incidents on the part of militants have come at a time when the nationalist-led government has been making strides towards convening a multiparty conference on Balochistan.

Chief Minister Balochistan, Dr Malik Baloch had repeatedly announced to call an All Parties Conference (APC) comprising of the political leadership of the troubled province.

The chief minister stated that by calling for an APC, the goal was to find ways and means towards an amicable solution of issues related to the province.

"The use of force has not produced results in Balochistan," Dr Malik Baloch told Dawn.com.

The chief minister said that his government was determined to find a negotiated settlement to the problems affecting Balochistan.

Similarly, President Mamnoon Hussain during his visit to Quetta underlined the need for initiating dialogue with disgruntled Baloch leaders.

"The use of force would be the last option in Balochistan," the president assured a delegation of political parties on Tuesday.

However, the Kalat incident where Frontier Corps claimed to have killed 40 militants, along with the recent blasts, have overshadowed peace efforts in province.

Political analysts fear that there may be a further rise in violence in the province.

"I fear more violence," Shehzad Zulfiqar, a Quetta based senior journalist told Dawn.com.

He said such incidents would further prolong the holding of proposed APC in Balochistan.

Zulfiqar also said that people were also questioning the silence of Dr Malik Baloch over the recent incident in Kalat.

"The CM has to be clear on his position as to whether he is powerless or in full control of things," Zulfiqar added.

Balochistan has been under the grip of violence for more than a decade.

Violent acts in this sparsely populated and impoverished province has claimed thousands of lives.