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LAHORE, Aug 17: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned Thursday’s killing of Shia Muslims after being pulled out of buses headed for Gilgit-Baltistan, as well as of three Shias in Quetta and asked the authorities to explain why the killers roamed free and how security for those being targeted because of their religious beliefs would be ensured.

The commission said in a statement: “Thursday’s attack was similar to the one carried out in Kohistan in February in more than one respect. Again buses were stopped on a main road by men in military uniform, Shia passengers were separated from the rest and executed.”

It deplored that other than the claims of responsibility for the killings made by Taliban or other bands of extremist militants, the authorities appeared to be clueless about who the attackers were or how to stop them.

Killing of three men belonging to Quetta’s long suffering Hazara Shia community on Thursday further underlined the hazards that Shia Muslims face in Pakistan.

The HRCP said killings because of people’s religious beliefs was unfortunately no longer an anomaly in Pakistan. Those keen on creating new minorities in Pakistan had made sure of that, it added.

However, the HRCP said, it had no hesitation in stating that the terrorists managed to strike on Thursday only because those behind earlier target killings in Kohistan and Quetta had not been tracked down.

“The killings are doubtless the work of those who want to destroy Pakistan, but a failure to nab and punish the killers is also contributing to the same end. The attack on Kamra airbase the same day (Thursday) provided evidence, if further evidence was needed, that Taliban were nobody’s friends and those who had created this monster had taken Pakistan down the road to annihilation.

The authorities owe an explanation to the people for their inability to crack down on sectarian killers and for the most flagrant failure in protecting the lives of citizens. The HRCP would very much like to know what words of solace and reassurance the government can offer to the families of the victims and members of a community that is increasingly certain that terrorists get support from within the security agencies. To them that could be the only explanation why the killers could not be apprehended and disappear into thin air even in areas with only one road in and one out.

They must tell the people what steps the government has taken to end impunity for the killers and ensure security for Shia Muslims, including those in Quetta and the citizens traveling to and from Gilgit-Baltistan.”