The prime minister finally visited Quetta just hours after the Hazaras buried the eleven coalminers brutally killed in Machh and ended their protests. Despite the controversy and politicization prior to the visit, it must be welcomed that issue has been resolved amicably.
During the brief visit, the prime minister was briefed on the law and order situation in the province. He met the families of slain miners and assured them that their genuine concerns will be addressed and the state will ensure their well-being. The Hazara families said they trusted the prime minister to solve their problems and thus wanted him to visit them. The government has accepted many of their demands and has agreed to bring the perpetrators of the massacre to justice.
Wouldn’t it have been a whole lot better if the prime minister hadn’t courted so much controversy and gone to Quetta earlier to condole with families of the Hazara victims? While he did, sort of, make up for his unacceptable remarks by saying that those were directed towards opposition parties, there is still the feeling that he should not have distanced himself from the oppressed quite like he did. Still, all is well that ends well and this episode seems to have culminated as nicely as was possible under the extraordinary circumstances.
All important offices of the state, all the way up to the prime minister, will now have to keep a very close eye on the security of the Hazara community, which is only appropriate considering that they have lost thousands of innocent people to senseless sectarian attacks over almost three decades and so far not one attacker has ever been apprehended, much less punished.
Quetta is a very small main city by Pakistan’s standards, after all, and has for the longest time had the presence of all types of security and intelligence agencies, and the fact that such mindless genocide can still be perpetrated over there baffles the imagination. It was to express such concerns that suffering, sobbing Hazara people wanted the prime minister himself to come to them and tell them what was going to be done about their fate. That the PM equated that with blackmail, for some very odd reason, is very sad and reflects very poorly on the occupant of the highest office in the land.
Some PTI leaders denounced Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for ‘doing politics’ on the community’s pain by going to condole with them in person. Those with an iota of political sense, not to mention empathy, know that was absolutely the need of the hour. Be that as it may, Mr Khan now has a chance to make good on his words. Armed escorts and better-secured enclaves only address the symptoms of militancy; they are not the cure.
Going by the premier’s own words, behind these attacks is a group of only about 40 individuals, former Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives now allied with the militant Islamic State group. The government must order the security forces to hunt down these violent extremists, who can apparently still strike at will in Balochistan, and bring them to trial. As long as they are free, they pose a threat to minorities across the country.
It is imperative that the government solves the problems bring faced by the neglected people of Balochistan including the Hazaras. The government should not give mere assurances but take practical steps to solve their problems to maintain peace in the province.