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Quetta Terror Attack Shows Pakistan's Lack of Will to Fight Terrorism; By Jai Kumar Verma

C3S Paper No. 0121/2016

Courtesy: The India Saga

A country which nurtured and abetted terrorism as state policy and launched low intensity war against its neighbour has suffered one more blast at Quetta on August 8 in which more than 90 innocent people lost lives and large number were injured.

The irony is that more than one terrorist organization claimed responsibility of this heinous offence as if it was not a sin but an act of valour and needs appreciation.

Jamaat-ur- Ahrar, a breakaway faction of Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as well as the most powerful terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS) took the responsibility of the bomb blast which happened in a hospital where lawyers assembled to show solidarity to Bilal Anwar Kasi, the former President of Balochistan Bar Association, who was also shot dead by miscreants. A majority of those killed in the blast were lawyers. Besides lawyers, two journalists also lost lives in the suicide attack.

The spokesperson of Jamaat-ur- Ahrar threatened that it would continue with such terrorist attacks unless Islamic laws in letter and spirit are not promulgated in the country.

The mineral rich Balochistan which is the largest but poorest province in Pakistan borders Iran as well as Afghanistan. The residents of Balochistan are fighting for an independent country as they proclaim that Punjabi dominated Pakistan is exploiting the minerals of the province without giving reasonable royalty to the state and there is no development in the state.

Military controlled Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is assisting several terrorist outfits in the province with ulterior motive of weakening the secessionist movement of Baloch people. The ISI sponsored terrorist outfits as well as Sunni extremist groups are constantly attacking Shias especially Hazara Shias. ISI abets Shia Sunni divide in the state with ulterior motive of weakening the independence movement of the province. Sunni outfits like Lashkar-e- Jhangvi or Sipah-e- Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) are assisted by ISI. SSP, which at present are operating with the name of Milat-e- Islamia Pakistan, is a Sunni hard-line outfit and carried out several terrorist acts against Shias.

There is a blackout in Pakistani media about news pertaining to Balochistan. The atrocities committed by security forces in the state are neither published in Pakistani media nor foreign correspondents, are allowed to cover Balochistan.

The Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri blamed India’s R&AW for all terrorist acts in Balochistan including the dastardly act of August 8. Zehri stated that he posses irrefutable evidences of Indian intelligence involvement in the terrorist acts in Balochistan and he supplies it regularly to federal government. Nonetheless he blamed India for the terrorist act even before security forces initiated the investigation which indicates that Pakistani authorities blame India to safeguard their  failures and incompetence.

Several terrorist groups are operating in the state and they have stepped up terror activities enhanced the terrorism, and in recent attacks the lawyers were the main targets. Lawyer Jahanzeb Alvi was killed on August 3, and Bilal Kasi another lawyer who condemned the killing was also shot dead, Barrister Amanullah Achakzai was also murdered in June.

In Balochistan besides strong secessionist movement, terrorist organisations sponsored by ISI, Al Qaeda and Shia and Sunni groups are also active and responsible for targeted killing. Besides these groups Afghan Taliban are also active as in May 2016 Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone attack in the state on Iran Pakistan border.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided a meeting which was attended by General Raheel Sharif Chief of Army Staff of Pakistani Army, Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan and several other important security personnel. The meeting decided to take stringent actions against the terrorist outfits. It was also mentioned that terrorists want to sabotage the USD 46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is important for the economic development of the country.

China is reluctant to invest such a huge amount on CPEC unless there is peace in Balochistan province hence General Raheel Sharif categorically stated that all resources must be utilized to restore peace in the province as CPEC is important for the development of Pakistan. General Sharif ordered a nationwide operation to eliminate terrorism from the country.

Rulers of Pakistan must realize that phony allegations against India for terrorist acts in Balochistan or declaring that R&AW is instigating secessionist movement may render solace for time being but the administration has to adopt a multifaceted long term measures so that the genuine grievances of Baloch people are redressed.

Arresting, torturing and alleging that an Indian national Kulbhushan Jadav was an Indian spy and was involved in terrorist activities would also be of no help.

Baloch people say the CPEC  will neither generate employment nor business for Balochistan. They have demanded that Pakistani government should implement CPEC in such a way that people of Balochistan are also benefitted by this Chinese project. Balochistan lacks development and there are no industries as well. People are also fed up with incompetent and corrupt administration. Lack of infrastructure and poor communication system, very less employment opportunities; no education; less electricity and abject poverty are taking the population to terrorism.

Administration must launch developmental projects especially poverty alleviation programme in the state. ISI which has created Shia-Sunni divide with ulterior motives must abandon this perilous game and sectarian harmony should be created. There are constant attacks on Shias and the perpetrators of these attacks are not punished. Law of the land must deal them stringently.

The terrorist infrastructure created by rogue intelligence agency ISI or by terrorist outfits must be destroyed completely. The IS which is loosing ground in Syria and Iraq is in search of new areas and Pakistan which is suffering from economic deprivation and Islamic fervor is an ideal place for IS to spread its tentacles. Hence the rulers must adopt long term measures so that IS is not able to establish itself in Pakistan.

(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based security analyst. The views are personal.)

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