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November 1, 2016
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Quetta attack: time for reflection

Opinion

November 1, 2016

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There is a deadly suicide attack in Quetta. A long list of condemnations begin to pour in. The prime minister and other ‘VIPs’ visit Quetta and meet the injured victims, and vow to defeat the coward enemy. The injured are transported to Karachi for treatment. This is the regular routine which is repeated each time a deadly terrorism attack takes place in Quetta.

The same was the case immediately after the attack on the Police Training College in Quetta on October 24. Just three highly trained terrorists snuck into the college, where over 500 unarmed police cadets were at their mercy. They successfully managed to kill dozens of recently passed out cadets before blowing themselves up. This was the second such act on a collective community of Balochistan within just three months.

There was a major security failure on the part of the provincial government, which did not do anything to increase the security of the Police Training College which was under threat and had been attacked twice in the last decade. This attack once again exposed the incompetence of the provincial security apparatus. Sacking commandant of Police Training College and couple of other officers is not the acceptable way of getting rid of responsibility of security failure by provincial government.

No meaningful action has been taken so far against anyone responsible for the security failure in the August 8 Civil Hospital attack which wiped out an entire generation of lawyers. The government only transferred a few bureaucrats and the MS of the Civil Hospital after it was asked by the apex court to do so. Until the provincial government pins responsibility of security failure on the concerned people, it is less likely that any effective measures would be taken to prevent similar catastrophes from happening in the future.

The attack in Quetta was an attack on the state of Pakistan but it was not treated as such by the mainstream of Pakistan. News of the attack lost its place in news coverage in less than 24 hours. The tussle between the PTI and the federal government and the immature antics of both sides provided to be much more important than the brutal killing of 62 cadets. This case once again proved that Balochistan or anything related to it is not given due importance. This further supports the deprivation argument purported by the nationalist elements of Balochistan.

Last month, 18 soldiers of the Indian army were killed in Uri, Kashmir. India wasted no time in blaming Pakistan for the attack and also raised the issue at international forums and made a big deal about it. Unfortunately, this is not the case after a series of relatively much bigger attacks in Quetta which is the main city of the largest province of Pakistan. VIP visits, rhetoric and claims of defeating the enemy and non-stop condemnation statements – this is what happens in our case and is a matter of concern.

Likewise, at a time when the Police Training College was the centre of the debate in the media for at least the first few hours, it was used for petty politics by the top guns of the political arena of the country. Chairman of PTI Imran Khan, who is again on dharna mode these days, and Defense Minister Khawaja Asif both used this sad event to settle scores against each other. Both politicians  used the event to declare each other Indian agents and added conspiracy to the issue rather than giving it serious consideration. This sort of attitude does serious disservice to the country – but only if someone realises it.

The Quetta attack has yet again provided an opportunity for the federal and Balochistan governments and the mainstream society of Pakistan. Everyone needs to reflect on the blunders they keep repeating each and every time terrorists strike in the country. Due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the rapidly changing geo-political situation of the region, it is less likely that acts such as the one on the Police Training College will stop completely. Therefore, it is high time we started treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves. This requires deploying all possible resources to dismantle terrorist networks. Providing security to each and every soft target is simply not possible.

Incidents such as the Quetta police centre attack should be given the required attention so that the people of Balochistan really feel like they are equal citizens of Pakistan.

 

The writer is a freelance columnist.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @iAdnanAamir

 

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