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January 12, 2020

Quetta attack


January 12, 2020

In yet another suicide attack in a Quetta mosque on January 10, at least 15 people have been killed and nearly two dozen have been injured. The primary target of the suicide hit appears to be DSP Amanullah whose young son, Najeebullah, was also the target of a firing attack and lost his life just a month ago. That the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack is cause for concern. We have the usual sequence of events. The blast took place, the injured and dead were rushed to hospital, security forces swarmed the area, statements of condemnation came in from the prime minister and other senior officials and now it is likely a silence will descend over the whole matter until the next act of terrorism tears Balochistan apart. This was the second such blast in the first ten days of the year. In an earlier attack just three days ago, two persons were killed and eight were injured. It that attack a vehicle of the security forces was the target. In 2019, two mosques were the targets of similar attacks.

January 10 has become an inauspicious date in the history of Quetta, as in 2013 two major blasts had taken the lives of over a 100 people on the same date. In those two blasts most of the victims belonged to the Hazara community. During the past decades the security forces have lost many of their best men in the fight against sectarianism and terrorism. All of us condemn the killings, the impact on families and the increasing strains they cause within the country between different groups. But what we require is an effort to address the complex issues of Balochistan. As a recent report pointed out, there needs to be a dialogue with all stakeholders in Balochistan so that people in the province can be convinced that their concerns and problems are being addressed.

Quetta used to be a peaceful and tranquil city where in the winter people from other parts of Pakistan went to see snowfall in Quetta and Ziarat. But now the winters in Quetta have become deadly and lethal. This is the result of decades-long harmful policies and misplaced priorities. It is about time we set our house in order by adopting a zero-tolerance policy for extremism and terrorism. A selective approach is not going to help, as it has not helped in the past.

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