The facts are hauntingly familiar. Once again, the Hazara community in Quetta has been targeted. Once again, the heirs have held off burying their dead until the army intervenes. However, this time there is no quick-fix solution, as there was last time; last month, when there were blasts on Alamdar Road, which triggered the dismissal of the Raisani government, for Governor’s Rule has already been imposed. This time around too, the entire country backs the Shia community in their protest, with a sit-in outside Lahore’s Governor’s House specifically demanding an army operation in Quetta. Considering the enormous resources spent on our military and intelligence agencies, and considering that a large swathe of Baluchistan is already under control of the FC, the fact that such chilling targeting of a particular community continues with impunity, is a damning failure of our investment in security. Is it too much for the Hazaras to ask? Simply to want to be allowed to remain alive, and to go about their lawful occasions without hindrance? Is one now not justified in asking why this is not possible?
The nation mourns with the Hazaras, puzzled and shocked and feeling utterly hopeless in the face of such catastrophe after catastrophe. Overcoming not just any provincial but also any sectarian divide, there is unadultered sympathy for the Hazara community. However, that would be cold comfort for the heirs of the victims. Also, this also raises pertinent queries about the competence of the government, which enjoys office in both centre and province. This problem becomes extreme when it is noted that the bloodshed in Karachi, which has been going on for so long, continues, with seven more killed on Sunday. With Sindh and Balochistan having PPP governments, slogans about restoring democracy or of democracy in danger, ring increasingly hollow. The Hazaras in Quetta calling for the government to order military intervention must be conceded that the ultimate guarantor of any civilian government is the armed force it exerts. It is to be used only as a last resort. But that time may well have come. How many more must fall before we will act?
It should not be forgotten by opponents of military involvement that the Hazaras have been pushed hard, perhaps too hard for them to care. It should not be forgotten by proponents that sectarian evils are being spread not just in Balochistan, but even in the capital of Punjab, Lahore, where a respected pillar of the community, a Doctor and his young son lost their life to a hail of bullets in an attack aimed for no reason other than their religious belief was Shia. Pakistan it seems, is safe for no one, unless we all band together and decide: enough. We will not tolerate those who have no tolerance themselves. We must root this evil out from Pakistan, once and for all.