Demand for Army Takeover Ignored Causes of Killings

Feb 2013

Thousands sat in protest against the January 10 blast that murdered 100 Hazaras this weekend. However, the demand for army takeover ignored the institution’s incompetence, or unwillingness, to take on the killers.

Hazaras had yet to recover from the pains of the twin blasts on Alamdar Road on January 10, when another bomb destroyed the lives of hundreds of innocent people, leaving scores more behind.

Like the last blast, this one prompted the relatives of those who died to sit in protest against government apathy. Over the last seven years, 1200 Hazaras have died and the government and killers who have taken public responsibility for the attacks–Lashkar-e-Jhangvi–are still at large.

The country-wide sit-in was called by Majlis-e-Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen (MWM) and the Shia Ulma Council (SUC) with unanimous support from local Shia organizations. At a time of mourning and loss, religion can be a powerful organizer–especially when the Hazaras Shia faith is precisely the reason they are killed. But, the Shia groups who played a key role in organizing the protestors irresponsibly played with emotions, articulating a demand–namely the take-over of Quetta by the army–that does not reflect the real wishes of the Hazara people, nor the structural causes of the killings. Later, the groups called off the sit-in before their demands for army take-over were met–making protestors feel they were cheated and given empty promises.

The call for army intervention, and the protestors apparent support for the demand, undoubtedly comes from a place of desperation, but it fundamentally ignores the deeper and more structural reasons for the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s genocidal killings.

1200 people dead in seven years indicates that the government and state security apparatus is either incapable or unwilling to cope with the terror inflicted on our community. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has publicly said that they are behind the killings, which is why declarations that there is talk of an “intelligence failure” seem disingenuous at best, and blatant lies at worst. The Pakistani intelligence agencies know who to target and where to find them. That is why the continued attacks by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi indicates that there is a higher likelihood that the state is guilty of unwillingness rather than incompetence.

Dig deeper, and much indicates that the security agencies have a strategic reason for closing their eyes to the carnage in Quetta. One, allowing Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to kill with impunity shifts attention away from the security agencies’ atrocities against Baloch nationalists. What looks like sectarian violence (though it is one-sided) is fostered to camouflage the state’s relentless aggression against the province’s ethnic Baloch population. Two, in the run-up to 2014, it makes sense for security agencies to maintain strategic depth in a group like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, because they fall into the category of “good Taliban”–extremists who hold off from attacking the state, though it continues to kill its citizens. The security agencies might not directly condone the killings of Shias, but they have taken a strategic decision to look the other way. Read on >>

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