At least 13 people including women and children were killed on Thursday evening in a bomb attack on a bus targeting the Hazara Shia community of Balochistan. The bus was ferrying Shias from Iran when the explosion took place near the Hazaraganji by-pass on the outskirts of Quetta.
One of those killed was a policeman who was part of the police escort provided to Hazara Shias travelling on this route following a spate of attacks on the community over the past year.
The banned Laskhar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman of the outfit was quoted by a section of the local media as stating that the attack was to avenge operations against a madrassah and a tableeghi centre.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday said the attack demonstrates the persistence of terrorists to target citizens on account of their religious beliefs as “the state has either been unwilling or increasingly unable to prevent the blatant killings”.
With 60 Shias killed in systematic and targeted attacks in Balochistan alone this year, the HRCP statement noted that “with each attack, allegations of the attackers enjoying sympathy and support among the security forces gain more credence, at least in the views of the targeted community”. Under the circumstances, it is understandable that the Shias of the province feel like sitting ducks and are opting to leave Balochistan, often at great risk to their lives. At least 70 young men from the community had drowned in one such attempt in Indonesian waters in 2011.
Urging the government to conduct a thorough enquiry into this systematic targeting of the Shia community which is “now little short of naked persecution”, the Commission warned that “unless unambiguous will of the state to bring the killers to justice is demonstrated Pakistan will become an even more unlivable place than it already is”.
On social networking websites, many wondered why the Supreme Court was not taking suo motu notice of the regular attacks on Shias across the country in general and Hazara Shias in particular.