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Monday, April 16, 2012

SMS from Quetta


Mansoor Ali Khan on 16, Apr 2012




“Important, I can provide you information about latest attack on Brewery Road, Quetta but I demand full secrecy.” This is the message I received on my cell phone today when I reached office. I called up the number. It was a student from a college in Quetta. His voice shaking with fear. My first question was where did he get my number from? He replied, I got it from your face book account. He said he had seen the people carrying weapons from his hostel which is situated on Brewery Road. The student replied, he was not willing to reveal his identity or talk on-air because he feared for his life. I told him I cant help him until I don’t confirm his identity but he was insistent on hiding his identity. I didn’t force him anymore cause I knew his life was much precious than anything in this world. I simply let him go but told him to contact me again if he wants to share anything else.

This is only one example of thousands of citizens of Quetta who are living in fear for the last 15 days now. Every day we recieve news of unknown gunmen coming on motorbikes and shedding bullets on innocent people who are either sitting at their shops or are waiting for the bus at the bus-stop. Immigration consultants have thriving business in this city where every week hundreds of families are applying for immigrations to Canada, Australia or America. I personally know at least five such families who have sold every thing they ever owned, who have left their ancestors’ graves in this city due to the fear of their lives. I had a chance to talk to one such family in Canada. I asked them do they miss Quetta and they replied the only thing they miss about this city is that they would never be able to see the graves of their ancestors anymore. My next question was if they would ever return to the city, their answer was quick “No” and a long silence.

What could one say about a province whose governor has been compelled to say that if things don’t work out soon enough, civil war might erupt in this region. Our channel talked to the Secretary Interior of Baluchistan, Naseeb Ullah Bazai, and asked him why the law-enforcing agencies seemed to be failing. He replied they are trying their best to control the situation but his reply sounded more like a warrior who is fighting a war without arms. He gave us figures of arrests, figures of under-trial detainees but nowhere did he mention a concrete plan to handle this situation. The only thing he had to announce was that they are holding another ‘meeting’ to assess the situation.

In any other country if such a situation had come-up the Prime Minister would have been forced to move to the city to handle the situation but our Prime Minister seems too busy handling the contempt of court case against him, the new drug scandal against his son and yes, last but not the least increasing the number of ministers in the cabinet.

The Hazara community’s prominent representative in the National Assembly, Syed Nasir Ali, belongs to the ruling People’s party and is on a token strike for quite some time now but just like the people of Quetta, his token strike is apparently doing no good. I called the Secretary General of the Hazara Democratic Party, Ahmed Kuzak and told him about the sms I had received but I was shocked to see that he wasn’t surprised. He said we already know that there are elements in the city that are at play here, but the government machinery seems to have failed miserably. He told me that since March 26, 27 people, from the Hazara community have been shot dead in target killings. The attackers have been so confident about their approach that they are targeting people on two different spots in an interval of 5 minutes and no one from the police or the law-enforcing agencies seemed to get a clue about what is happening. Kuzak further stated that after the Mastung incident when 22 pilgrims who were on their way to Iran were brutally killed; there was a grave silence in the target killing incidents but since March 26 there has been a new wave seizing the city. The secretary general further mentioned that Quetta has become such sensitive area for policing that 27 posts of SPs and DSPs are lying vacant in the province since last year but no police officer is willing to take up the charge.

The political leadership, the police and even the clerics seemed to have failed in ensuring peace in this region. If things don’t work out soon enough, no laptops, Tsunamis, or Pakistan Khappay slogans will be able to the stop this wave of anger and sorrow and all that will be left for us do is to appoint another Hamood-ur-Rehman commission.

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