The Bus Massacre

By Malik Siraj Akbar

At least sixteen people were killed in two different violent incidents in Balochistan at a time when rest of the country was celebrating the Independence Day. Both the incidents had two things in common: All killed were Punjabis and the onus for the shoot-outs was accepted by the defunct Baloch Liberation Army.

In the first case of selective target killings, a passenger bus coming from Lahore to Quetta was stopped by armed men in Bolan after compelling the driver to halt the bus. Passengers possessing the national identity cards showing the citizenship of the Punjab were brought down from the bus and taken to the mountains where they were killed indiscriminately.

In another similar incident on the very same day, six Punjabi laborers working Balochistan were attacked by armed men who entered inside their rented houses and sprayed bullets.

The BLA, while accepting responsibility for these killings, has said it avenged the killing of Baloch missing persons whose dead bodies have started reaching their homes after short intervals.

Balochistan chief minister Raisani and some provincial ministers have condemned the killings while the Punjab Government has officially and vociferously protested with Quetta over the killings.

On the very same day when the killing of the Punjabis took place, newspapers reported the recovery of the dead bodies of two more political activists from Khuzdar District. As luck would have it, there was no official statement from the Chief Minister of Balochistan to equally condemn the killing of the Baloch missing persons. No provincial minister bothered to utter a single word over the killing of BRP and BNP activists.

The human cost of the Balochistan conflict is rapidly increasing. Innocent people are losing their lives on both sides of the conflict. Unfortunately, too little is being done to improve the situation in the province. Politics is the art of finding solutions which the current government has totally failed to do until now in Balochistan. Something needs to be done to fix the trouble that exists in Balochistan.

(This write-up originally appeared in The Baloch Hal, Balochistan’s first online English newspaper)

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