Posts Tagged ‘Quetta’

Khan supporters celebrate as Pakistan faces electoral chaos

July 26, 2018

Pakistan woke to electoral chaos on Thursday with the outgoing ruling party denouncing “blatant rigging” in the pivotal general election and rejecting unofficial, partial results suggesting victory for former cricket champion Imran Khan.

Results were still being tallied Thursday morning, hours after Khan’s supporters took to the streets to celebrate victory in an election opponents have said the powerful military rigged in his favour.

Local media said less than half the votes had been counted more than 13 hours after polls closed, an unprecedented delay that has fuelled widespread fears over the legitimacy of the exercise.

The Election Commission of Pakistan dismissed allegations of manipulation, blaming the delay on glitches in new, untested counting software.

“These elections were 100 percent fair and transparent,” said Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza early Thursday as the outcry grew.

© AFP | Pakistani media are widely projecting a victory for former cricket star Imran Khan’s PTI

Raza did not say when election authorities would be in a position to announce the results.

Late Wednesday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which had been in power since 2013, rejected the results because of “outright rigging”, and vowed it would use “all political and legal options for redressal of these glaring excesses”.

“Today what they have done has pushed Pakistan back 30 years… People will not bear it,” the party’s leader Shahbaz Sharif, brother of jailed former premier Nawaz Sharif, said in a press conference.

Other major parties also alleged fraud, including the once-dominant Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), whose chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari echoed the PML-N’s claim that party representatives were barred from monitoring the count, tweeting that the situation was “Inexcusable & outrageous”.

Local television channels were all predicting victory for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, with the partial results giving him at least 100 seats so far in the National Assembly, the lower house.

A majority of 137 seats is needed to form a government.

Neither Imran Khan nor the military, which had been accused of seeking to manipulate the vote in his favour in the months leading up to the polls, have yet commented on the situation. Both have previously denied allegations of intervention.

The controversy follows a campaign already considered by some observers to be one of the “dirtiest” in the Pakistan’s history because of the allegations against the military, and marked by the increased visibility of extremist religious parties.

– ‘Turmoil’ –

“This is complete chaos,” said political analyst Azeema Cheema, who said she was “very concerned” about what comes next.

“It depends on how the civilian disobedience is being organised. You may have spontaneous riots among political party workers. Then maybe political parties will organise sit-ins and demonstrations,” she told AFP.

Michael Kugelman, an analyst at the Wilson Center in Washington, shared the concern: “No matter how you slice it, the immediate post-election climate in Pakistan will be quite tense.”

“I don’t see any way to prevent a period of turmoil,” he told AFP.

But PTI supporters were ecstatic at the projected results.

First time voter Fahad Hussain, 21, said the party had successfully lured the country’s massive youth population.

“He motivated the youth,” Hussain told AFP in the capital Islamabad as he hit the streets to celebrate with friends.

Wednesday’s elections, conducted under high levels of security, were meant to be a rare democratic transition from one civilian government to another in the young, nuclear-armed country which has been ruled by the military for roughly half its history.

Khan, who captained Pakistan to their World Cup cricket victory in 1992, largely campaigned on ambitious promises to tackle widespread graft while building an “Islamic welfare state”.

But his bid for power was dogged by widespread accusations he is benefiting from a “silent coup” by the generals.

Khan has also increasingly catered to hardline religious groups, particularly over the inflammatory issue of blasphemy, sparking fears a win for PTI could embolden Islamist extremists.

The PML-N says it is the target of the alleged military machinations. Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power last year and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan’s most dangerous rival.

Some 800,000 military and police had been deployed to provide security on election day.

But it was still marred by violent attacks. The largest, a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, left at least 31 dead and 70 wounded near a polling station in Quetta, in southwestern Balochistan province.





Ex-Cricket Star Imran Khan Headed for Pakistan Election Victory

July 26, 2018

A victory for Khan’s party would break the country’s two-party system; campaign pledged to fight corruption

Supporters of Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, wave flags while celebrating on a street in Lahore, Pakistan.
Supporters of Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, wave flags while celebrating on a street in Lahore, Pakistan. PHOTO: ASAD ZAIDI/BLOOMBERG NEWS



Preliminary voting results in Pakistan showed the party of former cricket star Imran Khan was poised late Wednesday to come into power for the first time, upending the political landscape in the fragile democracy.

Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was performing far better than predicted by pre-election polls, which showed the party marginally in front of that of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A victory for Mr. Khan’s party would break Pakistan’s two-party system and become a new force in national politics. He has promised to clean up corruption and provide better education, health and other public services.

Mr. Khan’s party, if the early results hold, may still need to forge a coalition with one or more other parties to control the country’s Parliament before Mr. Khan can be nominated as prime minister. Forty-two percent of results have been counted. Full results are expected on Thursday, though counting was delayed by technical failures in an electronic reporting system and the tallying was now being conducted manually.

Mr. Sharif’s party and at least five other parties immediately complained of rigging, complaining alleging that their representatives were locked out of vote counting on Wednesday in many constituencies, and in some cases of intimidation by soldiers. Some 371,000 soldiers were deployed at polling stations, for security.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, politicians in several parties and human-rights groups alleged that the military helped the campaign of Mr. Khan’s party. Mr. Khan and the armed forces denied that any help was given or received.

Asad Umar, a senior member of Mr. Khan’s party, said late Wednesday that they weren’t aware of any irregularities in the voting or counting.

“I congratulate the nation,” said Mr. Umar. “Under the leadership of Imran Khan, Pakistan will become a nation that will not only make us proud, but also the entire world.”

Election officials counting votes in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, on Wednesday.
Election officials counting votes in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, on Wednesday. PHOTO: AHMAD KAMAL/XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS

The election was marred earlier Wednesday after a bomber struck outside a polling station in the city of Quetta in western Pakistan. Police said the attacker was likely a suicide bomber who struck near a police vehicle parked outside a polling station in the suburbs of Quetta. Beyond the 30 people killed, another 35 victims were in critical condition, said Kamran Kasi, a doctor at Quetta’s Civil Hospital. Most of the casualties were voters.

The election campaign had already been disrupted by a series of terrorist attacks, with the bombing on Wednesday pushing the death toll to well over 200 from all the attacks this month. Islamic State claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s blast in Quetta, the capital of the sparsely populated Baluchistan province. The militant group had also claimed the bombing of an election rally in the same province this month that killed 149 people.

“This is Pakistan’s most important election ever,” Mr. Khan said earlier Wednesday, after casting his vote in the suburbs of the capital Islamabad. “This is your opportunity to defeat those two parties which have always ruled over you.”

Less than two weeks before the election, Mr. Sharif was jailed for 10 years, after being found guilty of corruption. He is appealing the verdict, which his party claims was politically motivated and stemmed from Mr. Sharif’s clash with the military when in office. The judiciary rejects the charge and says it works independently. Mr. Sharif had already been removed from the prime ministership by a court verdict last year.

His Pakistan Muslim League-N party’s candidate for prime minister in the election is Mr. Sharif’s brother Shehbaz, who had served as chief minister of the key province of Punjab. The party planned to rely on its traditional stronghold in Punjab to return to power.

Its campaign has blamed the military establishment for robbing the country of its leader of choice, pushing voters to pick between the party and the army. The military is popular in Pakistan, surveys have shown, and it has ruled for almost half of the country’s history.

Write to Saeed Shah at and Bill Spindle at

Pakistan: No Election Winner; Election commissioner has denied allegations of tampering

July 26, 2018

It is just before 10am in Pakistan, where people who cast their votes yesterday are beginning their day in a climate of uncertainty.

  • Pakistan will have to wait until Thursday evening for official results to be announced, election officials have said, a full 24 hours after polls closed on Wednesday evening.
  • With less than half of the vote counted, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is ahead in projected partial results, leading in 100 seats, to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN)’s 68 seats.
  • Most projections have the PTI winning between 107 and 120 seats, short of the 137 seats needed to form a majority government, meaning the PTI may have to make a deal with some of the nation’s smaller parties.
  • Though results are not official, Khan supporters have been celebrating overnight, with a PTI spokesman copping criticism for calling Imran Khan “prime minister” and congratulating him on his victory while counting was still underway in more than half the constituencies.
  • There have been widespread allegations of election rigging, with party officials claiming voting irregularities, including that polling agents were not allowed into polling stations and voters were not given forms on time.
  • The election commissioner has denied any allegations of tampering, saying the elections were “100% fair and transparent”.
  • Election day was best with violence: at least 31 people were killed on Wednesday in a suicide attack outside a ballot station in Quetta and others were killed in shooting attacks around the country.
  • About 106 million registered voters were eligible to vote before polls closed at 6pm local time.
  • Women in the highly conservative northern regions of Dir, Kohistan and Waziristan voted for the first time in decades.

Read the rest:


Wall Street Journal

Preliminary voting results in Pakistan showed the party of former cricket star Imran Khan was poised late Wednesday to come into power for the first time, upending the political landscape in the fragile democracy.

Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was performing far better than predicted by pre-election polls, which showed the party marginally in front of that of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Read it all:


BBC News

Ex-cricketer Khan leads in early counting

Ex-cricket star Imran Khan has taken an early lead as votes are counted in Pakistan’s national election, but his rivals allege major vote-rigging.

Early unofficial results suggest his PTI party is in the lead, but it will need to form a coalition if it is unable to secure a simple majority.

Results are trickling in slowly, but election officials deny rigging, saying there are simply technical problems.

Voting day saw bloodshed, with many killed in a blast at a polling station.

This historic election will mark only the second time that a civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term in Pakistan.

With 42% of polling stations reporting, the Election Commission of Pakistan had Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party leading in 113 of the 272 National Assembly constituencies being contested, according to Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper.

A woman casts her vote during Pakistan"s general election
Rival parties have accused election results of being rigged. AFP Photo

But the party of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has weighed in rejecting the results, as have a host of smaller parties, all alleging vote-rigging and manipulation.

“The way the people’s mandate has blatantly been insulted, it is intolerable,” Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N and brother of the former prime minister.

Election officials say delays in releasing the results are simply down to technical failures in the electronic reporting system and the votes are now being counted manually.

But any delay to the formation of a government is likely to be a concern for Pakistanis waking up to an unclear result, considering Pakistan’s turbulent political history and a brewing economic crisis.

Suspected suicide bomb blast outside a polling station in Quetta
The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State. EPA photo

Why does this election matter?

Pakistan has a population of nearly 200 million, and is a nuclear-armed rival to India, a key developing economy and one of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nations.

The country has been ruled on and off by the military during its 71-year history, so this election is significant because it is considered the country’s second consecutive democratic transition.

The election has been seen as a contest between Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Mr Sharif, who won the last election, has been jailed for corruption after a scandal stemming from the Panama Papers leak.

Are the elections clean?

Both the run-up to the vote, and the vote count itself, have been highly controversial.

Ahead of the elections, the PML-N complained of a targeted crackdown by the security establishment, with the alleged help of the courts, in favour of the PTI party. The Pakistani military denied interfering in politics.

Independent media, meanwhile, say there have been blatant attempts to muzzle them, while the human rights commission has said there are “ample grounds” to question the legitimacy of the polls.

After the polls closed on Wednesday, several political groups alleged that vote rigging was taking place in polling stations – something denied by election officials.

Representatives from several parties said that their polling agents were expelled from polling stations during vote count and were denied certified copies of results – breaching election procedures.

Analysts have also highlighted unusual delays in the announcement of unofficial results in dozens of constituencies, especially in the crucial province of Punjab which has been a stronghold of PML-N.

What are the results of the vote?

The election commission has not released official results yet.

According to unofficial initial results, the PTI party is currently leading in about113 national assembly seats, while PML-N is ahead in about 60seats, local media report.

However, only about a third of the votes have been counted so far, Dawn newspaper says.

The party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the historically liberal PPP, is widely expected to come third.

It is now fronted by Ms Bhutto’s son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, a 29-year-old Oxford University graduate.

Key players graphic with pictures of Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

The turnout has been estimated at between 50% and 55% out of 106 million registered voters, AFP reports.

Who is Imran Khan?

  • Previously an international cricket star who led Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992
  • Educated at the University of Oxford
  • Attracted media attention due to his playboy lifestyle and three marriages
  • Launched his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996 but spent years on the political sidelines
  • Has campaigned against corruption and dynastic politics in Pakistan
  • Faces accusations – which he denies – that his party is benefitting from alleged meddling by the military

Read more: The cricket hero who could be Pakistan’s next PM

Infographic showing civilian and military periods since 1947
Presentational grey line

More on Pakistan’s election

Pakistan’s Election Day Suicide Bombing Kills 31 in Quetta, 35 wounded

July 25, 2018

A Pakistan hospital official says an explosion outside a crowded polling station in the southwestern city of Quetta has killed 31 people and wounded 35. Jaffer Kakar, a doctor, says five policemen and two children are among the dead. He fears the death toll could rise as many of the wounded are in critical condition.

Wednesday’s attack comes as Pakistanis vote in general elections for 270 members of the law-making National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Abdur Razzaq Cheema, the police chief in Quetta, Baluchistan’s provincial capital, says the explosion took place when near the city’s eastern bypass.

Baluchistan also saw the deadliest suicide bombing in the run-up to election day, with 149 people, including a provincial assembly candidate, killed at a campaign this month.


Pakistan election hit by violence as suicide bomber targets polling station

July 25, 2018

More than 28 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated near a polling station in the city of Quetta. The attack came as Pakistanis headed to vote in a national election that’s seen attacks on campaign rallies.

Members of the bomb disposal unit survey the site after a suicide blast, in Quetta, Pakistan (Reuters/N. Ahmed)

Dozens of people were killed on Wednesday in a suicide bombing near a polling station the in the city of Quetta in western Pakistan.

The militant “Islamic State” (IS) group and the Taliban threatened to target voters during Pakistan’s national election.

What we know so far:

  • At least 30 people were killed, including a child, and over 30 people were wounded when the suicide bomber detonated outside a crowded polling station.
  • Local police officials said the suicide bomber tried to target a high-ranking military officer who was part of a delegation visiting the polling station, but due to tight security, he detonated at the gate.
  • Several of the wounded are in critical condition and the death toll could rise further.
  • IS claimed responsibility for the explosion, according to a statement on the group’s Amaq news agency. The statement did not provide further details or give evidence for the claim.

EU condemns attack

The European Union’s election observation mission in Pakistan sharply condemned the suicide blast in Quetta in a statement.

“This is a deplorable and cowardly attack on a day when voters across Pakistan should be casting their ballots in a peaceful environment, without fear or hindrance,” Michael Gahler, the EU’s chief observer to Pakistan, said.

“Violence must not undermind the elections and the democratic process,” he added.

‘We’re on high alert’

Officials increased security across Pakistan for the election on Wednesday after deadly attacks in the final weeks of the campaign killed over 180 people, including three candidates. Some 370,000 troops and 450,000 police officers have been stationed at 85,000 polling stations across the country.

“We’re on very high alert,” an officer told DW’s Naomi Conrad in Islamabad.

Baluchistan, the province where Quetta is located, saw some of the worst violence during the election campaign. A suicide bomber at an election rally in the Mastung district killed over 100 people earlier this month. Another 400 people were injured in the attack, which was claimed by IS.

rs/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Pakistanis head to the polls despite interparty, militant violence

July 25, 2018
Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting
A Pakistani woman casts her vote at a polling station for the parliamentary elections in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (AP Photo)

Pakistanis headed to the polls early Wednesday to elect a new government for the next five years, officials and local media reported.

Footage aired on local station Geo TV showed voters queuing outside polling stations in the capital Islamabad as well as in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and other cities. Voting will continue until 6 p.m. local time.

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Insaf party greet to their leader Imran Khan during an election campaign rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, July 21, 2018. Pakistan will hold general election on July 25. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

However, the day has not been without violence, as interparty violence and militant attacks have left over a dozen dead.

In the western city of Quetta, at least 28 people were killed and 30 injured in a suspected suicide attack outside a polling station, police and local media reported Wednesday.

A suspected suicide bomber, acting alone, tried to enter a polling station on the eastern outskirts of Quetta, capital of the southwestern Balochistan province, but blew himself up when he was tackled by security personnel, local broadcaster Express News reported.

The blast took place near a long queue of voters, the channel reported. City police chief Abdul Razzak Cheema told reporters that the dead included five policemen. Authorities fear a rise in the death toll as several injured were in critical condition.

Another explosion rocked a polling station in the Larkana district of the southern Sindh province, the hometown of slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, injuring four people, Express TV reported.

In a village near the northwestern city of Sawabi, Pakistani police said a shooting between supporters of two opposing political parties left one person dead and wounded two people.

Police officer Khalid Hamdani said it was unclear what triggered the shootout between a group of supporters of the secular Awami National Party, which has often been targeted by the Taliban, and the Tehrik-e-Insaf led by former cricket star Imran Khan, a center-right party. Hamdani says the situation is now under control and voting is underway in Col Sher Khan village.

Ahead of Wednesday’s balloting, over 170 people — including three candidates running in the elections — were killed in suicide bombings in southwestern Baluchistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

More than 100 million registered voters will cast their ballots across Pakistan in a nail-biting end to an intense general election process that has been marred by claims of rigging and terrorism.

The ballots will be cast for 272 general seats of the lower house — also known as the National Assembly — and 577 general seats of the country’s four provincial assemblies.

Around 50 political and religious parties are taking part in the elections, which have been marred by allegations of “manipulation” and “engineering”. The main contest is expected to be between three mainstream political parties and a five-party religious alliance.

The fiercest part of the race is expected to be between the two right-wing parties — the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of three-time Premier Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in jail following a corruption verdict against him, and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) led by former cricket star Imran Khan.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto and religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) are also in the running.

According to the latest surveys held by Pakistani think-tanks, a neck-to-neck contest is expected between the PTI and the PML-N.

The PTI enjoys the support of 30-32 percent of voters whereas the PML(N) is the preferred choice of 27-30 percent of voters. The PML(N), however, has an edge over PTI in Punjab, the country’s most populous province and political powerbase.


Pakistan Chief Justice Says Killing of Ethnic Minority Hazara “Tantamount to Genocide”

May 11, 2018

Advocate Iftikhar Ali, who was representing the Hazara community, lamented that targeted killings of the ethnic minority have been going on for 20 years, yet not a single arrest has been made.

Image result for Hazara people, pakistan, photos

Hazara people


Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday said that the Hazara killings in Balochistan are tantamount to genocide, which is why the court took a suo motu notice of the targeted attacks.

A two-member Supreme Court (SC) bench, comprising Justice Nisar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing a suo motu case regarding the targeted killing of the Hazara community in Quetta. The CJP had taken a suo motu notice after the Hazara community staged a protest against the recent increase in targeted attacks that killed at least five people within a month.

“In my opinion, this [Hazara killing] is equivalent to genocide,” said Justice Nisar. “We have to protect the lives and property of the [people of the] Hazara community.”

Image result for Hazara people, pakistan, photos

Hazara community

“We have no words to condemn these unfortunate attacks,” lamented the CJP.

A report on Hazara killings was submitted in court by Quetta Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdur Razzaq Cheema on the CJP’s orders. According to the report, 399 Shia, 36 Sunni and 29 settlers from the Hazara community have been killed in targeted attacks during the past six years.

Read: Hazara massacre

In the past four months, nine people from the Hazara community have been murdered, the report stated. It added that 28 security officials have been killed so far in 2018. However, the situation has improved a lot now, Cheema claimed.

Advocate Iftikhar Ali, who was representing the Hazara community, lamented that targeted killings of the ethnic minority have been going on for 20 years, yet not a single arrest has been made.

“Our lives and property are being endangered,” he said. “Our people had to leave for Australia [to escape the situation].”

Ali also alleged that the police had withdrawn security from their community elders as well. The accusation was denied by Cheema.

The DIG told the court that 28 security officials had been killed in 2018 alone. At this point, the CJ asked Cheema if there was a connection between the killing of the Hazaras and security officials.

“We have worked very hard due to which the number of casualties has decreased,” Cheema responded and added that the Counter-Terrorism Department had arrested terrorists involved in cases of kidnapping for ransom.

Pakistan’s genocide zones: Where rule of law fears to go the Taliban from Afghanistan finds safe havens

May 5, 2018

Pakistan’s genocide zones: where minorities are subject to “ethnic cleansing” and extrajudicial killings — Where rule of law fears to go…. The Taliban is happy to find safe havens.

Image result for Quetta, pakistan, map

By Irfan Husain
Dawn (Pakistan)

I RECENTLY received an email from a reader that made me ashamed for not having written earlier about the Hazara ethnic/sectarian cleansing taking place in Balochistan.

The young Hazara woman writes: “… in Quetta we are imprisoned to a few kilometres … we can’t go out of this confined area… I am writing to you because I want you to support us, write about us, stand by us, stand against Shia killing and the genocide of Hazaras….”

Reinforcing her perception, Human Rights Watch reported a few years ago: “There is no travel route, no shopping trip, no school, or no work commute that is safe for the Hazaras.” According to this organisation, at least 509 Hazaras have been killed in this campaign that began nearly two decades ago. Hazaras put this figure closer to 3,000.

The recent hunger strike in Quetta by Hazara women emphasised the daily horrors the community faces.

Out of the reported 900,000 or so Hazara citizens who live mostly in Balochistan, around 70,000 are said to have fled, mainly to Australia, where there are reports that hundreds may have drowned during this perilous sea journey. Those who haven’t been able to make the attempt are confined to two ghettoes in Quetta guarded by police and military check posts. But once they leave to shop or work, their lives are at risk.

The recent hunger strike in Quetta by Hazara women emphasised the daily horrors the community faces. And the fact that they called off their protest after meeting the army chief, Gen Bajwa, rather than accepting the promises of security made personally by Ahsan Iqbal, the interior minister, is an open indictment of the failure of successive governments to protect them.

Related image

Gen Bajwa

The Hazaras have not been protesting for better living conditions, or schools, or jobs: all they are demanding is the basic human right to live. This right is enshrined in our Constitution, international law and in all religions. And yet, a spokesman for the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, while accepting responsibility for most of the Hazara killings a few years ago, added that his group was exacting vengeance for the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American commandos.

In fact, some suggest that the slaughter of Pakistani Hazaras began in earnest after 9/11 when the Afghan Taliban found safe haven in Quetta. Part of their baggage was apparently the desire to continue the genocide in Afghanistan where they had killed thousands of Hazaras for supposedly siding with the Northern Alliance.

Pakistani groups like the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan who had fought with the Taliban turned their guns on the Hazaras. Malik Ishaq, a founding member of the former group who is alleged to have masterminded the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009 from behind bars, was released on bail by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Unsurprisingly, elders of the Hazara community had expressed their apprehension at his release. Around the same time, several prominent Shia-hating extremists broke out of Mastung jail, possibly with inside help.

So when the Supreme Court chief justice conducts his suo motu hearings of the Hazara persecution in Quetta next week, I hope he will keep their fears of such collusion in mind. One possible nexus he might want to explore is the one mentioned by Jalila Haider, a Hazara lawyer and human rights activist, in a recent TV interview. According to her, Hazaras were being forced by the killings to sell their properties at throwaway prices to avoid the killers who were targeting them at their shops. Could they be acting in conjunction with some of the land mafias that thrive across the country?

The other thing to ask is how come Balochistan, the most heavily militarised province in the country, is so deadly not just for Hazaras, but for Baloch nationalists and non-Baloch workers as well. After all, if the many intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces operating there have managed to largely contain the separatist rebellion, why can’t they smash groups like the Laskhar-i-Jhangvi and the Sipah-i-Sahaba?

More than the Panamagate scandal, I blame Nawaz Sharif and his henchmen for their abject failure to implement the National Action Plan to end religious extremism in the country. Had they been even half-serious in taking the tough measures involved in cracking down on hate speech in our television chat shows, classrooms and mosques, we might have a chance to end the massacres the Hazaras are being subjected to.

Instead, we are stuck in our normal cycle of killings of minorities, crocodile tears from politicians and the media, and then business as usual.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2018

Pakistan: Four Christians Killed in Easter Monday Attack

April 3, 2018

Al Jazeera

Members of same family targeted outside relative’s home while visiting southwestern city to celebrate Easter holiday.


The shooting in Quetta was the latest to target Pakistan's Christian community [Arshad Butt/AP]
The shooting in Quetta was the latest to target Pakistan’s Christian community [Arshad Butt/AP]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – At least four people have been killed in an attack targeting Christians in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, officials say, the latest violence to target members of the minority in the South Asian country.

The four men, all members of the same Christian family, were shot to death outside a relative’s home in the Shah Zaman neighbourhood of the city on Monday evening.

“One young girl has been wounded, and four people have been killed, they were all Christians,” Ali Mardan, a senior police official, told Al Jazeera by telephone.

“They were shot dead.”

The family had travelled to Quetta to celebrate Easter with relatives, a family member told Al Jazeera.

“They were guests of ours, they came from Punjab [province] to celebrate Easter. As they left the house to go to the bazaar after dinner […] they were fired upon,” said Tariq Masih, a relative to the victims.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

At least four people were killed in a separate, unrelated shooting incident in Quetta on Monday, officials said.

That incident was related to a personal enmity, police said.

Attacks on minorities

Pakistan has been battling armed groups including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies, who seek to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the country, since 2007.

Violence has dropped in recent years, as a series of military operations have succeeded in displacing the TTP and allied groups from their strongholds in northwestern Pakistan, but sporadic large casualty attacks continue.

Attacks often target Pakistan’s minorities, including Shia Muslims as well as Christians, Hindus and members of the Ahmadiyya sect.

In December, a suicide bomb and gun attack targeting Sunday services at a church in Quetta killed at least eight people and left dozens of others wounded.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for that attack in a statement, but provided no proof of its involvement.

ISIL, also known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for several attacks targeting civilians in Balochistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, in recent years, including an attack on a Sufi shrine and multiple attacks on Hazara Shias.

On Sunday, a Hazara Shia man was killed and another wounded in a targeted attack in a Quetta bazaar, local media reported.

In all, at least 242 people were killed in attacks in Balochistan province in 2017, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal research organisation.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s Web Correspondent in Pakistan. Additional reporting by Saadullah Akhtar in Quetta.


Pakistani Taliban kill four government paramilitary troopers in gun attack

February 14, 2018

Quetta is plagued by attacks from militant movements like the Pakistani Taliban, who are separate from but loosely allied with the Taliban movement that ruled neighboring Afghanistan in the 1990s. (Reuters)
QUETTA, Pakistan: Pakistani Taliban militants shot dead four paramilitary soldiers in Pakistan’s western city of Quetta, where last month seven security men were killed in a suicide attack, police and the militant group said.
The Frontier Corps troopers were patrolling the residential neighborhood of Langoabad on motorcycles when they were fired on by gunmen also riding bikes, said Naseebullah Khan, Senior Superintendent of Police for Quetta.
“The four men were shot in the head,” Khan said, adding that handguns were used in the attack.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, rich in resources and at the heart of $58 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stretching from the Arabian Sea to China’s Xinjiang region.
The province, the poorest and least developed in Pakistan, has suffered nearly a decade of separatist violence against the government.
The area also is plagued by attacks from militant movements like the Pakistani Taliban, who are separate from but loosely allied with the Taliban movement that ruled neighboring Afghanistan in the 1990s and has fought an insurgency against western and Afghan government forces since 2001.