Editorial: Attack on BUITEMS Bus
In yet another tragic act of terrorism in Quetta on Monday, June 18, at least five students of the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) were killed while around 60 people were injured. The attack was caused by a remote-controlled bomb which was fixed in a car parked on the roadside. Until the writing of this editorial, no group has accepted responsibility for the attack.
The local police say they are investigating the tragic episode. Considering the police department’s failure in the past to probe such unfortunate assaults, it is very unlikely to come across reliable findings regarding Monday’s blast from the police department. Authorities in Balochistan find it easy to get away from responsibility by simply blaming ‘outside forces’ for causing instability in the province. That is a shortcut to find exemption from one’s responsibilities but not an appropriate response to questions raised in the aftermath of such attacks. We believe the enemy lies within us but such blatant denial amounts to encouraging and patronizing enemies of humanity.
According to reports, all of the dead students belong to the Hazara ethnic community. This then takes us back to the ongoing cycle of the gruesome violence directed at the Hazaras for several years now. There has been an extraordinary upsurge in violence from the Sunni militant groups against the largely peaceful Hazara community in the past few months. The perpetrators are hard to catch because of their nastily creative skills. Each attack on the Hazaras is designed in a new and unique way by making it hard for the local police to act on the basis of learnt lessons from previous incidents. Although there have been a few serious attacks on buses carrying Hazara pilgrims to Iran, killing dozens of innocent people, an attack on a student bus is unprecedented.
The killing of students triggered protests in front of the Quetta Press Club from students who called upon the government to punish the elements responsible for this dark episode. There is an urgent need for the government to fulfill its responsibility of protecting people’s lives. Sunni militant groups which have been attacking Hazaras have a clear strategy and a clearly defined goal. Not only do they want to terrify the Hazaras by such brutal assaults, but they want to make sure that the Hazaras remained tightly confined to their towns. They want to restrict the Hazara men from going to markets and attending schools. We have said it a number of times before that the State should play its role in protecting people’s right to religious and political freedom and also the right to assemble.
At micro-level, the intention of the blast may have been to punish the Hazara students, such attacks set an extremely dangerous trend in our society. Irrespective of nature and demands of the ongoing conflicts in Balochistan, we strongly urge all stakeholders to refrain from attacking our educational institutions and students in their conflicts. The state of education has abysmally declined in the recent times in Balochistan for a number of reasons. Yet, we sincerely hope that issues like religion and politics do not perturb students’ academic years. The government must act swiftly to bring justice to the families of those students who were killed in Monday’s attack.
Malik Siraj Akbar
The Baloch Hal
Published in The Baloch Hal on June 18, 2012