NationalVOLUME 16 ISSUE # 11

Terrorism and police killings in Pakistan

It is a fact that Pakistan is a class-ridden country, where the principle of might is followed and implemented in every walk of life. Almost all state institutions serve and protect the partisan interests of the ruling elite. Since 1947, the ruling elite, including politicians, businesspeople, feudal lords, religious leaders, Pirs and bureaucrats etc have controlled and captured all resources of the country. While, the poor people are living in abject poverty, ignorance, hunger, insecurity, unhealthy and polluted environments.

All laws and institutions have been made to control and enslave poor people. There are two laws in the country. There is one law for the rich and another for the poor. The law protects the corruption and interests of the ruling elite. Corrupt and criminal leaders, the culprits of the Model Town and Sahiwal massacres are free and have been protected by the prevailing system. While, the second law controls and crushes the poor and innocent people of Pakistan. Thousands of children and women have been abused. Thousands of children are not going to schools. In fact, there is no equality and the rule of law in the country. Terrorist attacks have increased again. Extremism is on the rise. There is a marked increase in Covid 19 cases across the country. The PTI government has totally failed to solve the problems. The so-called Pakistan democratic Movement (PDM) is holding protests just to save the corruption of its leaders. They are not feeling any hesitation to put the lives of poor people in danger amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is unfortunate.

In the first week of 2021, two very tragic incidents occurred in Pakistan. Eleven Hazara miners were slaughtered in Balochistan’s Machh area. While, the Islamabad police killed a 22-year-old student, Osama, cold-bloodedly.

On January 3, armed men, belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), abducted and killed around 11 Hazara coal miners in the Machh area of Balochistan. According to officials, “The attackers had blindfolded the miners, tied their hands behind their backs and shot them at close range. Most of the victims’ throats were also slit”. The ISIS terrorists filmed the tragic and gruesome incident and later posted it online. After the tragic incident, thousands of Hazaras staged a protest. “We have become tired of picking up the bodies of our people,” Syed Agha Raza, a Hazara Shia political leader, told Reuters. Masooma Yaqoob Ali told Reuters her elder brother along with four other relatives were among those killed. “Now we have no male member (of our family) to take coffins of our brother and other relatives to the graveyard for burial,” she said. “This is an attempt to sabotage peace in the province and to provoke sectarian strife. We urge the government to bring the perpetrators to justice immediately,” Haji Jawad, a local Hazara leader, said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the violence calling the incident “yet another cowardly inhumane act of terrorism.” He directed the Frontier Corps to “use all resources to apprehend the killers”. He also assured the bereaved families that they would not be left alone in the hour of need. However, it is a bitter reality that the PTI government has completely failed to protect the Shia Hazaras from terrorists. Around 600,000 Hazaras are living in Quetta. They have emigrated from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the peace-loving community has been the victim of many suicide attacks.

In 2013, over 200 Hazaras were massacred and more than 500 wounded by terrorists. Around 20 people — including 10 Hazaras — were killed in a Quetta marketplace suicide bombing in April 2019. The attack was claimed by the IS. It is also a known fact that the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, a terrorist sectarian organisation, works closely with the ISIS and other anti-Shia terror organisations in Balochistan. To protect themselves, the Hazaras have already enclaved themselves in two areas in Quetta. Due to it, they are facing many economic, education and social problems. Many members of the community have already left the country and sought asylum in other countries.

In spite of facing the acute problems in the enclaved areas, the community is not safe from terrorists. It is a complete failure of the government and its agencies. They should improve their networks and professional duties to save the Hazara community members. There is no doubt that India’s RAW is funding the terror organisations for halting the CPEC. The militants also martyred seven FC soldiers in a gun attack on a post in Harnai in Balochistan on December 27. In October, in an encounter with terrorists, seven FC soldiers and as many private security guards lost their lives in Ormara. The government should acknowledge and remove the fault lines, including poverty, extremism, a sense of exploitation etc. among the people of Balochistan.

Dawn writes: “Surely, in a province crawling with security and intelligence personnel, violent extremists such as these should not be difficult to track down. They could also be traced through the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, which also has an overtly anti-Shia agenda. But when one considers that the head of the ASWJ’s Balochistan chapter, Ramzan Mengal, was released from prison — only two days before the marketplace bombing — and allowed to contest the 2018 general election, it becomes clear that there are wheels within wheels here. Certainly, there may be some truth to claims being made that those who slaughtered the coal miners are foreign-funded, but the whole truth is far more nuanced”.

On the other hand, the police’s brutality and extrajudicial killings have not yet stopped in the country. This time, the Islamabad police killed a 22-year-old Osama Satti in Islamabad on January 2. According to reports, he was going back to his home after dropping a friend. He was stopped by the personnel of the Islamabad police. He allegedly did not pull up. The police chased and killed him by shooting seventeen bullets at his body.

The tragic incident has created a strong anger and fear among the people of Pakistan. The prime minister, human rights activists and ordinary citizens have condemned the incident. However, nothing will happen in the case and the arrested police men would be freed after some time. Because, the policemen involved in the Model Town bloodshed in 2014 and the brutal Sahiwal case in 2019 are already free after being absolved of the murder of innocent people, including women and children. Rao Anwar, who killed Naqeebullah Mehsud, is also enjoying his life outside jail. The killing of Mehsud has created the PTM, which is now even threatening the state and security institutions. The killing of Osama clearly shows that the police can kill anybody without any reason and fear of being punished. Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised police reforms before coming to power. But unfortunately, after coming to power, he and his PTI government have forgotten their promise. After the Sahiwal case, Imran Khan had promised to introduce police reforms but practically, his government has done nothing. Rather, the PTI government and party members are using the police force to protect their own partisan interests. Therefore, there is no hope of police reforms and the poor people of Pakistan might again see the killing of innocent and helpless people by the police in the near future.