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The Hazara and COAS

The COAS swooped in to Quetta. There, he met the Hazara; who had, since the end of last week, been protesting the continued targeted attacks suffered by their community. Indeed, the latter insisted on not making do with civilian leaders alone but had sat it out, quite literally, for Gen Bajwa.
And though it paid off in the short-term, much more needs to be done. But for now the group has agreed to come off the streets and put an end to street agitation; which was in reality anything but. All the Hazara are demanding is the right to life and for this to be equally recognised by both law enforcement and security agencies. Additional protection. No more murder with impunity.
Yet what has the COAS actually brought to the table, aside from the usual reassurances? Simply put, it is hard to tell.
According to the ISPR press release, Gen Bajwa promised the Hazara that those who singled them out would suffer twice as much. While underscoring how each state institution is preoccupied with citizen security. So far so good. Though it was left to Ahsan Iqbal to talk statistics; as he duly noted the number of targeted Hazara murders in Quetta has dropped over the last five years from 215 to 8. (The National Commission of Human Rights reports the considerably higher tally of 509 for the same period). Yet even here, the Interior minister tweeted his data. Meaning it remains unclear whether or not actual figures were mentioned and acknowledged during the meeting.
What is known, however, is that the COAS had at his fingertips the number of security personnel killed in Quetta so far this year: 37. As regrettable as this is — it is not comparable to ordinary civilian deaths. For bluntly put, the latter were not killed in the line of duty. Then came the misplaced reminder from Gen Bajwa that “we are Muslim first”. True, he did go on to add that every Pakistani “irrespective of religion, sect, language or caste has to stay steadfast and united to defeat hostile forces trying to create divisions”. Yet this misses the point that primary duty of care in this regard rests with the state apparatus. Never vice versa.
Then there was the cloak-and-dagger reference to “hostile agencies” and their support for particular terrorist networks. This should not come as a surprise. After all, the military establishment has long blamed India for actively fomenting unrest in Balochistan. Something that ‘reformed asset’ Ehsanullah Ehsan confirmed; whilst also implicating Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS). Yet if New Delhi and Kabul are the only actors with blood on their hands — this surely raises important concerns about border security.



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