Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad told a three-member Supreme Court bench hearing a petition, filed by Balochistan High Court Bar Association, on the law and order situation in the province that the number of criminal elements in sectarian terrorists’ hideouts was increasing. And that “some individuals who have been influenced by proscribed outfits are now working in the police force.” Those familiar with the prevailing state of affairs had been pointing out that a large seminary devoted to fanning sectarian hatred freely operated not very far from Quetta, the scene of several massive terrorist attacks on the Shia Hazara community. If the police are getting influenced, too, it should be expected. It may be recalled that the police guard who assassinated the then Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, was also said to have acted on the inciting rhetoric of a seminary cleric.
Deeply disturbing as the Chief Secretary’s submissions are, they should not be surprising considering that the previous government had done next to nothing to stop recurring incidents of sectarian terrorism. The lack of interest at the highest levels surely served as a disincentive for the police to act. No less discouraging would be the fact that the operational commander of the proscribed Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, Usman Kurd, and his deputy Dawood Badini, who were sentenced to death by a Quetta anti-terrorism court, escaped in 2008 from the Quetta Cantonment’s high security prison. Those men, reports say, are behind the recent wave of attacks on the city’s Shia community. Sectarian terrorism, though, is a countrywide menace. The LeJ started off in Punjab and now has its franchises across the country. The policy so far had been to ban some of sectarian outfits, leaving their leaders free to reinvent their identities to go on pursuing their violent agendas under new names. Now that they are threatening to undermine peace and security everywhere there is a realisation that it must be stopped. The new governments, both at the Centre and in Balochistan, have been paying serious attention to the issue.
Following the June 30 terrorist bombing in the Hazara Town that left 28 people dead and another 65 injured, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went to the city accompanied not only by the Interior Minister and Secretary but also the chiefs of the two premier intelligence agencies, ISI and MI. During the visit, he attended a briefing session with all concerned, the provincial government leaders as well as the FC Inspector General and the provincial head of the ISI, asking pertinent questions. He made it clear that complacency is no longer an option and that the government expected results from the concerned agencies. The seriousness displayed both by the prime minister and the new provincial government seems to have started making a difference. The chief secretary told the court that there was a visible change in the police attitude, and that they had started conducting effective raids in the troubled areas forcing terrorist out, and that the FC and the Levies have also been engaged in such operations. Things are beginning to work, presumably, because unlike the past, these organisations and the intelligence agencies are now sharing information and also co-ordinating their activities. It is equally important to implement the laws that prohibit preaching of sectarian hatred which has been poisoning the minds of people, including those in the law enforcement agencies.