Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his various speeches between 14th August 1947 to September 1948 emphasized on the need of an integrated society in the newly born state of Pakistan. He was against provincialism and any division amongst the caste, creed, sect or ethnicity. He repeated so in Dacca, Lahore and his speeches on radio Pakistan. Probably, he saw the seeds of these diseases amongst his people and wanted to remind them again and again of this greatest illness in any society. Quaid must have been disturbed on the killings of Shia community from Hazara in Quetta recently. As the events unfolded on 10 January 2013, as many as 116 Hazara Shia’s were killed in twin bomb blasts on Alamdar Road, Quetta. This was a targeted attack against a very peaceful community and certain organizations immediately accepted the responsibility of such heinous crimes. May Allah put them on the right path, Amen!
The killings of such a large number of peaceful citizens of a particular community immediately caught attention of national and international media, political parties, civil societies and Human Rights organisations and activists. If there was anyone who missed the opportunity of becoming part of country wide mourners, it was the Provincial government of Balochistan. Like in the past, the provincial government didn’t fail in showing its apathy and total aloofness with this national tragedy. Federal government was also late to react, but as we say, it is never too late, but only after the tragic incident had gained country wide momentum of peaceful demonstrations and victim’s community’s decision not to bury the dead unless their demands were heard and met. The demands of the Hazara community were just and received unequivocal support from all segments of the society. It included removal of Provincial government, apprehending of the terrorists and handing over of control of Quetta city to Army since the provincial government had totally failed to maintain peace and improve law and order in the province in general and capital city of Quetta in particular.
The methodology of protest adopted by the families and community members of the deceased was unique and appealing. They kept the corpses of some 86 members under the open skies of Quetta in chilling rainy weather conditions where temperature ranged from sub zero degrees at night to fewer than 6˚-7˚ celcius in day time. The family members sat there alongside the deceased in one of the most appealing and emotionally charged but peaceful protest anywhere in the world. Elsewhere in the country and abroad, large demonstrations in support of Hazara Shia community were held peacefully supporting their demands. Federal government finally reacted after four days and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf announced removal of provincial government and imposition of Governor Rule for two months in the province. The same morning the dead were buried amid mixed emotions, and demos across the country were peacefully called off.
The incident should serve as an eye opener to the government. Supreme Court ruling in Balochistan case on 12 October 2012 had clearly stated that provincial government has lost the mandate to govern and the province has become ungovernable due to lack of law and order, and incompetence of the people at the helm of affairs. The Apex court categorically stated that the provincial government had constitutionally failed to curb human rights violations, targeted killings and kidnappings for ransom in the province, and had lost the authority to govern the province in accordance with the Constitution.
Yet Hazara Shias had to lay their lives to remove most incompetent government of the history of Balochistan. Though the incidents were tragic and made the nation sad, but brought them together against the apathetic regime of an indifferent person; Nawab Aslam Raisani, the Chief Minister of Balochistan who was abroad on a private visit and decided to remain away with whatever was happening in Quetta, and still said that his government has been punished for sticking to its stance on Riko Diq case. One would feel happy and satisfied that he is no more the Chief Executive of the province. Also, the nation deserves appreciation for being supportive to a just cause, and showing exemplary unified stance against the apathy of the government. The sad incident ended on a positive note that this great nation is still alive to stand behind any cast, sect of ethnicity that is being marginalized by any state or non-state actors. The political leaders, who visited and paid their respects for the deceased and their families, also deserve a pat on their back. Also, the members of civil society, media and the people outside the particular community deserve appreciation for taking the government head on until the demands of the aggrieved were not fulfilled, though partially. Such incidents, though sad and tragic, provide opportunity to rise above the self, put up a unified face of this great nation which was the dream of the Quaid. We must understand that our survival and progress lies in Unity, Faith and Discipline only, and not in divisions or compartmentations of this great country. Unless the terrorism and extremism is dealt with in its entirety adopting a whole of nation approach with one voice, the societal polarization would not decline; rather these would continue to become stronger and deadlier with the passage of time, God forbid.