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State a spectator as citizens mowed down by fanatics: HRCP

Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned Thursday’s killing of 25 Shia Muslims pulled out of buses headed for Gilgit Baltistan, as well as target killing of three Shias in Quetta and demanded that the authorities explain why the killers roamed free and how the government planned to ensure security for the citizens targeted because of their religious belief.

The Commission said in a statement: “HRCP is appalled that terrorists have once again succeeded in targeting without any difficulty Shia Muslims on their way to Gilgit Baltistan. Thursday’s attack was similar to the one carried out in Kohistan in February in more than one respect. Again buses were stopped on a main road by men in military uniforms, Shia passengers were separated from the rest and executed. Many transporters had started using the Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad route instead of the Karakoram Highway after the February killings, from which the region had yet to recover. Thursday’s attack occurred on this changed route. Other than claims of responsibility made by Taliban or other bands of extremist militants, the authorities appear to be clueless about who the attackers were or how to stop them.

Killing of three men belonging to Quetta’s long suffering Hazara Shia community on Thursday further underlined the hazards that Shia Muslims face in Pakistan. Such targeted killing of people because of their religious beliefs is unfortunately no longer an anomaly in Pakistan. Those keen on creating new minorities in Pakistan have made sure of that. However, HRCP has no hesitation in stating that the terrorists managed to strike on Thursday only because those behind earlier target killings in Kohistan and Quetta had not been tracked down.

The killings are doubtless the work of those who want to destroy Pakistan, but a failure to nab and punish the killers is also contributing to the same end. The attack on Kamra airbase on the same day provided evidence, if further evidence was needed, that Taliban were nobody’s friends and those who had created this monster had taken Pakistan down the road of annihilation.

The authorities owe an explanation to the people for their inability to crack down on sectarian killers and for the most flagrant failure in protecting the lives of citizens. HRCP would very much like to know what words of solace and reassurance the government can offer to the families of the victims and members of a community that is increasingly certain that terrorists get support from within the security agencies. To them that could be the only explanation why the killers could not be apprehended and disappear into thin air even in areas with only one road in and one out. They must tell the people what steps the government has taken to end impunity for the killers and ensure security for Shia Muslims, including those in Quetta and the citizens travelling to and from Gilgit Baltistan.”

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