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Saturday, April 14, 2012

No let-up in violence: Governor fears Balochistan sliding into civil war

By Shehzad Baloch
Published: April 14, 2012

Protesters shout slogans during a rally in Quetta, against the killing of Hazara community members. Rallies were staged across the country against sectarian violence. PHOTO: AFP

Incensed by the alarming rise in incidents of targeted killings, Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi has said that if the security situation does not improve, a civil war may break out in the restive province.

“I don’t know what the government is doing? The situation is slipping out of control. Target killings are happening on a daily basis despite the presence of paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), Balochistan Constabulary and police,” a visibly upset governor said during a meeting with a delegation of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP).

“We will be compelled to call out Pakistan Army and FC in Quetta, if the government does not check incidents of target killings,” he said.

In recent months, there has been an alarming surge in target killings of ethnic Hazaras, who are Shias by sect, in Balochistan, Quetta in particular.

The HDP delegation met with Governor Magsi following a protest sit-in by Hazara community members outside the Governor House and Chief Minister Secretariat.

The delegation lodged a protest with the governor over targeted killings of Hazaras in Balochistan. The governor assured the delegation that he would take up the matter with Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani.

He also directed the authorities to launch an effective crackdown against the groups stoking sectarian violence in the province. “We have a huge cabinet and almost all provincial legislators are ministers – but they are least interested in maintaining law and order,” he added.

Earlier, hundreds of HDP activists staged a rally. They marched on different roads and thoroughfares of the city, chanting slogans against the government and law enforcers for their “failure to check target killings of the Hazaras”. Enraged protesters removed barricades erected by law enforcers on Zarghoon Road and entered the high security zone where they staged a sit-in outside the Governor House and Chief Minister Secretariat.

Meanwhile, targeted killings of the Hazaras continued unabated in Quetta as another member of the community was shot dead soon after Friday prayers.

The victim, Muhammad Ali Hazara, a watchman by profession, was shot dead by gunmen outside a shop on Abdul Sattar Road. With the latest killing the number of Hazaras killed over the last 24 hours has risen to four. Six Hazaras were targeted on Monday last.

The latest killing whipped up panic in different neighbourhoods of the city, including Liaquat Bazaar, Prince Road, Mezan Chowk and Jinnah Road where shopping centres, markets and eateries were closed. However, contingents of police and FC reached the spot to restore order.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.

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