News / Asia

Bomb Targeting Minority Shiites a Failure of Pakistan Security

Local residents stand over the rubble of a damaged market caused by Saturday's bombing in Quetta, Pakistan on February 17, 2013. Local residents stand over the rubble of a damaged market caused by Saturday's bombing in Quetta, Pakistan on February 17, 2013.
x
Local residents stand over the rubble of a damaged market caused by Saturday's bombing in Quetta, Pakistan on February 17, 2013.
Local residents stand over the rubble of a damaged market caused by Saturday's bombing in Quetta, Pakistan on February 17, 2013.
Sharon Behn
The governor of Pakistan's Baluchistan province has lashed out at the country's security forces for failing to adequately protect the area's minority Shi'ite Muslims.  Analysts tell VOA that extremists are taking advantage of a lack of national consensus on how to deal with militant groups.

Governor Zulfiqar Magsi declared a day of mourning for the victims of Saturday's massive bomb blast, which left almost 80 dead and 160 wounded.

The attack in the provincial capital of Quetta appeared to target the minority Hazara community - Shi'ite Muslims who settled in Baluchistan province a century ago from Afghanistan.  A Sunni militant group claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Magsi said even though Pakistani security forces have a free hand to deal with extremist groups, they are failing to pre-empt attacks such as Saturday's bombing, which was in a crowded market area.
 
"There are two possibilities: one, you can't trust them (security forces), the second is, probably everybody's scared, because they probably think they may become targets themselves," said Magsi. "
 
Protesters fed up with the violence took to the streets in Quetta, the main southern city of Karachi and the capital Islamabad, demanding that the government take action.  Local Hazara called a strike and shuttered their shops.

The banned Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing as well a similar attack in January that left more than 90 dead.  The group does not consider Shi'ites to be real Muslims.

Analyst Rasul Baksh Rais says the Pakistani state simply does not have the capacity to deal with the multiple militant groups operating in the country. As a result he says, the focus is on the Pakistani Taliban and the Baluchistan nationalist insurgency, not sectarian violence.
 
"It's not that the state has basically wiped its hands of minority issues, or the Shias being targeted," said Rais. "It's that it is Baluchistan - it's a place where the state's priority is a nationalist insurgency, and that, combined with a weak political government, has given space to Jundullah and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to team up to attack the Shia Hazaras in and around Quetta."
 
Jundullah is a Sunni militant group believed to have ties with al-Qaida.
Former Intelligence Services member, retired Brig. Asad Munir agrees with Governor Magsi that the latest attack pointed to an intelligence failure. But he says stopping future attacks will require a national policy on terrorism -- and pressure to force the government and security forces to act.

"If there is a consensus in the whole country that extremism in all forms is a threat to the internal security of this country, then we can handle it," said Munir. "This terrorism can only be handled by armed forces supported by police and other security agencies."

To date, the government has been unable to craft a national policy on how to deal with different extremist groups operating in the country.
Critics say Pakistan's powerful intelligence agencies in the past worked with militant groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to counter external threats, but then lost control over them.

Although banned, the group still often operates with impunity.
Human rights groups say sectarian attacks against Shi'ite Muslims have recently spiked in predominantly Sunni Pakistan. Last year, such attacks killed more than 400 Shi'ite Muslims.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid