The killing of at least 84 people of the Hazara community, by the bomb blast on Saturday in Kirani Road in Quetta, which also left 180 injured, represents not just a horrific tragedy, but also a total failure of Governor Zulfiqar Magsi. Governor’s Rule had been imposed on the province on January 13, just over a month ago, after the Alamdar Roads blasts killed 86. The Governor, who was entrusted the government of the province after the dismissal of the Raisani government, was supposed to end the bloodletting of the Hazara community, for whom the Alamdar Road blasts had by no means been the first. Instead of bringing peace to his provincial capital, Nawab Magsi has been forced to say that there had been an intelligence failure. This will not wash, and it is unlikely to find any favour not just with the Hazara community, which had crossed the limits of its endurance with the Alamdar Road blasts, but with the country as a whole, which is deeply concerned about what is happening in the country’s largest province. With the perpetrators confident enough to claim responsibility, there does not seem simply to have been an intelligence failure, but a full-fledged dereliction of duty. Nawab Magsi is responsible to the extent that he failed to detect this. Either he must obtain a free hand in dealing with the problem, or the federal government must find someone who can deliver.
There has not been a revival of the demand voiced after the Alamdar Road blasts, that the Army intervene. That may be repeated, though it does seem that this would not solve matters. Elections are around the corner, but the problem is too urgent to allow any waiting for that election to throw up a government to tackle the problem.
There has been much harm caused, not just to the Hazara or Shia communities, or to Balochistan, but to Pakistan as a whole. This is not the time when Governor Magsi or the intelligence agencies can absolve themselves of blame or responsibility, or attempt to assuage the outrage by only announcing rewards for information or compensation for victims. Instead, he must make clear how he plans to make the province safer for what the victims of Saturday’s blast were doing: going about their everyday lawful occupations. It must not be forgotten that this was what the Balochistan government was sacked for failing to do, and why Nawab Magsi was given the government. If he fails to achieve that purpose, it would not mean that the province has become ungovernable, as much as that the PPP is incapable of governing it. It would appear that the province is ripe for an election, because any permanent solution can only be achieved by a government with a mandate.