Balochistan’s capital city is in the grip of terrorist activities for some time now and a series of target killings and sectarian strife have  claimed heavy human toll. On Friday, a suicide blast near the residence of former federal minister, Naseer Mengal killed over a dozen persons, including women and children while more than two dozen were seriously injured. The target of the assassins was Shafiq Mengal; however, he and his family remained unhurt. Only a day earlier, Dr Baqir Shah, who had been carrying out forensic investigations of the Kharotabad incident, was assassinated. Some months back, buses carrying pilgrims to Iran were stopped and were fired upon by armed bandits. The most unfortunate aspect of this wave of terror is that the authorities have failed to find any clue of who is behind these crime against humanity. As usual Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered an inquiry and sought a report. Calling for a report or sounding oft-repeated rhetoric has not yet served any purpose, nor is it expected to now. In the presence of so many intelligence agencies in every nook and cranny of the province, terrorist elements still feel free to operate as they please. Another aspect is that a large number of foreigners are present in the province and there is no one to investigate the purpose of their extended stays. True, Quetta is a hub of cross-border activities between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, but this should be all the more reason for foolproof checking and patrolling machinations to be in place, to monitor illegal movement of anti-social and anti-state elements.

The provincial government has miserably failed to control the ever-deteriorating law and order situation in the province, with regular reports of people either being kidnapped or killed and their mutilated bodies found. Local authorities blame it on insurgent forces who have taken to the mountains, while the nationalists accuse intelligence services for being responsible for selectively killing their sympathisers or active supporters. It is urgent that the provincial government and security agencies perform their tasks with commitment and bring to an end the on-going bloodbath in Balochistan.

As a first step, all foreigners staying there without valid visas or documents should be instructed to leave the province and then the provincial government should engage disgruntled nationalists in talks, if peace is to be restored.