Security forces have started an operation against the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in Balochistan following attacks targeting security forces. The LeJ has claimed responsibility for various mass casualty attacks against the Shia community in Pakistan, including multiple bombings that killed over 200 Hazara Shias in Quetta in 2013. It has also been linked to the Mominpura Graveyard attack in 1998, the abduction of Daniel Pearl in 2002, and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009.

LeJ is a predominantly Punjabi group that should be tackled in Punjab so that the head of the snake can be cut off. In this context, there is not much heard about the much-hyped Punjab operation to rid the province of militants. Without a successful culling in the Punjab, the rest of the country will not be safe. This is the economic heart of the country and eventual main target for extremists. Secondly, while the LeJ is out to create sectarian strife, the action against Lej and actions for the security in Balochistan do not acknowledge the sectarian dimension of the problem. The Baloch and Pashtun populations living in Balochistan have an indifferent attitude as both Balochs and Pashtuns follow Sunni Islam. No Chief Minister or Governor of Balochistan has ever prioritised the sectarian war on the streets of Quetta. Sectarian violence has emerged a monster mainly in its capital city, Quetta, and its neighbouring districts.

The reason why security in Balochistan is being taken seriously now is the multi-billion-dollar CPEC project i.e. is to protect investment, rather than to protect people. We can only hope that the focus on economy will have a spillover and the social situation of Balochistan will improve as well, yet it stings that the state had to have dollar signs in its eyes to finally start focusing on cleaning up Balochistan. While we can support the state going after LeJ now, the complexity of issues in Balochistan related to terrorism are ignored and undebated.