The heirs of over 80 victims of Thursday’s blasts at a snooker club on Quetta’s Alamdar Road kept their loved ones bodies in the street, refusing to bury them until the army took control of the administration of Quetta. The protest, jn the freezing cold of Quetta, by the brave families have shaken the consciousness of a whole nation. The visit by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira failed to pacify the indignant families, nor spur the Balochistan government to action. The closure of the province to flights from abroad might have created some difficulties in the way of Chief Minister Aslam Raisani, but his absence abroad at this time of intense trial for his province and test for his government has not created a good impression. It should be noted that the Hazara community is willing for Governor’s Rule to be imposed on the whole of Balochistan, so deep has been the hurt caused by the Alamdar Road blasts. This is a position that would not provide a permanent solution, because it would mean that the military would be introduced in governance even though it, through the intelligence agencies, have been implicated in persons going missing, but which has perhaps done more to create disaffection among the people of the province than any other single factor. That other political parties are monitoring the situation closely has been shown by the arrival in Balochistan of PTI chief Imran Khan. He is probably the first of what will well turn out to be a large number of political leaders anxious to have some involvement in what could be a very emotive issue nationwide.

There has been considerable criticism of the government, and the Chief Minister’s remaining abroad will only enhance it. Already, such authorities as the Supreme Court have been strongly critical of the government, while in a meeting with a Hazara delegation on Friday, the province’s Governor firmly blamed it for the latest outrage. It should be remembered that there have been a number of incidents in which members of the Shia community have been targeted, not only occurring in Balochistan, but also other parts of the country. As the Alamdar Road entered the fourth day with the government waking up now to address the problem, protests spread to several other parts of the country. There are sit-ins and barricades laid across some of the main thoroughfares and railway lines of all major cities. The protesters are vowing not to disperse till foolproof measures are taken to ensure the safety and security of their lives and property.

At this point, with the Assemblies almost at the end of their term, there is no point in risking the whole democratic system just to prolong the stay in office. The Raisani government should opt for general elections. If this means that the whole country undergoes polls, this would be a very small price to pay, especially if the federal and provincial governments the election yields are ready to work hard to solve this crisis and allow the Alamdar Road families to finally grieve for those lost.