The identities change, the locations change, the weapons change, but every few months essentially the same tragedy takes place; a peaceful minority is targeted in a deadly attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or their affiliates and the government stands in the wake of the carnage, dumbfounded. Perhaps the real tragedy is the fact that after each attack, the state follows a set format; the senior officials take ‘notice’, a few token junior officials are suspended, generic condemnations pour in, a joint investigation team is constituted, and an insufficient, and ultimately non-existent, compensation scheme is announced. Does the government consider its job done when it makes the correct political statements in the correct, mournful tenor? Do the lives of minorities mean so little? As the bodies pile up, the government has to answer several pressing questions.

Why was security not provided to the Ismaili transport when it is a known fact that the community is under threat and has been attacked before? Little more than a year ago the TTP released a video, declaring their war on the Ismaili and Kalash community. If security was actually provided what is the explanation for this lapse? The matter must be investigated and the results bought to the fore; an immediate suspension of the area’s Station House Officer (SHO) and District Superintendent of Police (DSP) before any facts are determined is not accountability. It show a reactionary mindset, that is more concerned with deflecting fault and appearing pro-active, rather than one that is concerned with actually fixing the breach. Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah must do more than bandy about empty gestures.

That being said, majority of the security related decisions in Karachi are being made by the Rangers, which come under the preview of the army. If they claim responsibility for the stabilization of Karachi’s volatile situation they must also shoulder the blame for the instability they are unable to control. However, the more pertinent questions lie at the doorstep of the military top brass. Despite claiming victory and remarkable progress in the military operations, the attacks against minorities continue unabated. At fixed intervals, military sources reveal the number of militants killed in the army operation – a number that increases day by day – yet no change is seen on the ground. The whole operation is shrouded in secrecy; no account is given of the military actions, no objective analysis of progress is presented. Are sectarian groups part of the operations mandate, or does the operation focus on anti-state actors? Is the ISIS threat, manifested through its affiliates – such as Jandullah, kept in check? These questions, amongst several others need to be answered.