Yesterday’s chilling target killing of 25 Shias in the Babusar area of the Mansehra district left the nation stunned. Identified by ID cards after they were dragged off their bus, the travellers were shot at point blank range. The attack was claimed by the Terhreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, the same day as it claimed responsibility for the Kamra airbase attack. The same day, three men from the Hazara community were shot dead, travelling back from their place of employment on a rickshaw, by armed assailants in Quetta. The attack was claimed by the Jaish-i-Islam group. Today, the motorcycles leading a procession to join the Al-Quds rally organized by the Imamia Student Federation were shot at. Immediately after, the bus following behind, carrying 25 students from the Karachi University to participate in the rally exploded as a bomb installed inside was detonated by remote.

The frequency, brutality and cold-hearted targeting with which acts of terrorism are being perpetrated against the Shia community in Pakistan should set alarm bells ringing in the corridors of power at Islamabad. The trend is a source of serious concern for the patriotic sections of society and those who believe that all citizens, irrespective of their religious or political persuasions, have the right to live in the country in peace. Unless the spirit of understanding and goodwill that not long ago used to prevail in the country rules the minds of people again, there would be chaos and disarray in their ranks. There is an urgent need to devise a well thought out plan to get rid of the menace of intolerance, root and branch. And the best means to achieve the goal, though in the long term, is through the introduction of a studied system of tolerant education that instils the virtues of peace and brotherhood.

Side by side, there is also need to probe the causes that have led to such militant groups operating with impunity and then phoning in responsibility, all the way planning their next heinous act. Where exactly are our security establishment when protection against such evil is needed? In this context, certain pertinent questions call for answer. No Pakistani will stand for such violence in the name of religion or against any community on the basis of their faith. This is exactly the kind of victimization that Pakistan was formed to protect its citizens against. Pakistanis stand together under these principles of our founding fathers and always will. Security agencies must step forward and unequivocally crush any efforts to cause unrest in Pakistan. Thus far, their failures have been recorded in blood.