The whole country seems to have protested that followed Saturday’s blast in a market in Quetta’s Kirani Road that killed 89 innocent people. While the families of the victims refused to bury their dead on Tuesday, members of the Shia community all over the country joined in the protest, demanding Army intervention. Sit-ins disrupted road and rail traffic countrywide, as anger continued to pour out, while people desperately sought, but did not find, the answer to the question of why. There was some speculation in both Houses of Parliament, which separately debated the issue. The Prime Minister did say that the demands of the Hazara community would be met, but since he had already dismissed the government which held office at the time of the Alamdar Roadblasts last month, he did not have the option, exercised then, of imposing Governor’s Rule. The Balochistan Home Secretary held a press conference to say there was no need for army intervention. The parliamentary delegation to Quetta was an indication that the Prime Minister did not want to go himself, perhaps because he did not see what he could do, so he sent a delegation without executive powers. However, PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif not just denounced the killings, but also said that it proved the absence of any government in Balochistan, as well as the failure of the federal government to control the situation. Though the protests have been called off on the assurance of action, the nation is still in a state of shock.

The PML-N stands to benefit in the coming general elections from the incompetence being shown by the PPP. However, if the violence spreads, the election might be postponed, something which would help the President, who would face for re-election the same assemblies which elected him in the first place, and through him, the PPP. However, at this juncture, while politicians will only fulfill expectations by politicking, this is not the time when there should be any jockeying for advantage. Rather, it is essential that all elements of society come together, including public representatives, and work out a solution that allows the country as a whole, and the Hazara community in particular, the opportunity to go about its lawful occasions in peace.

One of the most vital elements has been expressed, but not acted upon: the need to capture and punish the perpetrators. A sectarian organization has claimed responsibility for both the Alamdar Roadand Kirani Road blasts. That organization is playing the game of someone else, quite possibly that of India, which the Interior Minister, in a statement in the National Assembly, named. The President, Prime Minister and COAS decided on an operation in Quetta on Tuesday, which was better late than never, but leaving the haunting question of whether this decision demanded the deaths of so many peaceable citizens. It is important that there must be no failures. The sacking of the IGP Balochistan and the regional intelligence chief was an inevitability, but it solves nothing, though it does show that the federal government may have finally realised how serious is the problem.