The situation in Balochistan remains grim as ever. On Thursday alone, there were at least three separate incidents which lay bare the state of law and order in the province during the days leading up to Muharram. Two people were killed and seven injured in an explosion near an FC convoy on Qambrani Road, Quetta. Another eight people belonging to the predominantly Shia Hazara community were killed and one injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their bus when they were returning after purchasing vegetables in the Hazar Ganji area of Quetta. Lastly, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman was targeted by a suicide bomber in Quetta, but he remained unhurt owing to the bullet proof vehicle that had been provided to him by the Police. Unfortunately, another two people lost their lives and at least twenty-three sustained injuries in the incident. There are no good days in Balochistan. Thursday was just exceptionally horrific.

Which one of the three deserves most words? Perhaps it is time we accept the reality of the situation. The persecution of Hazaras will continue unabated. Political activities will remain exposed to similar attacks. Bombs will keep exploding near FC convoys. Hoping against them has absolutely no impact on the events that are bound to occur. We do not see any indicators – none – which would compel us to believe that the state will sooner or later overcome issues rapidly contributing to the disintegration of Balochistan. The situation cannot possibly improve in the absence of any meaningful and coherent effort. It can only deteriorate as it has, and it will not stop. What does the PML-N government plan to do about Balochistan? Does it have a concrete policy, or even suggestions to curb violence? We do not know. Other than regurgitating the standard stance on Balochistan, the one where they talk about inclusion and development, it has never offered much on the subject. Is Chief Minister Abdul Malik’s provincial government implementing its plan to prevent bloodshed, sectarian or otherwise? No, because there is no plan. Is the military or the FC able to see anything beyond the separatist insurgency? Is it taking serious action against known miscreants, especially sectarian elements who hold public rallies and call for the expulsion or murder of Shias and other minorities? No. And most unfortunately, there are allegations of patronage. Are the courts, the local administration and other institutions of the state doing any better? No. The result is completely predictable and natural.

Where is the sense of urgency, the panic that ought to have set in throughout Pakistan as tragedies unfold rountinely in Balochistan? Where is the political will? Where is the discourse on national television? How bad does it need to be for Balochistan to make the cut? As opposed to being regarded and ignored as a provincial problem, there is a need to establish it as a national issue – a top priority for the Parliament and other institutions. History will remember that when Balochistan was on fire, the rest of the country was busy finding shapes in the smoke.