The latest attack on a bus carrying passengers to Karachi from Pishin district, which left 21 dead and several injured, in just one in a long list of deadly attacks that have swept Balochistan. Check posts are still being stormed, the minorities are still being bombed, and prominent civil activist still targeted and random civilians – such as the ones aboard the buses in Mustang – are still being caught in the crossfire. The standard state reply, which asserts that these attacks are part of an expected reprisal that we must persevere through, is a valid one; but it has its limits. It cannot be used to justify every single act of terrorism. The state needs to own up to the responsibility it took upon itself when starting this operation – protecting civilians. The Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti laid the blame on India’s spy agency RAW. Though foreign elements may indeed have a hand in causing mischief, this excuse is another way to skirt blame and responsibility for all the deaths in Balochistan.

As more and more people start asking these questions, the state will find itself being increasingly pressurised by the victims and their relatives; repeated state failure will convert the anger against the militant’s atrocities into frustration against an inept administration. The tense protests outside the Chief Minister’s house are a hint of what is to come if the state does not ensure the security of Balochistan, it will have a hard time convincing its inhabitants that they owe their loyalty to the state. Of course the state has done extensive work, no one is asserting they have been idle, and admittedly the state, limited by resources and manpower, cannot thwart all attacks; but such plausible arguments have little effect on someone who has lost a son, or seen a relative being blown to pieces. Justice must not only be done it must be seen to be done. The effects must be seen through the public’s own eyes; perhaps if state’s story can be independently verified, and the breadth of the challenge truly perceived, the nation can persevere for a while longer – not indefinitely, still.