More problems in Quetta

  • No end in sight?

It was hoped that the army chief’s visit, and assurances made about better security in future, would help bring stability to Quetta sooner rather than later. But it seems the city must endure yet more terrorism before the new security regime is implemented. Fortunately no lives were lost in Thursday’s attack on a railway track in in the provincial capital, and the bomb disposal squad was able to disarm another 20kg bomb planted on the same railway. Yet there was damage to infrastructure and long delays for passengers. And, of course, another security loophole has been exposed.

For far too long authorities have struggled to keep a lid on the terrorism in Quetta, even though it is a small city filled to the brim with security personnel, including the army. The Safe City project inaugurated by Gen Bajwa, which includes increased surveillance and beefing up security at entry and exit points, is a step in the right direction. More check post in Hazara-majority areas is also a welcome step, even though it has taken its sweet time coming. Gen Bajwa’s promises have raised some hope again in Quetta once again where people have long since lost any faith in repeated pledges made by the government.

Neglecting Balochistan any longer will not just mean more misery for religious and ethnic minorities from now on. The province is the fountain-head of CPEC, and continued instability there will deliver a serious blow to commercial activity about to flow from the Corridor. Also, with elections around the corner and political activity increasing the security apparatus will have to be really up to scratch. The people of Balochistan, especially Quetta, have paid the price of the government’s inaction for decades. Hopefully new measures being put in place will bring down criminal and terrorist activity in the province to a large degree.