Islamabad: Pakistan’s human rights watchdog has voiced grave concern over the recent targeted sectarian and ethnic violence in the country’s restive Balochistan province.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for punishing the perpetrators and for addressing the “root causes” that allow such violence to persist.
In a statement, the HRCP said it has noted with great alarm the rise of apparently sectarian and ethnic killings in Balochistan after a brief hiatus.
The southwestern mineral-rich province has been troubled for long by a low-key separatist insurgency waged by ethnic Baloch militant groups.
“It is unfortunate that the authorities have not been able to prevent sectarian and ethnic violence in Balochistan despite repeated demands. At best, the violence has ebbed for a few weeks before returning to claim more lives,” the HRCP statement said.
The statement said in the latest bout of targeted attacks, the long suffering Hazara community has been targeted in Quetta. The victims included two brothers who were shot and killed outside the passport office in Quetta on Monday.
This was not the first time that Hazara citizens queuing up at the passport office had been mowed down. The persistent and targeted violence against the Hazaras is among the key reasons why members of this community try and flee the country, the HRCP said.
“HRCP wishes to remind the authorities of their responsibility to protect the lives of all citizens and to overcome the pervasive lawlessness in Balochistan.
“We agree with the Balochistan chief minister’s recent assessment that sectarianism is impeding development in the province. However, it would take more than pledges and warnings of stern action to stop those indulging in killings in the name of sectarian and ethnic differences.
“It is time that meaningful action was taken to bring to justice not just the individuals involved in such killings, but also all the elements involved with arming, assisting and facilitating in any way those actually pulling the trigger.
“HRCP also calls upon civil society, and religious and political parties and leaders to play their role in extricating the province from the throes of violence, not least by condemning without reservation all instances of sectarian- and ethnicity-based violence,” the statement said.