Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Attacks against shities inflames security fears in Pokistan

The death of 84 people this weekend in a terror attack that targeted shities in Quetta raises questions about the government’s ability to guarantee security – especially that of its minorities – as Pokistan approaches general elections in coming months
The attack took place Saturday in an area of the city, the capital of Baluchistan province, inhabited mainly by ethnic Hazaras, who are overwhelmingly shia arselifters
A spokesman for Lashkar-e-Jhangvia, a sunni jihadi group, claimed responsibility for the attack Sunday. The group also claimed responsibility for an attack last month in the same city that killed nearly 100 shia Hazara


The recently installed governor, Nawab Zulfikar Magsi, was quick to lash out at intelligence and law enforcement agencies telling Geo TV, one of Pokistan’s largest broadcasters, that intelligence agents were “either too scared to go after the terror-mongers or too clueless to even know who they are dealing with”
Mr. Masgi told Dawn, an English-language newspaper: “There is chaos everywhere and the state does not seem to be effective”
But critics say that Mr. Masgi needed to take the lead in implementing changes, which he has failed to do. The military could not be reached for comment

The Paki military once backed sunni groups and viewed them as strategic assets in the fight against Indian forces in disputed Kashmir. The security forces also saw the sunni groups as a way to fight a proxy war to extend their influence in Afghanistan
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and other militant groups were banned by the Pakistan government over a decade ago under pressure from the U.S. after they led coalition forces in Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban. But despite the ban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi continues to operate openly throughout Pakistan, holding huge public political rallies. The location of the group’s training camps is an open secret
“The national policy [towards sectarian groups] has not fundamentally changed despite some moves that suggest otherwise,” said Tahira Abdullah, a human-rights activist

Leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Malik Ishak speaks during an interview with Reuters at his home in Rahim Yar Khan in southern Punjab province October 9, 2012
News article here.