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Bloodbath: Chronological Timeline of Balochistan’s Major Terror Incidents

Balochistan, one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the southwestern region of the country is a hotspot for violent activities involving terrorist groups and security personnel

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November 17, 2016: Terrorists have slaughtered more than 30 citizens of the Khuzdar district of Balochistan which has already been struck by violence over linguistic and sectarian differences for over 200 times within the last 15 years in Pakistan. These attacks were probably in retaliation for the murder of Saqib alias Arif, a Tehrik-e-Taliban terrorist by the Sindh Rangers in Hub. This incident occurred the day after the assassination of Arif and hours before the inauguration of the Gwadar port  by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and  Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and some eminent Chinese guests.

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This attack was probably in retaliation for the murder of Saqib alias Arif, a Tehrik-e-Taliban terrorist by the Sindh Rangers in Hub. It was after the assassination of Arif and hours before the inauguration of the Gwadar port  by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and some eminent Chinese guests.

Saqib alias Arif was accused of many terror attacks, such as the trap set up for former Karachi corps commander, Gen Ahsan Saleem’s conveyance , suicide and murder attacks on Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Bilal Sheikh respectively.

Terrorism in this southwestern region of Pakistan is prevalent and has robbed families and individuals of their lives. People from various sects have given up their lives since a long time. These victims do not include the civilians but also many government officials, minorities, judges, police.

The following lists the occurrences of major terrorist incidents in Balochistan, this year:

  • October 24, 2016: Militants stormed a police training centre in Quetta and killed at least 60 cadets.
  • August 8, 2016: Bilal Anwar Kasi , the president of Balochistan Bar Association was shot dead by a gunman. People gathered at the hospital in Quetta after his body was brought in. Later, the hospital was attacked and over 70 to 95 people were killed including a large number of lawyers.
  • June 16, 2016: The Counter Terrorism Department with the assistance of the intelligence agencies apprehended Khaliq Dad, a commander of a forbidden outfit in Quetta. Khaliq, who was captured in Nawakali, is said to be the brains behind many terrorist activities.

At least five supposed terrorists were killed by armed security forces around Quetta on June 14, 2016.

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Sarfraz Bugti, Balochistan’s Home Minister declared the arrest of an Indian navy officer serving his country’s intelligence organization, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) on 24 March 2016.

While making this statement, Bugti revealed that the RAW officer, Kalbhushan Yadav was captured three days prior and was in touch with Baloch separatists and other religious bodies.

  • February 16, 2016: A suicide bombing killed at least 10 people after smashing into a patrolling vehicle of the Frontier Corps in Quetta.
  • January 13, 2016: an explosion near a Quetta polio center killed at least 15 people and left several others injured.

The following is a chronology of some heinous incidents since 2003 up to 2015 that hit Balochistan.

2003:

  • June 8: Around 11 police trainees belonging to the Hazara Shia sect were killed in a sectarian strike at Quetta’s Sariab Road.
  • July 4: Another attack on a Shia mosque killed around 50 people in Quetta.

2004:

  • March 2: A Shia procession was attacked and nearly 45 people were killed.
  • May 3: A car bomb claimed the lives of three Chinese engineers in Gwadar and on August 2, the then Prime Minister of Balochistan, Jam Yousaf escaped an attack on his convoy.
  • December 10: The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) killed at leat 10 people in an explosion in a Quetta market.

2005:

  • March 19: Over 35 were killed at the shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah in Jhal Magsi when a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Shia and Deobandi devotees.

2006:

  • February 5: A Lahore-bound bus from Quetta exploded in Bolan district killing 13 people.
  • March 10: 30 people were killed after a bus triggered a landmine in Dera Bugti.

Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a crossfire between the tribal militants and the government forces in Balochistan. At least 5 soldiers and 30 militants lost their lives too.

  • August 26-31: Bugti’s death caused riots which left scores of people arrested and injured in just five days.

2007:

  • February 17: A suicide bombing in a Quetta court killed 15 people including the judge.
  • July 19: An attack targeted at Chinese workers killed around 26 people at Hub in the Lasbela district.
  • July 27: Raziq Bugti, a spokesperson for the Balochistan government who was a former guerrilla commander was killed in Quetta.

2009:

  • January 26: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi allegedly shot the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party, Hussain Ali Yousafi
  • August 4: Baloch separatists killed 4 policemen and held 21 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of the paramilitary troops and the release of the government’s detainees.
  • October 25: The Punjab-born Balochistan Education Minister and a local PPP loyal, Shafiq Ahmed Khan, was killed in Quetta.
  • November 17: A blast in Quetta seriously wounded the DIG Nizam Shahid Durrani.

2010:

  • April 16: at least 10 were killed in a suicide bombing at a hospital in Quetta.
  • July 14: Habib Jalib, a former senator and nationalist leader of the Balochistan National Party in Quetta was assassinated by unidentified gunmen.
  • August 14: At least 10 people were killed in militant attacks in Balochistan.
  • September 3: An alleged suicide bombing killed 75 in a Shia rally at Quetta’s Meezan Chowk.
  • November 30: The convoy of Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, the then Balochistan governor was attacked in Mungichar but Magsi managed to escape.
  • December 7: An unsuccessful attempt at the assassination of the then Balochistan Chief Minister, Asla Raisani by a suicide bomber killed around two people.

2011:

  • April 26: Four men riding on motorcycles open fired on a bus, then splashed petrol on the bus and set it ablaze, incinerating the people inside the bus.
  • June 16: Unidentified men on a motorcycle shoot the Olympian, Abrar Hussain dead outside his office near Quetta’s Ayub National Stadium.
  • August 31: A bombing outside a mosque in Quetta on Eid-ul-Fitr killed a dozen Shia Muslims.
  • September 7: At least 26 people died in two explosions in Quetta.
  • September 20: At least 26 Shia Muslims were killed when armed militants attacked their bus heading towards Taftan.
  • November 21: BLA attacked a Frontier Corps convoy near Musa Khel and killed at least 14 soldiers.
  • December 29: Two attackers fired on the vehicle of Dr. Syed Baqir Shah a police surgeon in Quetta who was a key witness in the controversial Kharotabad incident. Dr. Shah had performed the autopsies of five foreigners, two of them were women. They were shot by security personnel in Kharotabad on May 2011.
  • December 20: A suicide bombing by BLA killed 13 people in Quetta.

2012:

  • January 12: The Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) assailants ambushed paramilitary troops around Turbat and killed 14 soldiers.
  • June 7: A remote-controlled bomb exploded to kill 15 outside a madrasa in Quetta.
  • June 18: Dozens were killed when a bus transporting Shias was bombed in Quetta.
  • June 28: A suicide attacker killed around 14 people after targeting a bus of Hazara Shias in Quetta.
  • July 6: Around 18 Shia pilgrims were killed while traveling to Iran in Turbat.
  • July 8: A landmine blast in Chaman killed at least 14 people.
  • August 27: Eight people were killed when gunmen attacked two buses in Balochistan on the same day as three Shias were shot down in Quetta.
  • August 30: Zulfiqar Naqvi, a Shia session’s judge was gunned down along with his driver and a police bodyguard at Munir Mengal Road in Quetta.
  • October 12: A bomb explosion near a restaurant on Nishtar Road in Sibi killed a dozen people. Three security personnel died when their vehicle hit a landmine.
  • November 2: Unidentified gunmen open fired at a bus in Khuzdar and killed 18 people.
  • November 6: An eminent Shia leader, Agha Aftab Haider Zafri was shot dead in Quetta. On the same day, four people were shot in different incidents in Quetta out of which three were Shias.

2013:

  • January 10: Two bomb blasts killed at least 105 people on Alamdar Road in Quetta. Many of the casualties were caused when the media and security personnel were arriving at the scene after the first blast. The area bombed was a Shia locality.
  • February 16: At least 92 people were killed in a sectarian suicide attack at a Quetta market targeting the Shias primarily.
  • March 22: A motorcycle-rickshaw exploded in a Dehra Allahyar town market killing at least 10 people.
  • April 16: At least four people were killed in Khuzdar district including the son, nephew and brother of Sanaullah Zehri, the provincial chief of the PML-N and the current Chief Minister of the province.
  • May 11: An attack on the convoy of an election candidate on the polling day in Naseerabad killed at least 15 people.
  • May 12: A suicide attack was attempted on the then Balochistan IGP and current Punjab Police Chief , Mushtaq Sukhera in the high-security zone On Quetta’s Zarghoon Road. Although, he narrowly escaped around seven others lost their lives. Two days before this incident, assailants blew up Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat and attacked a bus of female students from a Quetta medical college.
  • June 15: At least 25 people were killed as a bomb ripped a bus apart, succeeded by a suicide attack and a gun battle at the Bola Medical College Hospital where the injured victims were admitted for treatment. The victims in the bus included the deputy commissioner of Quetta, Mansoor Kakar, 14 students of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University and four nurses. Assistant commissioner Anwar Ali along with two other police officials had suffered bullet wounds.
  • August 18: DIG Fayyaz Sumbal and DSP Shamsur Rehman, were fatally attacked by terrorists in Balochistan’s capital but they managed to dodge death. the then CCPO Quetta Mir Zubair was also accompanying IGP Mushtaq Sukhera.The suicide attacker was actually targeting  funeral being held for a police official in Quetta.  As a result, around 40 were killed.
  • September 18: SP Sariab Basheer Ahmed Barohi survived an attempt on his life after his official vehicle was fired at by anonymous gunmen.

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2014:

  • January 21: A bomb explosion on a bus killed 21 Shia pilgrims.
  • June 8: A bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Iran to Quetta was attacked and at least 24 people were killed.
  • June 14: Handery Masih, a minority member of the Balochistan Assembly was assassinated by his own guard in Quetta
  • June 20: Sakhi Sultan, an environmental judge was gunned down in the Jinnah Town are of Quetta.
  • August 15: At least 13 militants tried to attack two Pakistan Air Force bases in Quetta, Samungli and Khalid, The security officials foiled the attack and a dozen militants were killed.
  • November: An explosion killed one and injured 20 while targeting ATC judge Nazeer Ahmed Langov in Quetta.

2015:

  • April 11: 20 laborers were gunned down in Turbat by militants.
  • May 29: Assailants clad in uniforms of security personnel gunned down 22 bus passengers in Mastung.
  • October 19: A bomb explosion in a bus in Quetta killed 11 and injured 22 people.

– by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker

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In The Name Of The Father: Honour Killing And Blasphemy In South Asia

Is there any lesson for India to learn from the occurrence and fallouts of cases related to Honour Killings and Blasphemy in Pakistan?

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Honor Killing Protest in Pakistan.

By Tania Bhattacharya

Taniya Bhattacharya
Ms. Tania Bhattacharya

There was once a girl from the rural areas of Pakistan, South Asia. At the young age of 16, she was forcibly married off by her parents. Her husband turned out to be an inebriated womanizer. She tried to live with him, producing a son, and tried to put up with his infractions. When it became too much to ignore, she would complain. He then silenced her by using brute force, punches and kicks. Unable to bear the toll her marriage was taking on her mental and physical well-being, she deserted her man and her child, and left the village. Arriving in the metropolis of Lahore, she decided to make it big in the entertainment industry. To her mind, the simplest way to achieve this was to use a pseudonym and social media as the medium of exposure. So she went on the offensive with her frequent uploads which soon went viral; dressing provocatively, gyrating and singing sensuously; recording video messages for Pakistani male celebrities; and even proposing marriage to cricketer turned
politician Imran Khan. People began to notice her. Gradually this woman, once a victim of domestic abuse, evolved into Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian. Employing a ruse as a whistleblower in one instance, she inadvertently exposed a Mufti and created a furore in the wake of the incident. But everyone watching her videos, was not a fan. There was something dark lurking beyond the pale of adulation, that she was finally able to sense and wake up to. Calling an urgent press conference one day, she begged for the media to leave her alone or to provide her with protection. They had had the temerity to fish out her passport details and her birth name and hold it up for the world to see. It was the last time the public saw her speak. Weeks later, on the 15th of July 2016, she was found dead
in the home she had bought for her parents and siblings; strangled to death in her sleep, by her own brother who had grown irate by reading the lecherous comments of her fans and thought that she had brought dishonour to her family.

Only, this is not the script of a film. It is the biography of Pakistani internet celebrity Qandeel Baloch. Now, her life has been immortalized into a television drama named ‘Baaghi’, or ‘Rebel’. Qandeel’s homicidal brother Waseem Azeem, confessed to the crime, saying that his sister’s licentious moves, had brought disrepute to their clan. The shocking incident was condemned by a number of Paki public figures who bear a liberal image among the masses. Two of these were the late human rights activist Ms. Asma Jahangir, and chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Qandeel’s tragedy is not an exception. She joins a long list of victims in Pakistan, who have paid with their lives for either dishonouring filial ties, or for committing Blasphemy, a crime punishable by death. As far as the latter goes, there have been at least two famous cases of women who were accused of blaspheming; Asia Bibi, and more recently, Rimsha Masih.

Asia Bibi, during a private conversation in a fruit orchard, seemingly made certain deprecatory comments about Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Someone – in all probability one of the women participants in the said conversation – then reported her to the authorities. She was arrested for the alleged crime, that had occurred on the 14th of June 2009. Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, carries the death penalty for blasphemy. Merely being reported on the flimsiest instance of supposedly speaking ill about Muhammad, can earn someone the noose in that country.

Also Read: Pakistani Christians Not Feeling Safe After The IS Attack

In order to indict her, the prosecution from its end, had brought forth seven witnesses, two of whom were women; Mafia Bibi, and Asma Bibi. The women claimed that after they refused to drink the water Asia had brought for them – on the grounds that she was a Christian – Asia had proceeded to lampoon Islam’s prophet. As the Pakistani media has pointed out, it is not improbable, that Afia and Asma were in a dispute over potable water with the accused, and may have used the opportunity to get rid of her. In the end, following an infirmed defence, Asia Bibi was sentenced to be hanged. The year was 2010.

Rimsha Maasih, another Christian, was accused of Blasphemy at the mere age of 14. Khalid Jadoon, a Muslim cleric, had complained to law enforcement, that Rimsha had burnt pages from the Holy Quran. Rimsha, who suffers from learning disabilities, was framed by Jadoon, but even after the courts had established this, Jadoon was let off the hook, lightly, with all charges against him being dropped. Rimsha fled to Canada with her family in tow, after she was released from gaol. The year was 2012.

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws are unforgiving of its minorities, who face arraignment and a death sentence upon being convicted.

Honour Killing is by no means peculiar to Pakistan. It is a pan Afro-Asian epidemic, that affects women and girls who are defenceless. Sometimes, powerless men become victims too, if the perpetrators are wealthy, and connected, as India witnessed in the case of Nitish Katara’s murder. In Jordan, the parliament has long been trying to pass laws to counterbalance its record of the honour killing of girls. In the African continent, the practice is rampant, as it is in India, where caste concerns and family dictates tend to govern the lives of couples who wish to turn their relationships into a lifelong commitment.

Also Read: How Honorable is Honor Killing?

However, even if honour killing is not restricted to Pakistan, Blasphemy is the most pronounced there, out of the entire swathe of the Indian sub-continent, which includes Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan. For the committing of blasphemy, the necessary requirement is of a religion that has a founding father, whose words are written in stone. Islam is not the only religion with a founding father. So are Judaism and Christianity. However, blaspheming does not appear to scar societies with a majority Christian or Jewish population. The reason is not these religions, but the watering down of their original ethics at the hands of the European Enlightenment and the Renaissance. Islam on the other hand, did not experience any internal change on the scale of the two, and continues to remain unrepentant of its Blasphemy pogroms.

Nor is this to say, that there are no freethinkers within the Paki establishment and larger society who condemn the Blasphemy Law and are highly critical of it. Prominent humanist the late Salman Taseer, who was a long time beau of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and the father of their son, the author Aatish Taseer, was gunned down outside his home, due to his defence of Asia Bibi, against the court’s verdict. He had been appealing for mercy on Asia’s behalf.

As case after case has revealed, inflicting a prison term or a death sentence on unsuspecting members of Pakistan’s minorities, coupled with instances where the opportunity is used for settling personal scores, have become the hallmark of the implementation of its Blasphemy Law.

Perhaps the most infamous instance of this law being in flagrant violation of basic human rights, is in the case of Mashal Khan. Mashal Khan was a medical student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. He had been a journalist previously and had spend many years working and studying in Russia. Mashal had Leftist leanings, and took great pains to describe himself as a Humanist, above everything else. His twitter and facebook accounts, frequently dropped bombs about how the Pakistani military establishment was responsible for mind control and collateral damage and how its propaganda tactics were causing more harm to its people than good. Mashal has spoken on several occasions, about the persecution of the minorities of his country, with special focus on its Hindus. Time and again, he had advocated that his country’s problems were its own, and that it was a fruitless exercise to pin the blame on
India and its Hindus.

Also Read: Christian Blasphemy Suspect in Pakistan Jumps from Building to Escape Torture

It is not difficult to surmise as to why he was targeted for assassination. On the fateful day of the 13th of April 2017, a large group of students from the Abdul Wali Khan University who were Mashal’s own peers, attacked him furiously inside the campus. He was lynched and shot at, being left mortally wounded. When the ambulance was called, it was already too late. Mashal’s mother later recounted, that when she kissed his hand for the last time before his burial, she found that even the bones of his fingers, were broken.

Just as there are regressive forces within Pakistan that are preventing the nation from thinking along humanist lines by riding on the coattails of its Blasphemy Laws and its ethics over Honour Killing, there is also a handful of right-minded activists, students, and leaders there, who are straining to make themselves heard. One of them had been the late Mashal.

Is there any lesson for India to learn from the occurrence and fallouts of cases related to Honour Killings and Blasphemy in Pakistan?

Let us not emulate. Blasphemy will never be a popular idea among the majority Hindus of this country, since Hinduism does not have a founding father, the religion being a conglomeration of branches of varying lengths and sizes. But freethinkers have faced the heat in recent times in this country. The murder of a Gauri Lankesh, a Narendra Dabholkar, or an M.M. Kalburgi, are proof enough, that sections of Hindus are no longer tolerant of dissent.

This is tragic. Hinduism’s many schools of philosophy, include one that deals exclusively with Atheism. Known as the Charvaka reservoir of critical analysis, this system of beliefs relies entirely on rationalism and empirical evaluation.

One can only hope, that Charvaka’s unhindered existence in the millennia of Hinduism’s history, will
prove a point to Hindus, and prevent them from going Pakistan’s way, in the realm of Blasphemy.

Tania is a freelance writer with a Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies who has a wide range of interests.