Two separate incidents in Balochistan on Friday, both involving assailants firing on vehicles, and both involving multiple killings, illustrate the types of violence afflicting the province, quite apart from the disappearances said to have been engineered by the agencies. These are the deaths of five people in Quetta, members of the Hazara community, and of another three, employees of a UN agency, in Mastung. No group has claimed responsibility for either, and though there is no apparent link between the two incidents, the modus operandi was the same, with motorcyclists carrying guns spraying the vehicles carrying the victims. The Quetta incident, in which seven were wounded, apart from those who died, has been ascribed to the sectarian violence that has afflicted the city, with the distinctive Hazara community also belonging to the minority sect, prompting Balochistan Shia Conference President Ashraf Zaidi to address a press conference. A different motive seemed to be at work for the Mastung killings, where FAO employees were targeted. This would not be the first targeting of UN employees.

However, it should be clear to all that the two incidents reflect badly on the police, and thus on the government, whose ability to ensure a peaceable life for the citizenry has long been rendered doubtful. The federal government cannot escape blame, and not because it has been formed by the same party as rules Balochistan. It is because it has done nothing about the interference in the province, alleged to be by India. This interference is reflected not just in the proximity of Indian consulates across the Durand Line, but also the fact that modus operandi in both crimes was the same.

Therefore, if the incidents are investigated seriously, not only must the Indian factor be investigated thoroughly, but the federal government should enlist the USA, India’s close friend and benefactor, that it must act to rein in India. The PPP governments in both Islamabad and Quetta should realize that they have to improve their performance. Irrespective of any political needs, the culprits must be punished. So far, they have escaped identification, leave alone apprehension, with punishment a far cry. The government should also realize that the sense of deprivation the Baloch have, and which is exploited by foreign powers to create mayhem like Wednesday’s, is not a facile matter needing just apologies or Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan packages to sort out. It has to produce results and remove that sense of deprivation.