A Pakistani Senate panel Saturday sought a report from the interior ministry on the action taken against terrorists and banned outfits involved in the killing of Hazaras, a day after a suicide blast targeting the minority Shia community killed 21 people in restive Balochistan province.
A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior took serious notice of the two deadly terror attacks in Balochistan on Friday.
In the first attack, a suicide bomber blew himself in the Hazarganj fruits and vegetable market in provincial capital Quetta killing around 21 people and injuring 60 others, mostly Hazaras.
Those killed included 10 members of the Hazara Shia community, two children and security personnel.
In the second attack in the evening in Chaman city, two civilians were killed and 10 others injured when militants planted an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on a motorcycle parked on Mall Road. The blast occurred when a Frontier Corps (FC) vehicle carrying troops was passing through.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan later claimed responsibility for the Hazarganj blast. It said the blast was carried out in collaboration with the banned Lashkar-e-Jhagvi outfit but there was no confirmation from the latter.
The LeJ is a Sunni militant group, which has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks against the Shia community in Pakistan, including the 2013 blasts in Quetta that killed over 200 Hazara Shias.
The Senate panel also sought a report about the release of activists of the banned outfits in the near past in Balochistan.
Senator Rehman Malik, who heads the committee, said the involvement of the “hostile neighbour and other external forces” could not be ruled out as such blasts appeared to be a conspiracy to incite sectarian clashes and destabilise Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Hazara community members are continuing a sit-on the main Western Bypass road in Quetta to protest against what they term as the persistent failure of law enforcement agencies to provide them security.
The sit-in started soon after the suicide blast ripped through the Hazarganj market early Friday morning. Women and children are among those who have been staging the sit-in.
The protesters demand that the government implements an effective security plan and ensure protection of the Hazara community.
Hazaras make up a significant minority group in Pakistan and most of them live in Quetta.
Qadir Nayil, a Hazara leader, asked the government to ensure better protection.
“Once again our people were the target and once again we will have to bury our dear ones,” he said.
There have been similar terror attacks in the Hazarganj area of Quetta in the past. The market serves as a wholesale market for fruits and vegetables.
Nearly half-a-million Hazaras have settled in Balochistan, many of them after fleeing war-torn Afghanistan.
The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) last year stated that 509 members of the Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta from January 2012 to December 2017.
According to the NCHR, targeted killings, suicide attacks and bomb blasts have inflicted harm to daily life, education, and business activities of ethnic Hazara community members in Balochistan’s largest city Quetta.
Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.