Quetta, Feb. 17 (Reuters): The Pakistan government, which is gearing up for elections expected within months, came under fire today for failing to improve security after a sectarian bombing in Quetta killed 81 people.
The country’s leaders have done little to contain hardline Sunni groups that have stepped up a campaign of bombings and assassinations of minority Shias.
On Saturday, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), seen as the most ruthless Sunni sectarian group, claimed responsibility for the attack in Quetta, which deepened suspicions among Shias that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were turning a blind eye to the bloodshed or even supporting extremists.
Critics say Pakistan’s intelligence agencies previously supported groups like LeJ to fight against Indian forces in Kashmir and failed subsequently to control them.
“The terrorist attack on the Hazara Shia community in Quetta is a failure of the intelligence and security forces,” Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, governor of Baluchistan province, said while touring a hospital.
Leaders of the ethnic Shia Hazara community called on the government to take decisive action, and Pakistanis warned that sectarian violence was spiralling out of control.
“The government is responsible for terrorist attacks and killings in the Hazara community because its security forces have not conducted operations against extremist groups,” said Aziz Hazara, vice-president of the Hazara Democratic Party.
“We are giving the government 48 hours to arrest the culprits involved in the killing of our people and after that we will launch strong protests,” he said.