EDITORIAL: Jaffar Express was on its usual route from Quetta to Peshawar on Thursday morning. When it reached near Chichawatni, a town in Punjab, an explosion ripped through the washroom of a ladies compartment, leaving one woman dead on the spot and seven others wounded, five of them including two small sisters, in a critical condition.
According to initial investigations, the blast was caused by a timed-device. Who could have done this evil deed seemed obvious considering that this train has been frequently targeted by Baloch insurgents, damaging railway tracks to cause derailment and putting bombs aboard it.
A while ago, 16 people were killed and at least 44 others injured as a bomb went off inside the Jaffar Express at Sibbi railway station in Baluchistan. The so-called United Baloch Army (UBA) took responsibility for it. The Baloch National Army (BLA) has claimed credit for the latest atrocity.
BLA has been involved in several attacks on the security forces as well as workers from other provinces, and Chinese working in this country. In 2018, its militants attempted to storm the Chinese Consulate in Karachi; its staff remained safe, but seven Pakistanis guarding the place lost their lives.
The next year, BLA gunmen raided a five-star hotel in Gwadar, where some Chinese nationals were staying. One guard was killed before the intruders were shot dead by security forces.
Yet its leader, Hyrbyair Marri, lives in Britain under asylum despite Pakistan’s protests. In January of last year, UBA and another insurgent outfit, Baloch Republican Army were merged with the BLA. The merger is said to have been engineered by India with the express design to destabilise Pakistan and undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passing through Baluchistan.
There is enough evidence of that country backing Baloch insurgents with arms, money even RAW operatives – one of them caught red-handed by intelligence agencies is in jail – to help them plan attacks. In 2019, the US State Department had declared the BLA a global terrorist organisation. Still, as noted earlier, its chief continues to live safely in the UK.
The way forward, as suggested by leaders of all mainstream political parties in that restive province, is to talk with those that they describe as “angry young Baloch”.
If talks could be held with the TTP which had declared a war on the State and killed more than 80,000 Pakistanis, there should be no hesitation to pursue that course with the ‘angry Baloch’ for the sake of peace and security of this country and its people.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023