In a startling revelation, Pakistan’s Interim Interior Minister, Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti, has accused India’s foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), of involvement in the recent wave of terror attacks in Balochistan. The minister made these claims during a press conference in Quetta, where he asserted that those behind the attacks, regardless of their affiliations, share common origins and are orchestrated from a single source – RAW. However, no concrete evidence was provided to support these allegations.
This revelation comes in the aftermath of a horrific suicide blast that targeted a 12th Rabiul Awwal procession in Balochistan’s Mastung, resulting in the tragic loss of 55 lives, including a police officer. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, with even the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) denying involvement.
The caretaker government of Balochistan has declared three days of mourning for the victims of this devastating attack. Simultaneously, another bomb attack occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu, targeting a police station’s mosque, leaving five dead and twelve injured.
Minister Bugti, in his press conference, vowed to pursue terrorists relentlessly, signaling a shift away from appeasement policies that have been criticized in the past. He emphasized that the state is aware of the terrorists’ operational bases and safe havens, pledging to take decisive action against them.
Bugti further highlighted the complexity of identifying the culprits behind such attacks, as different organizations often claim responsibility for the same incident. He stressed that the state would be the sole arbiter of violence, regardless of the banner under which it is conducted.
Recalling a previous attack that targeted Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah, Bugti mentioned that the mastermind behind that attack had been eliminated.
The minister also expressed his frustration with the historical inconsistency in Pakistan’s counterterrorism approach, where the state would switch from a position of strength to an appeasement policy when dealing with terrorist elements.
When questioned about the suspension of district commissioners and superintendents of police, Bugti deferred to the provincial Information Minister Jan Achakzai, promising a thorough investigation into the matter.
Furthermore, Bugti emphasized the significance of the Mastung attack, as it was the first of its kind regarding the 12th Rabiul Awwal occasion in Balochistan. He noted that past incidents had often targeted the Hazara community and Muharram processions.
In response to questions about the abducted footballers from Dera Bugti district earlier this month, Bugti confirmed that four of them had returned, expressing optimism about the recovery of the remaining two.
Meanwhile, the Balochistan Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) registered an FIR for the Mastung attack, charging an unidentified attacker with murder and terrorism offenses. The investigation into the incident is ongoing, with no arrests made thus far.
As Balochistan mourns its tragic losses, interim Information Minister Jan Achakzai expressed the region’s collective sorrow and praised the efforts of the administration and security institutions in restoring normalcy. He reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to combat terrorism and ensure the safety of its citizens.
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani visited the Civil Hospital to inquire about the condition of the injured from the Mastung blast. He called for significant compensation packages for the martyrs and the injured, pledging that the government would not allow the peace process to be undermined.
چئیرمین سینیٹ محمد صادق سنجرانی نے مستونگ دھماکے کےزخمیوں کی عیادت کیلئے سول اسپتال کا دورہ کیا-سنیٹر زنصیب اللہ بازئی، پرنس عمر احمدزئی اور رخسانہ زبیری بھی چئیرمین سینیٹ کے ہمراہ تھے-
انہوں نے سول اسپتال میں مستونگ دھماکے کے زخمیوں کی عیادت کی-اس موقع پر چئیرمین سینیٹ نے… pic.twitter.com/mcLEhGn5bv
— Office of the Chairman Senate, Pakistan (@OfficeSenate) September 30, 2023
Internationally, the United Nations condemned the terrorist attacks, emphasizing the need to bring the perpetrators to justice. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the attacks as abhorrent and targeting people during peaceful religious ceremonies. The UN Security Council reaffirmed the seriousness of terrorism as a threat to international peace and security.
I condemn the terrorist attacks that took place in Pakistan this Friday.
It is abhorrent that these attacks targeted people during peaceful, religious ceremonies.
Those responsible must be held to account.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 29, 2023
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, expressed solidarity with Pakistan and condemned the attacks during a telephone call with Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar.
Pakistan has recently witnessed a surge in terror incidents, particularly in KP and Balochistan, following the end of a ceasefire between the government and the TTP. The Mastung attack, along with other recent incidents, underscores the ongoing challenges faced by Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.
Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti’s allegations of RAW’s involvement in recent Balochistan terror attacks have raised significant concerns. The aftermath of the Mastung attack has once again highlighted the urgent need for a robust and coordinated counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan.