Ethnic murders

Death toll among police officials in North Waziristan is already in double figures just few weeks into new year.

New reports of unexplained murders of ‘non-locals’ in North Waziristan are causing extreme concern about the ability of local law enforcers to make any kind of dent in crime. Less than a month after six barbers hailing from Punjab were murdered in Mir Ali tehsil, the bodies of five more low-wage workers, including three non-locals, have been found in the same area. The recent murders, however, are even more egregious because it appears at least a few of the victims were not even working in the area, and were just passing through to deliver vegetables to another town. This means they almost certainly could not have had any local enmity or even been accused of ‘stealing jobs’ from locals, which is also a major rationale provided by nationalist and separatist militant groups behind ethnic violence and outright terrorism in Balochistan and other places.

That is not to say that law enforcers are incompetent — far from it. The death toll among police officials in the region is already in double figures just a few weeks into the new year. The upsurge in terrorism over the past several months has severely handicapped police and other security apparatus around the country. We can’t expect the police to run professional investigations when they are struggling to keep themselves alive. The fault lies with the state, which cannot even provide appropriate security to security officials. While the families of the civilian victims protest over the senseless killings of their loved ones, the families of security officials must quietly wonder what good has come of their loved ones’ sacrifices, since violent crime and terrorism continue to rise, and evidence increases that the country is genuinely backsliding to a place where we were told we would never go back. The state’s increasing failure to provide meaning to the lives of those who gave up everything for it is arguably the greatest betrayal of those martyrs.

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