Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University is the only women university in Quetta City which was established in March 2004. Around 3000 female students are currently studying at the university. Like every other day, students after taking the last class put their pens, notebooks and books in their bags, put smile on their faces, turned their mobiles on to either receive calls or ring to their parents to let them know about their departure from the university, cheering, talking and waving hands to say the last bye of the day to each other and accelerated to the main gate to be the first to get on the bus to go home at earliest possible.
The bus which was supposed to take Hazara female students to Alamdar Road Quetta — was going on different routes on Saturday and Hazara students got on the different bus left the university few minutes before the blast. Around 3pm local time the bus was about to move forward but unfortunately met with a big bang — a deafening sound could be heard miles away.
Upon hearing the powerful sound, people from the nearby rushed to the scene but couldn’t believe on their eyes to find innocent young female bodies cut into pieces lying on the ground. It is the first ever an organized attack on the females in the recent history of Balochistan by any perpetrators. Soon after the blast, the bus caught fire which further added numbers to the death toll. Initially, 10 female students were reported to have been killed. The dead bodies including the injured were removed to Bolan Medical Hospital which lies very close to the women university. Security personnel along with the high officials rushed to the hospital where another suicide bomber detonates himself to not only multiply the numbers of the dead bodies but also to target the high officials. The indiscriminate firings followed soon after the blast from the different directions to the security personnel, which further resulted in the death of at least 25 people including 14 female students of the women university along with Deputy Commissioner Quetta plus four security personnel and four nurses.
Eye witnesses reported that the firing was coming from the inside and the roof of the hospital to different directions. Dr. Abu Bakar Baloch while talking to BBC Urdu said that he saw the attackers who were carrying weapons and one of them was wearing a bomb-jacket who was asking Sunnis to go out of the building but wouldn’t allow Shias to go out of the hospital.
While talking to Press Conference, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said a subsequent siege ended after security forces stormed the building and further added that the security forces freed 35 people trapped inside the building, killed four of the attackers and arrested another.
This is the first major terrorist incident since the new provincial government took office last week.
Soon after the horrific incident, clichéd statements followed from the big wigs and vowed to deal the terrorists with iron hands.
Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ) as usual claimed the responsibility but this time, the representative of LeJ didn’t ring to the (News Network International) NNI office in Quetta but rang to BBC Urdu office Quetta from “unknown destination”. While talking to BBC Urdu LeJ spokesman said the attack was a revenge for an earlier raid took place on 6th of June 2013 by security forces against the group in Kharotabad Quetta in which five persons including a woman were killed.
Earlier that day, Ziarat Residency, 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Quetta City the last home of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also blown away by the separatists — Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) — claimed responsibility of the rocket attacks in Ziarat. The separatists removed the Pakistan flag and raised the BLA flag in its place.
Conspiracy theorists believe that Saturday’s rocket attacks on Ziarath Residency and later on the bomb blasts in the women university and the hospital in Quetta were very simple message to Balochistan government especially and federal government to put them on the same page in dealing with missing persons, bullet-riddled bodies and Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killers issues.
On 9th of June 2013 — just few hours before of his oath taking ceremony as Chief Minister of Balochistan — five bullet-riddled bodies were recovered from different parts of Balochistan, which was very loud message for Dr. Malik Baloch to stay away from the missing persons, bullet-riddled bodies and Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killers issues.
Currently, the establishment is said to have never been reported in expressing strong intentions to get engaged in any sort of the formal dialogues with Taliban and separatist groups especially in Balochistan so all possible efforts will be materialized to get both governments on one common language in line with the religious and separatist’s militancy in Pakistan.
Saturday’s incidents in Balochistan are believed to be the first test-case for both “so-called” elected governments to understand a very clear but very thin-line of the ruling elite’s internal and external policies. Many believe that if they get through this exam successfully, they can easily complete their legal terms like Zardari and Raisani otherwise no authority can stop the left right march to Islamabad.
The article was originally published on The Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper on 17th of June 2013.