The suicide bomber who killed 72 people in Balochistan killed a generation of lawyers who were seeking justice in this vast region which is located in south western Pakistan. The region is also plagued by insurgency movements and harsh military repression.
The attack targeted lawyers in Quetta, and a faction of the Taliban and ISIS terrorists claimed responsibility for it. A bomb was detonated in a hospital in Quetta that a large number of lawyers had travelled to after the president of the Balochistan Bar Association Bilal Anwar Kasi was assassinated. Many lawyers were killed in the attack. The former secretary of the Balochistan Bar Association told AFP “We have lost the whole leadership,” and that the loss is a hole “that cannot be filled”.
A large number of armed sectarian and separatist terrorist groups regularly carry out acts of violence in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest region. The authorities in the region are considered corrupt and the army is accused of committing widespread abuses there. Foreign media is effectively barred from the region and local journalists work in dangerous conditions. According to Amnesty International, twelve journalists have been killed since 2008 (this number excludes those journalists that were killed on Monday).
Chinese investment is pouring into the region and aims to establish a link between western China and the Arabian Sea. This has led to an increase in pressure because this project gives the army a growing stake in security and is a target for separatists. It is in these circumstances that lawyers play an important role in exposing abuses and violations. Lawyers are constantly the targets of assassination attempts and other attacks.