Nine die, 50 hurt in Quetta church attack; Shafiq Mengal heads ISIS in Balochistan

During a Press conference in August at the National Press Club in Washington DC, when Balochistan freedom leader Mehran Marri was asked about the difference between the ISIS and Pakistan’s spy service Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), he quipped, “The difference is just one ‘S’.”

Sunday, after the ISIS attacked the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, leaving nine dead and 50 injured, Marri tweeted,  “ killed as Pakistani suicide bombers hit church in ahead of . Is this ‘s twisted response to President ‘s declaration on ? Or is this desperate Islamabad blackmailing the West?”

This year there has been a spate of ISIS attacks in Balochistan. On May 12, an ISIS suicide bomber carried out an attack on a convoy of the deputy chairman of Pakistan senate, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, killing 25 people. Then on June 8, the ISIS claimed responsibility for killing two Chinese teachers in Quetta. On October 5, an ISIS suicide bomber killed 18 and left 25 wounded at a Sufi shrine in central Balochistan.

Last winter, an ISIS suicide bomber killed at least 52 people and injured more than 100 others at a Sufi shrine in Balochistan.

Sunday’s attack was also owned by the ISIS in Balochistan, according to The Guardian newspaper.

Pakistan authorities, for reasons best known to themselves, are in denial about the presence of ISIS. For instance,  in June, Sarfraz Bugti, provincial home minister and a key henchman of the infamous ISI in Balochistan, completely denied the existence of the ISIS in Balochistan, according to Dunya newspaper. “My personal opinion is that Afghan refugees are [a cause of] deteriorating law and order in Balochistan and some [of them] are becoming a tool in the hands of NDS and RAW,” The Express Tribune cited Bugti as saying. While Bugti was lying through his teeth, he was flanked by the provincial government spokesperson Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar. Likewise, Quetta police chief Razak Cheema has long denied the presence of the ISIS. in the Balochistan capital

Baloch patriots have a different viewpoint. “These are all lies. ISIS, not only does exist but the Islamist terror organization has training camps throughout Balochistan and runs death squads under the patronage of the Pakistan Army,” said the pro-freedom Baluch Sarmachar web site.

According to the Baluch Sarmachar, Abdul Majeed Bizenjo, a former Member of Provincial Assemble (MPA) Balochistan (1988-1990) is leading ISIS in Awaran. His son Jameel Bizenjo handles the day-to-day terror operations of the Islamic State under his father’s supervision. Both, father and son are affiliated with, and take instructions from Shafeeq Mengal who heads the entire ISIS network in Balochistan.

The news portal reported the ISIS has a camp in the mountains of Pelar region run by its regional commander, Farooq, son of Ghafoor Baloch, a veteran of Afghan jihad war.

The ISIS in Balochistan also goes by the name of Lashkar-e-Khorashan led by Iranian Baloch Sunni fanatic Mullah Umar. The group has threatened all minorities to convert to Islam and has targeted the Zikri community, who form at least 30 percent of the entire Baloch population. The group had also threatened to bring down the Hinglaj Mata mandir, one of the holiest Hindu sites in the world, in Balochistan.

According to Lt. Col. (Retired) Lawrence Sellin, a veteran of the Afghan and Iraq wars who has been taking a keen interest in Balochistan, the designated role of the Lashkar-e-Khorasan in southwest Balochistan has been to kill members of the secular independence movement and cleanse Balochistan of Sufi Zikris, Shia Hazaras, Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis, Sikhs or anyone else who refuses to convert to the extreme form of Sunni Islam.

Hyrbyair Marri-- Picture courtesy Picta
London-based former Balochistan minister Hybyair Marri, who allegedly believes Sunni militants can help provide suicide bombers in the Balochistan freedom struggle.

The most ominous aspect of the ISIS presence in Balochistan is it is indirectly supported by Baloch freedom group. London-based former Balochistan provincial minister Hyrbyair Marri, who allegedly heads a splinter faction of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), is said to have a soft corner for the terrorist, Jaishul Adal of Iran, an  ISIS ally. Marri publicly denies any connection with the BLA or Islamists.

Hybyair Marri recently came out in praise of the moderate Islam of Saudi Arabia. According to inside sources, Hyrbyair Marri believes these Islamic militants would come in handy when the Baloch may need suicide bombers against Pakistan army.

Sunday’s attack was one of the worst on Christians in Balochistan. Christians eke out a slave like existence on the lowest rungs of Pakistan society and words such as choora and bhangi (which mean filthy) are used as slurs against them. Pakistani Muslims don’t eat or drink from plates, glasses and cups used by Christians.

In one case, a Christian field worker Aasia Bibi, who used the same bowl to drink water ended up having an argument with her Muslim peer on the scene. She was arrested and condemned to death for blasphemy by a Pakistani court and has been languishing behind bars for more than seven years now.

In September, a Christian student Sharoon Masih, 17, who had refused to convert to Islam, was viciously beaten to death by his Muslim classmates on his fourth day of school. His crime was he had drank water from their water cooler, according to The Daily Wire.

Christian women who form bulk of the country’s sweepers are routinely raped and beaten up and even killed. Christians also form a huge chunk of low-paid female nurses in Pakistan hospitals, where their rape by doctors is an open secret.

Balochistan houses just six percent of Pakistan’s nearly 200 million population but forms more than 43 percent of the land mass and is the energy powerhouse of Pakistan. An insurgency, which the Baloch call liberation war and which started in 2005, is still ongoing has left 35,000 Baloch dead and at least 8,000 victims of enforced disappearance.

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