August 9, 2016
Baluchistan is a place that desperately needs lawyers.
Pakistan’s largest province by area, it is the home of a decades-old separatist insurgency, fueled by real grievances over neglect and lack of political representation. It is also increasingly the target of Sunni extremists, who bomb and kill its Shiite minorities. What leaders the province has are widely considered corrupt. Dozens of local journalists have been kidnapped in the past few years. It is nearly impossible for foreign reporters to enter Baluchistan. Lawyers are almost all that give the province a semblance of justice.
About 60 of them were killed in one attack on Monday in Baluchistan’s capital, Quetta. They were packed into an emergency room where the body of a slain colleague lay, riddled with gunshot wounds. A widely circulated video showed lawyers milling about the hospital before an enormous explosion. A Pakistani Taliban offshoot claimed the attack, as did the Islamic State, though analysts say the latter’s claim is dubious.
[Scores of attorneys among the dead in suicide bombing in southwestern Pakistan]
A week earlier, another lawyer was fatally shot. In June, the principal of the province’s law college was, too.
A generation of lawyers has been wiped out in Quetta, and it will leave Baluchistan, in more ways than one, lawless.