The historical 121-year old Quaid-e-Azam Residency in Ziarat, Balochistan was burnt down after a terrorist attack carried out by the foreign-backed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) in the early hours of 15 June 2013. A local policeman, Bijjar Baloch, who was trying to protect the Residency was also martyred in the terrorist attack. After the attack, the building caught fire and was severely damaged and only the stone structure remains intact. The rest of the building, including its wooden structure and furniture, has been largely burnt down in the ensuing fire.
After the attack, thousands of local residents of Ziarat carried out a protest and chanted slogans against the BLA and an atmosphere of mourning pervaded Ziarat.
The Residency, where the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, spent the last days of his life, was constructed by the British in 1891-92 at a cost of Rs. 39,012. In 1975, the Government of Pakistan declared it a National Monument and, in 1978, it was officially named as the "Quaid-e-Azam Residency". Located at an altitude of 7,200 ft., the Residency lies in the midst of the world's second largest juniper forest, which was recently added to UNESCO's list of the world's protected biosphere reserves. Made of stone and wood, it was originally meant to be a sanatorium and was later converted into the summer residence of the Political Agent and, later, that of the Governor-General.
The Residency had been damaged and renovated twice before. Once in the 1990s, due to a fire caused by an electrical short circuit and, later, due to the 2008 earthquake. After the earthquake, the Pakistan Army volunteered to repair and renovate the Residency using its own funds, which it did at a cost of Rs. 26 million. The renovation and restoration work was carried out by the Pakistan Army's Corps of Engineers led by Brig. Tariq Mehmood. The Pakistan Army also established 25 schools and 6 basic health units in the earthquake hit areas of Ziarat. The 600,000 strong Pakistan Army had donated their one-day salary for the earthquake victims of Ziarat and the repairing and renovation work of the Residency was also carried out using these funds.
According to senior journalist Ejaz Haider, BLA terrorists from Harnai/Shahrag carried out the attack. They chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and left behind paper flyers containing BLA propaganda. Also, according to the initial report of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan presented to Pakistan's National Assembly on 15 June 2013, the attackers removed the Pakistan flag and replaced it with the BLA flag.
The attack has been carried out by BLA terrorists on one of the most prominent symbols of Pakistan in Balochistan. It is an attack on Pakistan and all Pakistanis. It is a brazen assault on Pakistan's history, heritage and ideology. It should be a wake-up call to those supporting the appeasement of these BLA terrorists. There should be no appeasement of terrorists who are hell-bent on damaging Pakistan. Both the Provincial and Federal authorities need to take a sterner stance against BLA and other terrorist organizations in Balochistan.
This attack should also been seen as an attempt to undermine the newly-elected provincial government of Balochistan led by Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, which includes nationalist parties, including the National Party and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party. Also, a major Baloch nationalist party, namely the Balochistan National Party (Mengal) led by Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal, took part in the 2013 General Elections. The participation of nationalist parties in Pakistan's General Eletions indicates their rejection of the separatist and extremist agenda of the BLA and this attack by the BLA could be an attempt to undermine the progress made in bringing Balochistan's nationalist parties and nationalist politicians into the mainstream of Pakistani politics.
It is is imperative that both the Provincial Government of Balochistan and the Federal Government of Pakistan carry out a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators of this crime to swift and exemplary justice. An inquiry also needs to be carried out against the authorities responsible for the protection of the Residency and those officials found negligent or wanting in their duties should be punished.
The Residency must also be restored to its original architectural splendour, although the loss to the original wooden structure and furniture is irreparable. The blueprints are there:
Lastly, if the BLA terrorists and their foreign sponsors think that this attack will demoralize or weaken the resolve of the Pakistani nation, they are mistaken. Such attacks only strengthen the determination of 180 million Pakistanis to protect their motherland at all and any cost. This attack has rekindled the flame of patriotism all across Pakistan, including Balochistan. The BLA and their kind will be defeated and Pakistan will outlive its attackers.