Plight of the Hazara Community in Balochistan

Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan, where people are accustomed to taking leisurely walks on the main boulevard, shopping and gazing at the beauty of the city. Things are now under control; the city is back to normal life. The threat in the air has been mitigated, the atmosphere is not emphatic but feasible and peaceful to live in. Insurgency has been controlled and insurgents have been thrown out of the province, while some of them have surrendered to be a part of the mainstream of the society. Everything seems perfect; however, some factual data cannot be overlooked. Hazara community is a small community concentrated in different parts of Quetta. A report released by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) last month stated that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in the city, during the last five years. There is still a layer of targeted killings spread across the province. It is pertinent to mention that this killing is not generic in purpose but targeted towards the Hazara community. They can be easily targeted due to their appearances and facial features.

As per chronology of the events, in 2001, 8 Hazara Shias were ambushed and killed in Quetta. In July 2003, a group of Hazara police cadets were targeted by sectarian militants when they were returning home from the Police Training Centre (PTC). Masked armed men on a motorbike targeted them in broad daylight on the busy Saryab Road, killing 12 cadets. A subsequent attack in the same month marked one of the worst sectarian incidents in Pakistan’s history; 58 people were killed and another 200 injured when a suicide bomber attacked a congregation at the Imam Bargah Kalan, during the holy month of Muharram. Similar attacks continued to take place at an alarming rate. In 2009, the targeted killing of Hussain Ali Yousufi, chairman of the secular Hazara Democratic Party, serves as perhaps the most prominent example. The year 2012 also proved to be a ruthless one for this community. The banned militant organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is believed by state authorities to be the militant wing of Sipah-e-Sahaba, has claimed responsibility for most of these attacks.

The overall law and order situation has improved throughout the province, but this sectarian wave is yet to be settled by the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). This type of sectarian terrorism gives breeding grounds to the terrorists. This wave of violence can be considered as another fault line, and at this very moment the Federal Capital cannot afford such grave threats within the country. Consequently, many people started migrating due to the grave threat of targeted killings. Many of them moved to Indonesia and Malaysia. However, the journey for them didn’t end there. From these countries they have approximately paid 6000 US dollars to enter Australia, so they can live peacefully. This, to an extent, also results in distorting the image of Pakistan internationally.

The provincial government is making efforts for the security of the Hazara community, but they need to be implemented more efficiently. The recent visit of the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar to Quetta gave the Hazara community a sense of security, where he met them and assured that this issue will be dealt according to the law.

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