Published On: Tue, Oct 4th, 2011

A Victim of Being Hazara and Shia in Pakistan

Hazaras protesting against ethnic cleansing in front of Pakistan Embassy London

After 9/11, international forces led by American forces attacked on Taliban in Afghanistan and it took a month to oust Taliban along with Al-Qaida and other Islamic militant groups from Kabul who had been ruling Afghanistan since September 1996. It was Pakistani intelligence agencies, which played pivotal role in the making of Mojahidin (holy warriors) and other Islamic militant groups to use them in Afghanistan against Soviet troops, who invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Soviet presence in Afghanistan helped the intelligence agencies to establish numerous religious schools (Madrasa) along with training centres throughout Pakistan so as to use Mojahidin against Soviet invasion. Knowing the significance of Mujahidin and the strategic area, General Ziaulhaq the then president of Pakistan, in the pretext of Afghanistan war used the religion and religious militants in Kashmir to pressurize India to come to the negotiating table to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Later on, General Zia also promoted extreme religious thinking and religious militant groups within the country especially in Balochistan, Sindh and Khaber Pakhtoonkhow provinces to counter the nationalist political parties.

General Zia, having known the weakness of the west over strategic position of Afghanistan, used the nuclear issue and extreme religious militancy cards for his own political vision. West despite knowing Zia’s political motives couldn’t take any strict action against him, as they were obsessed with Soviet presence in Afghanistan and wanted Zai to get the Soviet out of Afghanistan by all means.

Getting Soviet out of Afghanistan by force the intelligence agencies got enormous confidence and encouragement to rely on the performance of the religious militants for their local and regional political ends. The success story of Afghan war brought religious militant groups closer to the intelligence agencies.

Over the time period it became impossible for the intelligence agencies in Pakistan to detach themselves from the religious militant groups, as they help them in accomplishing regional political purposes.

The intelligence agencies know well that if the Kashmir and Afghanistan issues are resolved peacefully along with the nationalist issues within the country, then the covert activities of the agencies will remain a question mark in the political affairs of Pakistan.

That’s why they never wish the civil Pakistani government to get close to the Indian government to resolve the political issues and trying their best to exploit natural resources of the small provinces with its military might and engage civilian into political and sectarian violence in order to prolong its rule over the country.

Quetta city is situated in the South-West of Pakistan and is the capital city of Balochistan, which is around 125 km away from the border of Afghanistan and nearly 220 km away from Kandahar city. In November 2001, when Taliban were defeated by the international forces, they entered into Pakistan as most Taliban were and are believed to be Pakistani nationals, who received their religious education in the religious schools of the country.

It is worth mentioning that Hazara constitutes 19% of Afghanistan population and remained subjected to the stark suppression of Taliban and Al-Qaida during the reign of Taliban. Around 10,000 Hazaras were reported to have been killed by Taliban just because of being Shai and Hazara in Afghanistan.

Even the two famous giant Bhudhas, built in 1st and 2nd A.D in the heart of Bamiyan city, where Hazaras live in, were also destroyed by the ruthless Taliban. During the attack on Taliban in October 2001, Hazaras fully supported the international force to get Taliban out of Afghanistan. When Taliban couldn’t fight international force in Afghanistan, they moved back to Pakistan where they belonged.

It’s to be mentioned that around 700 thousand Hazaras live in Quetta city, most of them migrated from Afghanistan in 1890, when the then king Mir Abdul Rehman attacked on Hazaras, which resulted in repression and occupation of Hazaras lands.

To cut in short, due to suppression and cruelty of the king Mir Abdul Rehman, Hazaras left their homeland and started migrating to different countries around Afghanistan. Hazaras, who lived in the north of Afghanistan, moved to the Central Asia, those who lived in the west moved to Iran and those lived in the south of Afghanistan moved to the present Pakistan, the then Indian subcontinent during British Raj.

It’s now been nearly ten years; the Hazara community dwelling in Quetta City, Pakistan has been under heinous ethnic cleaning by extremist religious groups such as Taliban and Lashkar-i-Jangvi link with Al-Qaida. Over 500 Hazaras are reported to have been killed and 2500 injured, just for being a Shai and Hazara.

Nearly every day, Taliban and Lashkar-i-Jangvi militants groups kill Hazaras, wherever they come across in Quetta city. High officials in the present government seem reluctant to take bold action against the terrorists and talk openly. The Governor of Balochistan, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, quoted his Inspector General of Police (IGP) saying, “whenever police arrested any criminal, he received calls from high ups for his release” [1].

Meanwhile, Home Minister Mir Zafarullah Zehri, on a point of order, informed the assembly that “he had clues about those involved in the target killings but he was helpless. He said if the elected representatives were given responsibilities, the situation might improve” [2] are enough to prove the bitter reality about the reach of the terrorist organizations into the highest ranks of Pakistani Government. Both the governor and the home minister publically announce that the government is helpless and doesn’t have authority to get control on the terrorists and to put an end of the terrorist activities going against the Hazara Community.

Now the questions arise that if the present Government doesn’t have authority then who does? Who is ruling behind the scene in Pakistan? Whose hands are involved in ethnic cleansing of Hazaras in Quetta city? The two high profile terrorists “Usman Saifullah Kurd and Shafeeq Rind belonging to anti-Shia Lashkar-i-Jhangvi organization mysteriously escaped from a very well-organized jail of Anti-Terrorist Force in Quetta Cantonment where no one can enter without a pass, implying that their escape was facilitated by the security agencies” [3].

Hazara community in Quetta are of the opinion that the law enforcement agencies in general the government in particular are not taking sectarian killings and crimes against the community seriously. No effort has ever been made by the government to conduct an impartial inquiry into matter.

Despite being heavy presence of the police and Frontier corps check posts in and around the Quetta city, the terrorist walk freely in the city and kill any Hazara, wherever they find in the city even in most cases just 50 meters away from the security check posts.

The Hazaras believe that the government is directly or indirectly involved in the killing of Hazaras [4] as to provide enough training to Taliban militants and get them ready to go back to Afghanistan after 2014 when the international force would come out of Afghanistan. In Quetta city, Hazaras are easy to target because of their Mongoloid features and physical attributes.

The rule of democracy in Pakistan like country means a number game, in order to make the headlines the number needs to be well otherwise; it is difficult to get heard in the national press of the country. As regard Hazaras, they live in Quetta city, a small minority, thousands miles away from Islamabad and above all they are not political or financial strength of the country, otherwise, the cry of the Hazaras could have been heard by the higher ups of the state or the chief justice of the supreme court, who ordered sue motto action against the violence of Karachi.

“Hazara killings do not make headlines because Balochistan is sandwiched between the big story of Baloch nationalism and the alleged Taliban presence in Balochistan”, says a Baloch journalist Malik Siraj Akbar [5]. Nobody seems ready in Pakistan to listen to the hue and cry of the innocent Hazaras, who have been left alone on the mercy of the cruel underground Talian and Lashkar-i-Janghvi outfits who have been ruthlessly killing the doctors, engineers, police officers, government officers, politicians, women and children of Hazaras to get their training complete and higher up happy.

Today, Quetta city presents the scene of an old cowboy movies, where the blood of Hazaras does not make the authorities realize of Hazara being a human. On August 31st 2011, the whole Muslims were celebrating Eid while Hazaras were collecting their dead bodies and removing their injured to the hospital. Taliban’s 50kg powerful suicidal explosion killed 13 innocent Hazaras on Gulistan Road, who were coming out of the Eidgah after Eid prayer.

None of the political and military leaders of the country condemned the gruesome killings of Hazara. No sue motto action was announced by the Supreme Court to stop the killing of Hazaras in Quetta city. Even print media in Pakistan has turned its eye blind to highlight the target killings of Hazaras. Few days back on September 13th 2011, Hazara Democratic Party staged a protest against the target killings of Hazaras in Islamabad in front of the parliament [6], which was intentionally overlooked by the electronic and print media of Pakistan.

Few days before, on 20th of September 2011, 26 Hazara Shi’a pilgrims on their way to Iran were lined up in front of their bus and shot dead in Mastung, around 30 kilometre away from Quetta City. Another three people were killed as they tried to bring victims of this attack to a hospital in Quetta, the provincial capital.

Lashkar-e Jhangvi, an anti-Shi’a extremist group, claimed responsibility for the killings. The killing of 29 Shi’a Muslims in Pakistan’s Balochistan province highlights the failure of Pakistani authorities to address sectarian violence across the country [7]. Today, the Hazaras are left alone to die as they are not the political or economic strength of Pakistan.  

The writer is an ESOL Teacher  in Hull and can be contacted at toyounasat@yahoo.co.uk

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Two Hazara passengers have been target-killed on Sariab Road Quetta.