“At least 60 people belonging to Hazara community living in Quetta have been killed in targeted attacks, including suicide, remote-controlled and timer device bombings and firing,” says a report published in this newspaper, following a brutal attack on Shia pilgrims belonging to the Hazara community.
Thursday’s bomb attack in the Hazarganji area on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Balochistan was not the first such attack of the year. Not even the first of the month. The Hazara community has been targeted, with great impunity, by outlawed militant organisations on at least six occasions in the current year. While all attacks have claimed precious lives, one of worst attacks against the community came last September, when a bus carrying Hazara passengers was stopped by assailants heavily armed with rocket launchers and Kalashnikovs. They identified Hazara men, took them off the bus and slaughtered them one by one within half a kilometre from a security check post. A similar incident was repeated a few days later in Akhtarabad area of Quetta. Some unconfirmed reports say “over 800 Hazaras have been killed in 24 incidents of mass-murder and 131 targeted ambushes since 2001.”
Murderous motives Responsibility for most of these attacks has been claimed by outlawed group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who have gone as far in their hate preach as declaring the community “wajib-ul-qatl” or deserving of death in their edicts handed out in the Balochistan province. Moreover, the community has been warned that its settlements in Hazara Town and on Alamdar Road will be transformed into graveyards as the war against them continues, according to a column published in this newspaper.
The killings have received mixed reactions and analyses from government officials, politicians and Hazara community leaders. Some blame security forces and intelligence agencies for the killings. Others point the fingers at the sectarian fanatics, Taliban and land mafia while some people even suggest a complex amalgam of all the aforementioned factors.
The Hazaras are being systematically killed because they are anti-TalibanRole of security forces While there is little doubt that all the attacks have been unprovoked and unidirectional without any apprehensions for many years, for Hazaras, the failure of security forces to protect their community remains an unanswered question.
“They have not failed. They have rather no intentions to protect us from the terrorists” explains Sardar Saadat Ali Hazara, a community leader.
Members of the community allege that Hazara killings are designed as a counterinsurgency campaign to divert attention away from the activities of security forces in Balochistan.
“The Hazaras are being systematically killed because they are anti-Taliban and because they do not agree with the policy of strategic depth towards Afghanistan,” says Tahir Khan Hazara, a political activist.
“They consider the Hazaras as pro-Northern Alliance and suspect our patriotism,” says Zaman Dehqanzada of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP).
Dehqanzada alleges that his community’s ‘refusal to fight the Baloch’ has led them to become targets of unabated violence. “We are not going to destroy our relations with our brothers in Balochistan,” he adds.
Meanwhile, a former chief sectary Balochistan revealed on the condition of anonymity that the state policy towards the Hazaras has dramatically changed since 2001. “They are kept away from sensitive administrative posts both in the armed forces and civil bureaucracy as they are considered, albeit falsely, pro-Iran and Pro-Northern Alliance just because they are Farsi-speaking Shias,” the official said.
According to a recent report on the killings of Hazaras, the Frontier Corps (FC) believes that “the Hazaras are receiving funding from Iran to incite Shia revolution in Pakistan,” a statement refuted by the community. How can a small community, they say, surrounded by military cantonment bring about Shia revolution in Pakistan?
We have repeatedly demanded targeted actions against Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who are a handful of terrorists but the government and security forces have given us a cold shoulder.While the FC also blames the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) for the Hazara killings. Hazara leader Sardar Saadat strongly disagrees. “BLA has no issues with the Hazaras. It is, in fact, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi operatives who kill the members of my community and roam freely all around. Everybody knows that they are being trained and protected in Qubo area of Mastung,” he says.