Hundreds gathered at the Toronto City Hall on January 13 to protest against the senseless murders of Shias and other minorities in Pakistan. Pakistan Development Fund, a Toronto-based student group, organised the event in which religious and other groups also participated.hundreds of Hazaras have died in bomb blasts and targeted killings.
Standing in the rain outside of Toronto’s iconic City Hall, the protesters raised slogans against the unabated violence against minorities in Pakistan. The chants of “We want justice, stop Shia killings” resonated in Toronto’s downtown core, which is otherwise a quiet place on a Sunday afternoon.
Speaking at the event, leaders of the Hazara community in Toronto warned that the protest in Toronto and other large cities in North America and Europe should alert Pakistan’s civil and defence establishment to the reality that what goes around in Pakistan is not lost on the world, especially the Pakistanis living abroad. Furthermore, while it may be true that misguided patriotism may have made Pakistanis ignore violence and injustice in Pakistan in the past, this is no longer the case.
Others warned that Pakistanis protesting against injustices in Pakistan is indicative of the fact that Pakistan now was part of the group of rogue states whose own citizens have to alert the rest of the world to the injustices being committed in their homelands. Such acts suggest the lack of confidence in the State and its agencies to establish the rule of law in Pakistan, one protester observed in Toronto.
Ayyaz Mallick, a student at Toronto’s York University, is one such Pakistani who believes that the state and its institutions do not represent the Pakistan he has envisioned. A Sunni Muslim himself, Ayyaz organised the rally with other university students in Toronto to show solidarity with Shia Hazaras who have been sitting on Quetta’s Alamdar Road with the coffins of 86 young men who died in two bomb attacks at a popular billiard club, which was mostly frequented by the Hazara youth.
Speaking at the rally in Toronto, Ayyaz asked if the State was indeed even concerned about representing the interests of the marginalised communities in Pakistan. He urged Pakistanis back home and in diaspora to be on the streets to register their protest against targeted killings of minorities in Pakistan and ethnic cleansing of Shia Hazaras in Quetta.
While the Hazaras are busy burying their dead in Quetta’s Bahisht-e-Zahra cemetery, where hundreds of other victims of violence are also buried, many in Pakistan wonder why their elected governments are so reluctant to govern.