Former Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani. — File photo

Pakistan People Party’s Nawab Aslam Raisani came to power at such a time when all the major nationalist political parities had boycotted the elections and the province was struck by separatist insurgencies which had gained new momentum after Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti's assassination in 2006. ??

This was coupled by the military establishment’s change in its operational strategies towards Balochistan — from overt operations to more covert ones. As more and more Baloch nationalist activists began to disappear, more and more religious seminaries surfaced across Balochistan, aimed at converting the otherwise secular Baloch society into a religiously extremist one.

At the same time a huge number of Taliban fighters and hardliners had also taken refuge in Balochistan, particularly on the outskirts of Quetta, after their emirate was overthrown by the US-led NATO forces in assistance with the Northern Alliance. These Taliban fighters had now allied with sectarian outfits such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who are thought to have ties with Pakistan's military establishment. The Taliban-LeJ alliance, who are allegedly given a free hand to operate in Balochistan, is evident from one of their threat letters thrown into Hazara localities in Quetta last year: “Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shia-Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people”.

Meanwhile, the mainstream secular political parties of Balochistan such as Balochistan National Party (BNP) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (Pk-MAP) had boycotted the 2008 general elections which created a huge political vacuum in the province. This paved the way for some political opportunists to win the elections and form the provincial government with almost no opposition. Instead of showing commitment to resolving the core issues of the province, they were more interested in holding ministries and finding ways of embezzlement to further enrich themselves as they knew it was their first and last chance.

The already troubled province descended further into chaos as the number of mutilated dead bodies of Baloch activists increased, demand of a separate Pakhtun province accelerated and attacks on Hazaras quadrupled. Extensive deployment of non-local Pakhtun-dominated Frontier Corps in various parts of Balochistan created a sense of insecurity among the Baloch population which, some activists believe, was aimed at creating a Baloch-Pakhtun divide.

The FC has been generally blamed for being involved in extra-judicial killings of Baloch political activists and running a parallel government in the province. On the contrary, the Pakhtuns felt that they are being marginalized through district quotas in education and services and not given enough share in power as both Governorship and Chief ministership were held by the Balochs. The Baloch say that the power actually belongs to the Frontier Corps which runs a parralel government in the province. Mahmood Khan Achakzai of Pk-MAP increased his demand of division of Balochistan (and restoration of British Balochistan) after the US Congressional hearing on Balochistan in 2012. Even discussions over Quetta’s city status and competition over its control reverberated in the drawing rooms.

On the other hand, Hazaras feel squeezed from all around for having been attacked by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Taliban while left out by both the provincial government and the Frontier Corps in addition to facing discriminations in educational institutions, government offices and civil services.

The ethno-sectarian biases towards Hazaras have been documented by a number of rights groups. A report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan released in August 30th, 2012 reads: “Hazaras have been already uprooted from Machh, Loralai and Zhob. It seems a campaign has been launched to terrorize the Hazara community so that they leave Quetta by selling their businesses and property at throwaway prices. Pamphlets have been left at their homes telling them to sell their houses and leave.”

The report further reads “administration seems to bear ethnic and sectarian biases against the Hazara-Shia community. Since the new government assumed the charge, not a single challan (charge sheet) had been presented in courts against the accused. The accused are arrested in the morning and released in the afternoon. No government or public official had ever condemned the targeted killing of members of the Hazara community nor came to condole the murders or offer any compensation to the victims' families.”

There were also reports of provincial ministers being involved in targeted-attacks, kidnapping for ransom and land grabbing. Despite the fact that Hazaras had voted for PPP candidates in the previous elections, the party's leaders sometimes even blamed the Hazaras themselves for the killings, instead of protecting them.

For instance, PPP MNA Ayatullah Durrani claimed during a live TV show that Hazaras kill each other to strengthen their cases of asylum in Australia. Such ruthless behavior enraged the community at large and not everybody considered this as an individual act.

Sectarian outfits such as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’at (former Sipah e Sahaba Pakistan) had no say in Balochistan before but in recent years they have managed to hold huge public rallies, conferences and congregations. They issue regular statements against Shias on local media but the province’s main political parties have not practically done anything to stop it as they consider, albeit falsely, that the venom of sectarian terrorism does not hurt them directly. The continuous onslaught against Shias, Ahmadis and Hindus has actually helped the criminals and land mafia who are enjoying immunity.

Amidst utter hopelessness, helplessness, sense of insecurity and frustrations, Hazaras this time refused to bury the victims of the twin blasts on January 10, 2013. They staged a three-day long sit-in alongside the coffins of their loved ones in subzero temperature on Alamdar Road, Quetta, demanding removal of Nawab Aslam Raisani's government who had even mocked the community by offering “truckload of tissue papers for the bereaved families to wipe out their tears” after the Mastung massacre in 2011.

The protest was initially ignored by both the provincial and federal governments. However, as more and more people took to the streets across Pakistan and around the globe to express solidarity with the protesters, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf travelled to Quetta after three days and announced imposition of Governor's rule in the province. This move apparently convinced the protesters to bury the dead bodies but did not satisfy the community at large in terms of security assurances. They had no other options as their immediate demand was fulfilled.

However, Ahmed Kohzad, General Sectary Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), who went on a three-day hunger strike along with his party leadership and workers, is not satisfied with the outcome of the protests and vowed to “resume our protests peacefully and through various means if the government does not ensure our security which can only be achieved by a targeted operation against the terrorists. Our demand is targeted operations against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its affiliates.”

“Military interventions and Governor’s rule are not the solutions. We demand an end to the killings, by any means possible. If not, we will be forced to knock at the door of international communities,” Ahmed replied to a question whether he thought the Governor's rule would solve the problem.

Nawab Aslam Raisani, who had earlier sacked Jan Ali Changezi (the only minister from the Hazara community) due to his protests against the killings, said in interview from London to a private TV channel, “I expected this (being sacked) from last three years.” But he linked his removal to the Reko Diq copper-cum-gold mining project. “It [Quetta sit-in] was just an excuse. Sectarian killings take place everywhere, even in Indonesia,” said the ex-chief minister.

The removal of Raisani government and imposition of Governer's rule caused an outrage among the political circles who were either directly affected by losing ministries or were critical of strengthening the undemocratic forces.  Balochistan Assembly rejected the Governor’s rule and called it 'unconstitutional'. They have warned President Asif Ali Zardari to undo the notification of governor’s rule and if not, they would ‘stage province-wide protest demonstrations’.

Some Baloch nationalist parties have also expressed concerns over imposition of Governer's rule and handing over policing authority to the Frontier Corps which, they fear, would be greatly used against Baloch activists. Nonetheless, the fact is that the Frontier Corps had been already enjoying policing authority in the past. So, other than removal of a spectator and helpless cabinet, nothing actually changed.

The fact is that attacks will not cease unless the terror networks are dismantled through targeted clean-up operations against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi hideouts and Taliban quarters in the province which seems unpredictable as long as the military establishment's policy of ‘divide-and-rule’ towards Balochistan and policy of ‘strategic depth’ towards Afghanistan remain unchanged. Not to forget that Hazara leaders had at times blamed the Frontier Corps for its unwillingness to arrest the attackers.

Having said this, the frequency of attacks on Hazaras may decrease for a couple of months until a new civilian government replaces the current one to stand at the receiving end of the blame. At the same time, the Frontier Corps might apprehend a couple of low level LeJ operatives (to be released later, as usual) amidst an effort to make some headlines but the main target might be Baloch nationalists  and seperatists.

Last but not the least, there is a huge fear of ethnic and sectarian conflicts in the province if the situations remain the same. It is up to the people of Balochistan to either unite and fight to save their habitat or let the fire burn the whole jungle as it will not remain limited to just a single communityor area.

The author is a freelance journalist and human rights activist from Quetta. He can be reached at

The views expressed by this writer and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (18)

Anwar Khan
January 30, 2013 3:21 pm
The Hazara Tribe means the 1000 People remained from the Slaves of Alacko Khan when he Invaided Afghanistan, Later the Name Hazar became the Hazara, many of them belong to Ismailiya and Atish Parast. When i was child (about 13 Year) Hazar had only 1500 to 2000 homes in Quetta durring Taliban Era in Afghanistan hundred of Thousands migrated to Pakistan and Iran becouse of Taliban fears amoung Hazaras'. We all know and seen that each Hazara person come from Afghanistan through Chaman and Thorkham Border, The Texi drivers from Chaman take Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15, 000 to smuggle them to Quetta, I have seen that the Levies, FC and Police checkpoint search each and every Vehicle coming from Chaman to Quetta and hunt Hazaras and take Rs. 1000 or more from Hazaras each person. When they reach to Bacha Khan Chowk Quetta from Afghan Border, the Hazar Volenteers receive them and take them to the Tanzeem in Mariabad, where he is well dressed, make him hunderstand of the Pashton and Baloch environment, Later the Hazara commoettiee members contact the Agent (Nadara) (They Inhirent each person as a new son to get him registered) for their NIC we have seen and know that the Agent take Rs.30,000 to Rs.50, 000 (hahhahahah) in few days Afghan Hazara gets NIC, Driving & Arms Licence and free in Pakistan, (But i witness that i have seen the Locals who face rude behavier of NADRA Staff and face difficulty in getting their Legal NIC etc.) I can prove these fake NICs by doing Genatic or DNA tests, (The Hazaras in Afghanistan is blood thirsty of Pakistanis, strongly anti-Pakistan elements and abouse Pakistan and Pakistanis), they are burden and Chaos on Quetta Locals. (They are used secterianly and Politicaly by Nibouring Contries and send them billions of dollars). The request here we Locals make also as a protest to peacfully, respectively and diserly send these illegal imegrants to their Homeland. There is many more to write but i hope later i must write and complete this debat.
Hazheer Hazara
January 30, 2013 3:46 pm
Oh my Goodness, I cann't believe my eyes! Such a talent ... Somebody please Call BBC London, Al-Jazeera and Reuters we have got a very Talented brother who has done all the researches (Including DNA tests) on Hazaras ... It would be a great loss for the Pakistani nation to lose such a bright intellectual. Now, Joking aside, Seriously? I mean Anwer Khan, Seriously? Had you conducted such exclusive researches on yourself, I bet your name would not have that 'KHAN' at the end. I am serious. And about Hazaras ... People saw their Strength and Unity all over the world. Hazaras are Proud to have Afghanistani Hazaras, Pakistani Hazaras, American Hazara, Australlian Hazaras, Swedish Hazara and ... About Hazaras being blood thirsty enemies of Pakistan, I am seriously concerned that lest there come a day when you would claim General Muhammad Musa KHAN Hazara (aka Hero 1965) to be a so called 'KHAN' ... But Hey, Can you get me a FREE drivers license and an Arms License? I really need one as you are saying they are FREE. I swear to GOD I have Orignal NIC and everything !
Malik Siraj Akbar
January 30, 2013 4:02 pm
It is factually incorrect to say that Raisani sacked the sole Hazara minister Jan Ali Chagezi because of his protest against the Hazara killing. As far as I know, Raisani sacked fire ministers on March 26, 2009, including Mr. Changezi, because of internal party differences with Raisani. The event took place on the eve of President Zardari's visit to Quetta and Sadiq Umrani wanted Zardari to appoint him as the CM of Balochistan. Besides Changezi, four other ministers who were sacked included Sadiq Umrani, Babu Mohammad Amin Umrani, Agha Irfan Karim and Isfandar Kakar. Just wanted to straighten the facts.
January 30, 2013 4:32 pm
If you are so sure about what you have claimed above about Hazaras of Quetta! Then, can you tell me, Who was General Musa Khan Hazara? Oh sorry! wrong question, my mistake! "He was blood thirsty Hazara of Afghanistan Who was given the charge of Pakistan Army for five years! and this blood thirsty Hazara (Pakistanis blood) with his extraordinary skills defended Pakistan against Indian Invasion of (1965). Poor Musa Khan He had no idea what he was doing at that time, he was going against his tribe because his tribe (according to you is blood thirsty of Pakistani's) by the way, who will decide that, who is more Pakistani? nice job mate! you've got some skills, you can start writing fiction! lol ;) but if you were damn serious and wrote all this, thinking to be true, then I am sorry to say that "Ignorance is the worst enemy of humanity". go to the school once more and please don't dump you classes this time, other wise you'll loose you last chance of proving your self to be Human! I pity your thought!
Malik Ahmad
January 30, 2013 4:58 pm
Anwar Khan: Regardless how they come, cross border, pay hush money, they are still entitled to sanctity of lives. Millions of Pakistanis, including many members of parliaments have acquired dual nationalities, and have been fairly treated in foreign countries. Many Afghanis (non-Hazaras) had taken sanctuary in Pakistan, in the KPP province and otherwise in Karachi, does that give any right to the locals to slaughter them. Absolutely not. Their treatment to Pakistanis, even if wrong in Afghanistan, have no justification for their slaughter in Pakistan. They are not slaughtered in Quetta because of their ethnicity but because of their religious beliefs, and that is totally un-Islamic.
Saleem Javed
January 30, 2013 8:14 pm
Dear, Siraj. Thanks for the feedback. Jan Ali Changezi was sacked on 15 November, 2012. He had protested against government for its “failure to stop the killing of Hazaras”. Express Tribune: Political fallout: Raisani fires Changhezi from cabinet The same reason was told to me as well.
Ali Hazara
January 30, 2013 9:06 pm
Dr. Saleem Javed had expressed the Hazara genocide very well. He lauded the truth by raising the causes of Hazara genocide in Pakistan. From the birth of Pakistan in 1947, The Hazaras are the first whom served the country and Balochistan, not this even they had given their bloods in the way of prosperity of the country. Hazaras are loyal to Pakistan and Balochistan and they must not be used as a " Scapegoat " in order to counter Baloch separatism. The game and the artificial religious tensions must be given an end. All the problems including Balochistan issue must resolved through brotherhood and mutual respect. Every human, Pakistani, Balochistani, civil societies, human rights organizations, intellectuals, poets, youths, Supreme Court of the country and UN must stand against HAZARA GENOCIDE and play their positive role.
January 30, 2013 9:34 pm
this is a reply to anwar khan you sound more like a LEJ worker or red neck racist the information which u have provided is completely wrong and insane. Hazara are proud Pakistani with numerous contribution to pakistani society and economony. Many phastoon have fleed afghanistan former taliban after invasion of america in afghanistan. Many of criminals are behind all these bloodshed and inhuman acts.
January 31, 2013 12:03 am
The reason why Hazaras are weak in Afghanistan and not fight back in Pakistan is because we do not believe in violence. I live in UK now but when i was in jaghori Afghanistan in 1990 the pushtoon people attacked the Hazara areas to take their land, money and basically all they had. In return Hazaras did fight back and defeated the pushtoon and captured vast pushtoon areas. Not long after the defeat of pushtoon, the Hazara leaders invited the pushtoon back to the land they lived and encouraged peace and justice. Today i do not consider the pushtoon of Afghanistan our enemy, they are their own enemy. Killing Hazaras do not make pushtoon stronger but a weaker Afghanistan. There fore a lose of Hazara life is a lose of Pakistani life what ever you think guys. I lived in Pakistan for 5 years and i found Pakistanis very friendly towards the Pakistani Hazaras. We know that the people of Pakistan are against the killing of Hazaras but its only tiny minority with support from outside with some agency support from inside i believe carry out the killing of Hazaras. Stand together and fight for better Pakistan. TOGETHER YOU ARE, STRONGER YOU ARE! THANK YOU!!!
Sunni Hazara
January 31, 2013 7:10 pm
How Pashtoon refugees reach Karachi and majority of them get nationality. The ruthless biases and discrimination against Hazaras are involved no non-Muslims in Australia or Europe, they give asylum on humanitarian grounds, rather Muslim brothers are involved with committing genocide of Hazaras on the ground and supervised by security establishment. Still we Hazaras do not support any sort of human rights abuses against any human in any part of the world including Pashtoons.
Mukhtar Hussain
January 31, 2013 4:38 pm
Improve your knowledge and turned some true pages of history than you will come to know about the history of HAZARA. or just know the meaning of KHAN than you will know about the history of HAZARA...which wrongly you put with your name....
January 31, 2013 8:01 am
Anwar Khan, your are preaching wrong propaganda / figures about Hazaras, very few Hazaras has migrated from Afghanistan in comparison with Pashtoon Refugees. I have witnessed that the Quetta Bazaars were belonged to Hazaras before 1970 / 80. Full of Hazaras had shops in Kandhari Bazaar, Liaquat and Jinnah Road. It was pashtoon invaders who forcefully bought the shops of Hazaras in Quetta cities. I am wetness when Samad Khan and his son Mehmood Khan were preaching Pashtoons to come / settle int the city of Quetta in the 1970s / 80s. The Refugee Hazaras are still living with any Pak ID, rather they have Refugee Cards. Hazaras even before Independence of Pakistan has defeated the Indian Team. I think you forget the Football match in Mali Bagh between Hazara Club and Chaman / Bacha Khan Club, where thousand of Hazaras spectataors were watching and supporting their Team. Hazaras never remained slaves of any warriors. They were living in Afghanistan even before Islam, the great statue of Budha of Bamyan were the prove of this.
January 30, 2013 2:26 pm
Sad , very sad whats happening to an old , ancient group of people.
Qaiser Bakhtiari
January 30, 2013 2:46 pm
Mister Raisani's attempt to belittle the massacre of Hazaras by saying that sectarian killings happen everywhere is beyond disbelief. What Raisani forgets to mention is that the apathy shown after the killings is something that doesn't exist in the most part of cultured world. I am sorry Mister Raisani but your lack of intelligence coupled with your lack of sympathy towards people of your own province was enough to get you out of the office.
January 31, 2013 5:43 am
If your story is accepted (although its not true ) even than nobody has the right to kill innocent and unarmed people. You did not write a single word about that. If all of us will not respect human life than believe me Pakistan will not be a worth living place for EVERYONE/ANYONE. So raise your voice to protect Hazara's life ( in general human life ), if not for them than at least to protect yourself and your generation to come. Nobody should support violence directly or indirectly, otherwise one day it will reach to his home also.
January 31, 2013 5:50 am
Mr. Khan i would suggest that first u take the DNA test of yours and i am sure that the result would reflect that you belong to Afghanistan or some other country. Yours arguments are totally foolish, people migrate to such places where there are opportunities not where their life is unprotected .let me ask a question from you would you and your family be blissfully migrate to Rohingya, Palestine or any country where your life would be threatened? you want to reflect by your post that it is justified to kill them? i couldn't understand that how you and people of your mentality, justify the killing of innocents in the name of Islam which is a religion of Peace?
Taqi Ramzan
January 31, 2013 6:35 am
they were reinstated and were just being sacked in near past...........
January 30, 2013 11:56 am
Realistic article. The information and facts provided are enough to prove that terrorism menace is a home grown phenomena and will be controlled by taking tough measures by the security forces & other agencies. Half hearted efforts will not help. As some people say that if allied forces leave from Afghanistan everything in Pakistan will be alright. Its not true. Hate against shias and other minorities will remain and terrorism based on that will further intensify. To bring peace, hate-centers and preaching of hate philosophies need to be abolish within Pakistan.
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