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Situationer | Hazaras: Fault in their faces

Updated Oct 24, 2014 02:20pm


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—Photo by Nadir Siddiqui
—Photo by Nadir Siddiqui

“Hazaras, you know, are our ladla babies,” said one of Quetta’s senior most police officer earlier this month. “We’ll do anything to protect them.” He was giving an off the record briefing and went into some detail about the number of security cordons he had thrown around the Hazara community in Quetta, particularly Hazara town. And what about their movement? Students, traders, office workers? Students going to the university, according to the police officer, got a police escort. The problems of food delivery were discussed. “Even the vegetable vendors get police escort,” he said triumphantly. And then like a true philosopher of law and order he went on to explain: “Do you know the basic problem with Hazaras? They look different; because of their features, they are easily identifiable.”

On Thursday, when eight of those pampered babies, with different features, were gunned down while buying fruit and vegetables, Quetta’s police was quick to absolve themselves. “We offered them escort, and they just didn’t tell us.” Blaming the victim is the oldest sport in the country but here the law-enforcers seemed to be saying that if Hazaras are so fond of becoming martyrs, who can stop them?

Haji Abdul Qayyum Changezi, the head of Hazara Qaumi Jirga and a survivor of many Hazara massacres, still thinks there is a way to stop it. Earlier this month, in his Hazara Town office, he was surrounded by fellow survivors. A man had lost his entire family. “Yes all of them,” the man shook his head and refused to say anything more. Here was a transporter who had lost all his business. An eight-year-old kid with a scar across his face who lost his mother in the Mastung bus massacre. “I was sitting in the front of the bus playing with my brother, my mother was at the back,” was all he could remember. Homes in Hazra Town were full of teenagers who couldn’t go to university and their parents who couldn’t go to their jobs while amateurish looking gunmen sat on streets corners trying to do DIY security.

Haji Changezi tapped on a pile of national Urdu dailies published from Quetta and pointed to headlines that he had highlighted; in various poetic forms inciting the murder of Shia Hazras. “Whenever these headlines appear, an attack on our community follows. Can anyone stop these headlines?” A young man in the office opened the Facebook page of a banned sectarian organisation and played a clip from a rally held recently in Quetta stadium. A singer sang a composition declaring all Shias kafir. Speakers following him did the same in blood-curdling prose.

Liaqat Ali Hazara, the transporter said that he had approached the military authorities to resume his business. “Give it to us in writing that if one of your buses gets attacked you’ll not protest again and sit on the streets with your coffins.”

He is still considering the offer. “There are some drivers who are willing to drive my buses. They are saying if we are going to die sitting in our homes then we might as well die working. Also if you are in a moving bus maybe you have a better chance of survival.”

Another young man complained that non-Hazara bus drivers had started refusing Hazara passengers. “They think we are a security threat. Sometimes they charge us extra.”

When Balochistan government officials say that ‘security is tight’, they are really not exaggerating. The road leading to Hazara Town has not one but two FC posts manned by super alert jawans and officers who ask the same question thrice; the kind of vigilance you are not likely to see off a battlefield. The rest of the entry points to Hazara town have been sealed by building concrete walls. It might still be called Hazara Town but it looks more like an internment camp.

“They have found a great way to keep us safe,” said Haji Changezi. “They have made us prisoners in our own homes. If I want to go to my neighbourhood shop, I can’t because there is a wall on the way now. A few days ago I tried to walk past the checkpoint and they had their guns pointed at me. You can’t leave without your gunmen. Not even ten steps. No.”

But even internment camps need fruit and vegetables.

Many Quetta bureaucrats seem genuinely concerned, sometimes even baffled at the viciousness of attacks against Hazaras, at the same time they appear understanding, if not approving, of their killers. “I used to be able to reason with these people when I served in Punjab but here they just don’t listen,” said a police officer referring to the kind of people who hold huge rallies in Quetta city and wax lyrical about killing Shias, eliminating Hazaras.

Official after official in Quetta reminds us, in tones dripping with regret, that the basic problem with Hazaras is that they are easily identifiable. As if the fault in their stars were their looks, and not their faith. As if, somehow, if they started looking like everybody else their killers would leave them alone. Those who murder the Hazaras are loud and clear about their reasons. The people who are tasked with protecting them are still shy of naming their killers, let alone confronting them publicly.

After Thursday’s massacre, one can almost hear one of these officials saying. “The real problem with Hazaras is they want to go and buy their own fruits and vegetables.”

The writer is a journalist and author.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2014


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Comments (55) Closed

Ghani K Oct 24, 2014 07:22am

In Islamabad, enjoying all the perks, discussing how important was saving democracy, forgetting that different looking Hazaras are Pakistani citizens and they deserve equal protection under the law. Then why these lovers of democracy are so oblivious to the sufferings of Hazaras?

Sami Oct 24, 2014 07:27am

My heart will explode, feeling severe pain after reading it. Why don't government and authorities take actions against those killers. Everybody knows that they are sitting in madrases.

salma Oct 24, 2014 08:15am

Saray jahan say acha ya Pakistan hamaray. So if a community is different from you then just eliminate it in any possible way. So why do we cry and protest when something different happens with Muslims in western countries.

Parvez Oct 24, 2014 08:53am

Shame ON Pakistan and shame on US we call our self Muslims and do everything in action like an ANIMAL

Shafique Oct 24, 2014 09:00am

Govt. is not to serve public so why would they care for public! Despite a series of attacks over years not even a single culprit is punished... What can be more embarrassing than this?

ajeet Oct 24, 2014 09:30am

Some one tried a policy of bleeding his neighbor through 1000 cuts. But it leads to 10000 cuts for himself.

xyz Oct 24, 2014 09:33am

@sami you cant although my feelings same as yours but if govt really want to protect them need to remove some biased laws that declares them as non muslims then only there is a little hope but i cant see that happening.

bit saf Oct 24, 2014 09:47am

It is clear that Islam has failed to bridge the ethnic divide between mongoloid people and indo-iranian-caucasian people. perhaps blood is really thicker than water, and genes are more important than holy scriptures. perhaps the Hazaras should really contemplate whether it is better to remain as virtual slaves of fellow Muslim Indo-Iranian peoples or rather join arms with their powerful but non-Muslim blood-cousins in China and East Asia and assert their distinct genetic heritage? After all, the same slit-eyed face that endangers a Hazara in Pakistan, draws awe and admiration in the civilized world when it belongs to a world-class Chinese athlete or a Korean business tycoon or a Japanese scientist. Perhaps it's time to the really think out of the box, just perhaps ?.....

Mohit Sharma Oct 24, 2014 09:48am

Shame on Pakistan social security system

srini Oct 24, 2014 09:51am

And these people shout against violence against Rohingyas.. why cant they see massacre in there very own land?

Hakim Oct 24, 2014 10:11am

It is so sad my brothers Hazaras. May Allah protect all of you as we have failed due to our national security weaknesses. How does Nawaz Shareef and General Raheel go to sleep after reading something like that. We could only pray for your safety as no minority has any protection in this failed state of Pakistan.

Mehdi Oct 24, 2014 10:24am

What a shame ! Pakistan government is not ready to protect Pakistani people and other countries like Australia offer them asylum.

Peudo Intellectual Oct 24, 2014 10:55am

Indian: Go look after your country first.. you have the worst record in the world

Naqi Akbar Oct 24, 2014 11:07am

the following qoute from the story says it all, from where emanates support for the murderers! those who support do not want the victims to protest either! Liaqat Ali Hazara, the transporter said that he had approached the military authorities to resume his business. “Give it to us in writing that if one of your buses gets attacked you’ll not protest again and sit on the streets with your coffins.” He is still considering the offer. “There are some drivers who are willing to drive my buses. They are saying if we are going to die sitting in our homes then we might as well die working. Also if you are in a moving bus maybe you have a better chance of survival.”

nadia Oct 24, 2014 11:09am

Quetta is not a place for Hazaras to keep living there, how long will they live among butchers, we should have them relocated to friendlier region, may be somewhere in Punjab, this situation is not livable.

Ali Hassan Oct 24, 2014 11:13am

Yes there is fault in our stars.

JahanZeb Qureshi Oct 24, 2014 11:14am

Its a REAL shame that Pakistan cannot protect its own. Responsible elements have to be brought to swift justice. Events like this will conclude in Pakistan as a fail state, something that has to be avoided at all costs.

Meeru Oct 24, 2014 11:15am

Can't put in to words the sorrow felt for the tragedies this community has been through.

Sunil Oct 24, 2014 11:24am

Hazara's Shias must be saying themselves, what is our crime, that we are being targeted. Just because our belief and culture is different from others. Why cant the government protect us? Where should we go?

anshul Oct 24, 2014 11:35am

Iran should give them shelter.

Concerned human being Oct 24, 2014 12:21pm

It is a great pity that leader of Laskar A Jinghavi walking scot free across Pakistan. Pakistani courts cannot find any evidence of his culpability. I wonder if any single terrorist ever punished by Pakistan, fearing their own life. What a God forsaken country Pakistan have become!

Goga Nalaik Oct 24, 2014 01:37pm

@Sami If they close madrasas are closed then molvi Diesel, Tahir Ashrafi, molvi Shirani of Islami nazriati Council... etc will go mad and they are the true guardians of these madrasas... People don't want to see these Mulahs but many tv channels invite them to animate the debate... If they don't get media coverage, then these hate monger Mullahs will get lost in history. These are dangerous people.

Armani Oct 24, 2014 01:37pm

. We are all living in a fool paradise of 'Hoping a Religious Harmony or Love n Peace in Ummah. This Sunni-Shia-Deobandi-Marzai Problem will never End. Because it is an inherent defect in our system.. Any one in confusions please read the outcome of Jamal's One day war, No CIA or Americans were operating in Karbala as well.

Gypsy Oct 24, 2014 01:54pm

It is a shame for the government, even the whole nation, that peace loving citizens of this country are executed with full immunity. Killers, their identity, location everything is known, yet no one tries to stop this genocide.

Goga Nalaik Oct 24, 2014 02:40pm

All our sympathies go the victims and their families. We are being governed by biased politicians who have no intention to take against thes terrorists

Jatin Oct 24, 2014 02:45pm

and pakistan is concerned about the muslims living in Kashmir and India...

Haider Rehman Oct 24, 2014 03:18pm

I dont understand this confusion and intolerance. God Save Pakistan.

Haider Rehman Oct 24, 2014 03:21pm

@srini Rohingya are denied citizenship and are massacred by state. Police is trying protect Hazaras. These are fundamentally different situations.

Hamza Zuberi Oct 24, 2014 03:54pm

Pathetic ... Pakistan zindabad indeed.

Jamila khatoon Oct 24, 2014 04:00pm

Ours is a nation of dangerous and ferocious animals. Oct 24, 2014 04:05pm

Fault is not in their face, fault is elsewhere. DO we have guts to explore it?? Why violence is happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia??

Even in China, 22 people were killed recently. Lets look at root clause of the ideology, which promotes violence

Secular World Citizen Oct 24, 2014 04:08pm

@Jatin .... exactly! ! And getting distaught, angry and violent when anything happens to other Muslims in any other part of the world! The worlds Muslims needs to do a very deep introspection about their fundamental flaws, beliefs and behaviour patterns before they get further isolated thru Rising Islamophobia.

Jamila khatoon Oct 24, 2014 04:13pm

@Sami Because we as a nation have lost our face in our own eyes. We just cover it up by bluffing our way. We are beggars but we act millionaires, we are primitive but we take solace and triumphant jubilation out of solar rickshaw when world is touching mars. We, Pakistanis, are our worst enemies. India is stupid. She does not need to do anything. We will self-destruct.

Jamila khatoon Oct 24, 2014 04:20pm

@bit saf Very very intelligent comment. I wish our mainstream sunnis take heed of your hidden message. I got it and I think it is going to happen sooner or later. And when it happens, it should happen in exponential proportion. Let us hope that on behalf of all of us who are basically ashamed to call themselves muslims, happen soon.

Syed Oct 24, 2014 04:27pm

@Jamila khatoon these animals are TTP and Other splinters group of Al Qaeda

Fatima Muhammad Ali Oct 24, 2014 04:44pm

Sallam , I am hazara and i am proud to be Muslim. I really like the paragraph and thank you for supporting i appreciate it. Dawn news is THE Only news channel that shows and talk about reality.

Jamila khatoon Oct 24, 2014 05:03pm

Reforming Islam is not a matter of crossing out certain words and adding others. Religions carry a powerful set of values that appeal to people on a deep level. If we want to change Islam, we would have to understand why its ugliness still speaks to those radical muslims. To change it, we have to change them. When we talk about reforming Islam, what we are really talking about is reforming Muslims.

Parivel Oct 24, 2014 05:25pm

Dear Muslims & All human, Give up your religion. Every thing will be fine. No point in sitting on a books written in stones ages & Deserts. World has moved much beyond those books..... Have sense of humanity......

Jatin Oct 24, 2014 05:38pm

For me(a Hindu) every muslim is equal.. Can any one tell me difference between Hazara, Ahmedia, Shia, Sunni, Kurd etc. etc...Why they all the so much to kill others...

Gfellow Oct 24, 2014 06:29pm

It is like saying put a security person in every home so that no robber robs anybody. Instead police need to find the robbers and take care of them. The first option is impractical.

nasiroski Oct 24, 2014 06:33pm

"Those who murder the Hazaras are loud and clear about their reasons. The people who are tasked with protecting them are still shy of naming their killers, let alone confronting them publicly."

Here lies the problem, and it is evident that there is no escalation of the issue here to the upper echelons of power in Islamabad and Pindi, or they are all looking the other and just not acknowledging the issue.

Where is HRC?? Hazara town from this write-up looks like Ghaza of sorts.

Gfellow Oct 24, 2014 06:33pm

@Hakim generals are there to take care of borders not home security.

GKBaloch Oct 24, 2014 07:39pm

Why can't they make amendment in penal code of the country,, outlawing sectarian hatred , preached by mullahs , punishable by 10 years hard labour.

maz Oct 24, 2014 08:02pm

Why hasnt anyone used the word racism either in this article or in the comments below? Is it because we think only the white man can be racist? Wake up Pakistan! What is happening to the Hazaras is akin to what happened during apartheid. We just don't see the plain facts. These are racially motivated hate crimes.

Hrushi NYC Oct 24, 2014 08:35pm

“Do you know the basic problem with Hazaras? They look different; because of their features, they are easily identifiable.” Absolute definition of racism. Though people treating those who look different is not uncommon in the world but here it seems to be systematic and there is no institutional mechanism to prevent this from getting out of hand. On the other hand for those who point to Gujrat riots in 2002, no other riot happened for 12 more years and mainly because of the law of the land being enforced on those inciting violence. This leads me to believe that society in general approves of this mindset of not accepting hazaras as citizens with equal rights in that region.

Asif Oct 24, 2014 08:45pm

@ajeet don't worry you will be ok

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Oct 24, 2014 08:49pm

The solution of sectarian hatred is the establishment of a fair and honest society, which can be achieved gradually through free education and the elimination of feudalism.

To achieve this Pakistanis need to implement democracy in all the facets of their lives, including families, schools, religious institutions, work places, etc.etc.

It will happen gradually like in the Western socities, Japan, China, Cuba, etc. But it will take time.

Kissa Chahar Darwaish Oct 24, 2014 09:35pm

The fault does not lie in their features, the fault lies in our stars. That's why we are unable to cherish them and protect them. May Allah give 'hadayat' to their killers, Ameen.

harikumar Oct 24, 2014 10:39pm

The only solution is to ban all religions all over the world. Nothing short of that will do. Till then these types of senseless killing will continue.

NaveedJ Oct 24, 2014 11:14pm

It is just more than tregic when somone must leave their country just due to his faith. Shame on all of us as a Nation. These people are suffering and people in Pakistan are enjoying Dharnas. Shame!

PRamod Oct 25, 2014 01:29am

@Ghani K say something about peace lovers as well

Z Oct 25, 2014 04:35am

@ajeet indiatimes does not have unbiased aritcles that you are here?

An Indian Oct 25, 2014 05:39am

Authorities seem playing double game,protect the killers as well as protect the victims.The simple way is to eliminate the killers.They way Pakistani muslims are killing each other,they really do not need outside enemy.Pakistan is looking like a failed state and uncivilized nation.In India,we have stray incidences like 2002 riots but we do not have systematic killing of any community,that too within the same community !!!! Fake tears of Pakistani muslims towards Kashmiri or Rohingiya muslims are a big hypocrisy,Pakistan should first stop killing of its own people.

Ali Oct 25, 2014 10:00am

I am sorry what has said in this article is not correct by the concern and i don't agree, because the number of police escort they are providing to our community, instead they should apprehend those who are involved for this brutality. There are places inside quetta and outskirts of Quetta where they are taking hideouts. Why can't they go and apprehend them? They lives in Khuzdar, Qalat, Punjpai, Mastung, Sibbi, Much,Saryad road, Kili Ismail, New Quetta, Sat-light town. Apart from all these killings they give statements in local news papers on daily bases.

The media is also scared of these people and not bringing facts in front of the nations. If our people take weapons along with them then the law enforcement agencies will search our people and if they found any weapon then they put them behind the bars and even we launch a case no one willing to advocate or pursue the case.

Whereas there are many people who carry weapons and pass through law enforcement agencies no one will stop, this is what the actual reality on the ground and no one is will to bring this in front of the nation.

Who is protecting these people? how they are moving freely in entire city? this is big question mark on faces of the provincial government.

Ali Oct 25, 2014 10:17am

A question for law enforcement agencies that over 2000 people lost their lives from Hazara tribe, plus there are many from Sunni community and how many killers till now apprehended? Do you have any answer?

Also for those who are sitting in the courts?