By Samuel Baid
“If there was a sign of the demise of the Pakistani State, it is the killing of Hazara community of Quetta”, writes Khalid Ahmed in his well-informed 2016 book “sleep walking to surrender- dealing with terrorism in Pakistan”. This book brings out Army’s sly patronage of the killers of Hazara Shias. Hence, there are no arrests and no punishments for killers, only promises to do so.
Terrorism committed against Hazaras in the name of Islam is outside the purview of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Punjab based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claims that by killing Shias, it is purifying Islam, so do believe Ahle-Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ), the Taliban and Islamic State (or Daesh). The last has owned responsibility for slitting the throats of 11 sleeping coals miners on January 3 in Maachh area of Balochistan. Nine of them are said to be Afghans. The coal mines have traditionally employed Hazaras since the British days.
For this reason, many Hazara families settled down in Machh. With the rapid rise of anti-Shia groups such as Punjab based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Balochistan, Hazara Shias moved to a ghetto-life in Quetta from different parts of the province. Here also they live in fear of death any moment. These ghettos give them no assurance of security. One Pakistani newspaper, “The News” writes in an editorial the horror that torments them every minute. One way to constantly prepare them for this tragedy is to take pictures of their family members and friends to hang on walls or to put on metal piece in preparation for a day when they may never see their faces again.
More guilty than the LeJ, the Islamic State, ASWJ or the Taliban, are those who have political power but no political will, or those who connive at those sectarian terrorists acquiring weapons and explosive materials in the security tight province of Balochistan where the army is on alert all the time. That should explain why civilians in political power do not act against sectarian terrorists despite their loud promises. The whole fact is that killing of Hazara Shias is treated in Pakistan as a movement, but what bothers rulers of that Khudadad (god-given) country is adverse publicity abroad. Whatever promise of action they make is an attempt to counter that adverse publicity.
Look at the attitude of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He showed no reassuring immediate reaction when 11 Hazara Shia coal miners were killed. The relatives and friends of the dead put the bodies on western by- pass area of Quetta insisting that they would bury the bodies only if the Prime Minister came to give them assurance to punish the killers. Imran Khan’s reply shocked many Pakistanis when he told the grieving relatives that you cannot blackmail the Prime Minister; first you bury the dead. He was conscious of his position as Prime Minister but what about his duty towards the life and property of each citizen of the country. He must be aware that it was not the first time that Hazara Shias were butchered.
In fact he himself is considered pro-Taliban who killed Hazara Shias in Afghanistan in hundreds during their rule there. Between 2008 and 2017, 758 Shias were killed in Balochistan in 470 incidents. Of them, 338 were Hazara Shias. There are a number of cases of off-loading Hazara Shias from those coming from or going to Islam for shooting them dead on Mustang road. In 2014 at least 24 young boys and girls who were returning to Quetta from pilgrimage in Iran, were blown up by a suicide bomber in Mustang Road. Before that, more than 100 Hazara men, women and children died when a vehicle laden with explosives blew up a market place where Hazara Shias lived. Earlier, attacks were carried out by Sipah-e-Shaiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi during the Ashura in 2003 and 2004.
It is shocking that after killing 26 Hazara Shias in 2011, Lashkare-e-Jhangvi issued a press statement saying Pakistan was the land of the pure and therefore Shias had no business to be there. It was therefore their Islamic duty to exterminate them. The government did not feel challenged.
An ironical fact about Pakistan is the country is most unsafe for literate and intelligent sections of Pakistanis. On the other hand, it is the safest place for quarter or half literate Madarssa alumni-Army’s assets-and semi literate politicians. In the former category, had come Bengalis who had brain and higher literacy rate in Pakistan. They were ill treated. Muhajirs got best education in India before they migrated to Pakistan. The army is after their blood. The most despised section in Pakistan is the Ahmediyya community which is highly literate and disciplined. The fault with Hazaras is that they are not having high literacy but business acumen which makes them prosperous.