Hazara Community Under House Arrest in Pakistan

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It’s been now nearly 12 years, Hazaras are being killed by Lashkar-e-Jangvi, a militant religious group, in Quetta City, Pakistan and more than 700 Hazaras have so far been killed around 2000 injured. Not a single terrorist involved in the killing of Hazaras has yet been brought to justice. Those who were captured like Usman Saifullah Kurd and Shafeeq Rind mysteriously escaped from the anti-terrorist jail situated in Quetta cantonment area, where a special pass is needed for civilians to go into the area. Terrorists after every killing incident call the local newspaper offices and proudly claim the responsibility of the killings.

They also post the killing videos on the YouTube and other social media networks. The national media blame the provincial and federal governments for being a total failure in bringing terrorists to the justice; however, Hazara community believes that the government and state establishments have deliberately disregarded Hazaras because a community with 500,000 population can’t bring any major political change in the country. The second reason is that those involved in the killing of Hazaras have been reported as “strategic asset” of the state establishment. That’s why the killers enjoy full impunity in killing Hazaras anywhere they like.

It is not necessary to go into the entire incidents; however the recent two attacks have pushed Hazaras against the wall. On June 29, 2012, at least 13 Hazaras were killed and over 20 others injured in a bomb attack on a bus mainly carrying Hazara community. Few days before on June 18, 2012, a Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) bus carrying most of the Hazara students and teachers was exploded with a remote control bomb, which resulted in the death of four students and 40 others were injured.

Few days later, two more Hazaras succumbed to injuries. It’s important to mention that the two buses which were targeted with remote control bombs were escorted with police van. Now, the Hazara community seems to have been besieged by terror and have been put under house arrest in Quetta city. The following figures may help to understand as why Hazaras feel to have been under house arrest?

There used to be around 250 Hazara students who would go to the University of Balochistan Quetta, which is the only well established university in Quetta city but now not a single Hazara student goes to university due to security threats. In addition, there were 12 Hazara lecturers, of which 4 of them have left the University of Balochistan Quetta while 5 of them are on the long leave without pay, thinking to leave if the situation doesn’t get well while three of them don’t go to the university on regular basis.

There used to be around 10 Hazara administrative staff members in the same university but none of them goes to the university anymore because of the serious life threats. After the attack on university buses, Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University Quetta and BUITEMS buses which used to come to Hazara area to pick Hazara students have now stopped coming to Hazara area.

There used to be around 200 Hazara students at Government Degree College Quetta but now not a single Hazara student goes to the college due to the security threats. Three Hazara lecturers used to teach at the college but now they all got themselves transferred in save areas two of them now teach in General Musa College, which is in Hazara vicinity.

Around 150 Hazara students used to go to Government Science College Quetta but now Hazara students have stopped going to the college owing to serious security threats. Hazara School teachers who were teaching in different parts of the government schools in Quetta or around the city either got themselves transferred in the schools running within Hazara locality or left.

Hazaras who were working with government or non-government offices in different parts of the Quetta city especially to the western side have stopped going to the work due to the killing of hundreds of Hazaras in those areas. Vegetable and fruit markets are situated on the western side of Quetta city are now no-go areas for the Hazaras.

Several Hazara greengrocers were killed while going to the vegetable market. Those who were killed were taken out of the bus, lined up and shot in front of other commuters. Other Hazara greengrocers, who used to go on their own vans, were also stopped and killed. Now the bus drivers don’t take Hazara commuters in fear of getting killed. Those who bring vegetables and fruit for Hazara areas sell them very expensive but no option for Hazaras except to buy them costly.

For the last five years, more than 50,000 Hazaras especially youngsters have left Quetta city, majority of them have managed to take refuge in other countries and nearly 300 lost their lives off shores of Australia when the boats capsized.

More than 50 Hazara businessmen have either been killed or abducted for the last five years. Terrorists without having a fear of caught spray bullets on Hazara shops and get away easily. Such incidents have forced Hazara businessmen to close their shops as customers don’t take any risk to go to Hazara shops.

Hazara traders used to do businesses within the cities in Pakistan mostly garments, leather and tea but now the coach owner have stopped taking Hazaras on their coaches in fear of getting killed or damaged to their coaches. Several attacks on the trains with rockets and bombs have constrained the vulnerable Hazaras to travel on the trains from Quetta to other cities of the country. The middle-class Hazaras who used to take their patients for further health treatment to Karachi or Lahore now unable to take them anymore as they can not afford air-tickets.

This is now the real daily life situation of Hazaras in Quetta city, waiting to get killed by religious militants. In 2012, the killing of Hazara Shia continued unabated with over 30 killed in the month of April alone and over 350 killed since 2008, reports Human Rights Watch.

So far this year, at least 60 people belonging to Hazara community dwelling in Quetta have been killed in targeted attacks, including suicide, remote controlled and timer device bombings and firing.
Pakistani government doesn’t seem bothered to rein the terrorists as it doesn’t have any human courage to confront with the state establishments and put an end to the human loss.

Now whose responsibility is it to come forward to put a big full stop to Hazara killings? Of course, all eyes go on the international community and the human rights organizations which have the capability to exert pressure on the real rulers of Pakistan to grab the hands of all those master minds who shed the cheap blood of Hazaras on nearly daily basis.

Originally published on Outlook Afghanistan newspaper on 14th of July 2012.

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