Persecution of Hazara people in Quetta
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The Hazara community in Quetta, in Pakistan, is reported to be the victim of persecution and violence. At least 3000 Hazara men, women and children have lost their lives and more than 5000 have been injured in Quetta in recent years. The Pakistani Sunni Muslim extremist militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is assumed to be behind the attacks against Hazaras.
Hazaras have been living in Pakistan since the 19th century, when they fled to British India from Hazarajat, the central highland region of Afghanistan, due to persecution by Emir Abdul Rahman Khan. The Hazaras are mainly Shiite Muslims in Sunni-dominated Pakistan and are easily identifiable due to their Mongoloid features. The two Hazara enclaves —Alamdar Road and Hazara Town— are under constant barrage of attacks where armed killers patrol city streets executing Hazaras wherever they find them. Other groups find Hazaras easy target, frequently abducting for ransom and forcing them to sell their valuable businesses for pennies. Currently the 600,000 peaceful Hazara community are confined in an open-air jail – the 4 to 5 mile radius of two enclaves. While all Shia People killed and injured in Balochistan are 100% Hazaras, a statement from UN Sec General, as well as some of the main Local & International news sources have absolutely not a single mention of “Hazara.”
Acts of violence involving Sunni Muslims and their Shia counterparts in Pakistan have been evident since the 1980s. They are generally considered to have arisen from attempts by the then national leader, Zia ul-Haq, to legitimise his military dictatorship and from the influx of weapons into the country following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Although the perpetrators often do not claim responsibility for the attacks, expert analysis suggests that in recent times it is the Sunnis who are dominating the aggression and that they are motivated by the ideology of Al-Qaeda. The number of violent incidents has been increasing in recent years, although not all of them are classified by the police as being sectarian attacks.
Quetta, which is the capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, has seen numerous of these violent incidents. This is in part because of a separatist movement involving militants from the ethnic minority who desire greater autonomy and also because the Pakistani military is engaged in counter-insurgency operations near to the province's border with Afghanistan, where there is tribal strife that involves the Taliban and allied groups.
It is widely assumed that the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni Muslim extremist militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), is behind the attacks on the Hazara community in the region. There are differences of opinion regarding whether LeJ is a breakaway group of a banned former political party, Sipah-e-Sahaba, or simply its armed wing. The LeJ openly issues death threats to Hazaras through newspaper ads and describes them as wajib-ul-qatl (deserving of death). Many Hazaras believe that the perpetrators cannot possibly be operating independently. LeJ is believed to be one of many Pakistani terrorist groups which fought for Taliban against the United Front in Afghanistan in the 1990s. It is also suggested that the country's security establishment might be trying to provoke the Hazara against other ethnic groups in the province as most of the terrorist organizations in Pakistan are allegedly supported by the country's military establishment. The Pakistani Army and its intelligence wing, the ISI, have accused foreign interference in Balochistan's affairs, without directly responding to allegations against themselves for allowing the banned terrorist organizations to operate freely and with complete impunity.
Various advocacy groups, such as the Hazara People International Network, have been formed to publicise the situation and promote opposition to it. The Hazara diaspora in Australia, Western Europe and North America have also joined these protests from time to time. Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, the political leader of the Hazara in Afghanistan, has also expressed solidarity with the Hazara community in Quetta.
The persecution carried out against the Hazara have been documented by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
Responding to a journalist's question regarding the Mastung Massacre, Aslam Raisani, chief minister of Balochistan, said, The population of Balochistan is in millions, 40 dead in Mastung, is no big deal. When asked about what he could do for the grieving families of the victims, he replied, I can send truckload of tissue paper for them to wipe their tears. Mahmood Khan Achakzai, and Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the exiled Baloch leaders, have also condemned the killings and demanded that the Pakistani security establishment take stern action against those involved in terrorism and acts of violence against civilians. In his reaction on March 29, 2012, Sardar Akhtar Mengal accused the Pakistani military establishment of trying to sow hatred and division among the oppressed peoples by promoting religious extremism and intolerance, which his people regarded against their traditions.
The Pakistani Army and its intelligence wing, the ISI, have accused foreign interference in Balochistan's affairs, without directly responding to allegations against themselves for allowing the banned terrorist organizations to operate freely and with complete impunity.
Human Rights Watch was strident in denouncing the attacks and was very critical of the Pakistani government for their incompetence and profound inadequacy in attempts to track down the perpetrators and bring much-awaited justice to country's Shiite minority. Reportedly, 400 Shiites were targeted and killed in 2012 attacks, including over 120 Hazaras in Balochistan alone.
Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch, Ali Dayan Hasan asserted, "2012 was the bloodiest year for Pakistan's Shia community in living memory and if this latest attack is any indication, 2013 has started on an even more dismal note. As Shia community members continue to be slaughtered in cold blood, the callousness and indifference of authorities offers a damning indictment of the state, its military and security agencies. Pakistan's tolerance for religious extremists is not just destroying lives and alienating entire communities, it is destroying Pakistani society across the board."
Timeline of attacks
Following is an incomplete list of Major terrorist attacks against Hazara community in Quetta.
February 9: Six passengers were shot dead and five severely wounded when they were traveling in a van en route from Hazara Town to Alamdar road. Later, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack.
March 2: At least 42 persons were killed and more than 100 critically injured when a religious procession of the Shia Muslims was attacked with extensive open-firing which followed an explosion by rival Sunni extremists at Liaquat Bazaar in Quetta on Tenth of Muharram. Lashkar-e Jhangvi claimed the responsibility.
January 10: Agha Ghulam Ali, aged 25, owner of the famous fruit juice outlet in Pakistan. His father Agha Abbas Ali had also been murdered by the same Sunni Muslim terrorist organization in May 2002.
At least 73 people were killed and 206 injured when a bomb exploded during a rally.
Eight died and fifteen were wounded in the early morning when armed men fired rockets at Hazara people playing outside in an open field. Children were also among the victims. [clarification needed]
A bus carrying pilgrims to Taftan was stopped in Mastung near Quetta, after identifying Hazara passengers they were massacred leaving 26 dead. Three more were shot dead when they were on their way to collect the bodies.
September 23: Five more Shia Hazara were casualties in an attack when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a van.
October 4: Thirteen Hazara vegetable vendors were among the fourteen victims when unidentified gunmen targeted a van in Quetta.
March 29: A taxi carrying passengers from Hazara Town was sprayed with bullets, which killed seven and injured six. Three women and some children were also among the casualties. This was the third attack on the community in just one week. Two boys under 16 were shot dead by the police as they tried to disperse angry protesters blocking traffic, raising the death toll to nine.
April 9: Six men were killed by unidentified gunmen on Prince road.
April 14: Eight Hazara men were killed on their way to work when armed assailants opened fire on a taxi carrying them on Brewery road.
April 21: Two brothers were shot dead on Brewery road near SBKW University adjacent to Hazara Town, Quetta. The Pakistani paramilitary force of Frontier Corps later arrested three suspects with the help of locals.
June 28: 15 people were killed and 45 others injured, when a suicide attack occurred on a bus in Quetta which had just returned from Iran carrying 60 pilgrims including scores of women and children belonging to the Hazara community. Among the dead were four women and two children.
November 6: "Assailants on a motorcycle opened fire on a yellow taxi cab on Spinny Road": 3 Hazaras killed, 2 injured.
10th Jan 2013:
Several bombings took place in the southwestern Pakistani in the city of Quetta, where four separate explosions a few minutes apart in the evening ripped through a snooker hall Alamdar Road in a neighborhood dominated by ethnic Hazara Shiites, killing at least 115 people in total and wounding more than 270. The first explosion happened inside the hall, and a vehicle was blown outside the club by one of the attackers on the arrival of police officers and journalists. The second explosion killed five police officers along with one cameraman. Due to the overabundance of casualties, the hospitals were overwhelmed. It was, according to one Hazara leader, the worst attack in Quetta in 14 years. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sunni militant organization, has claimed the responsibility of these attacks.
16th Feb 2013:
A big bomb blast at Kirani Roadnear Hazara Town of Quetta killed 73 and wounded at least 180 people from Shia community. The deadly bombing comes after 36 days of Governor Rule in Balochistan that was imposed following Alamdar Road’s twin bombings on Jan 10 in Quettawhich had claimed more than 100 lives of Hazara people. attacks. Banned outfit Lashkar Jhangvi (LJ) claimed responsibility for the bombing.
30 June 2013:
At least 33 Hazaras were killed (including 9 women and 4 children) and over 70 seriously injured (15 in critical condition) when Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists carried a suicide attack and exploded an improvised explosive device in a crowded area in Ali Abad, Hazara Town area. The attacks were meters away from Abu Talib mosque near Blakhi chowk (4-way) in Ali Abad. he attack, once again, has happened despite the fact that the entire area is cordoned off by security agencies and every person entering the area is checked. Al-Qaeda affiliated Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LEJ) terrorists called NNI and claimed responsibility for the Attack.
21 January 2014:
A blast targeting a convoy of two Hazara pilgrim buses and four security vehicles near Dringhar/Koshak area of Mastung district has killed at least 30 and injured 37, including many women and children. Following the blast, terrorists opened indiscriminate fire on the buses that were carrying many women and children. The bus was on its way from Taftan to Quetta when it was targeted. Al-Qaeda affiliated Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LEJ) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
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