The systematic extermination of Hazaras
On Saturday the 16th of February 2013, a water-tanker reportedly went through an FC Check post situated on Kirani Road Quetta, Pakistan. After nearly 600 meters, the driver took a sharp right turn and entered into a heavily populated Hazara Town and detonated the water-tanker around 5:30pm (Pakistan time). A thick, noxious cloud rose into the air with an immense deafening sound, smashing nearby windowpanes, injuring mostly women. Upon hearing the blast, ghettoized Hazaras rushed to the scene where they unearthed the four markets adjacent to Kirani road along with an English Language Centre and a private school burnt to the ground. The ferocious fires, alongside the corpses of women and children was a scene that the survivors endured with excruciating difficulty.
When the dust settled, limbs could be seen strewn across the scene. The panic and helpless hysteria of the victims was making the situation far more difficult to confront.
Referring to the horrifying scene, Nayal a local journalist termed Saturday’s terrorist attack an ongoing “systematic extermination of Hazaras” that has continued for the past 12 years in Pakistan. Initially, 84 Hazaras were reported to have been killed; but local journalists are now reporting that 27 more Hazaras have allegedly disappeared due to the explosion. He also added that 17 amongst them were students under the age of 16 who were at school when the attack took place. Reportedly, the 1000 kilograms of explosives had thoroughly levelled the four double-story markets, along with the English Language Centre and a private school. The demolished walls, windows and doors of approximately 300 shops and 30 houses further added the overall accumulated damage.
After the January 10, 2013 blast, Kirani Road was put on high security alert as it is the only road which leads to Hazara Town. Everyone, including the Hazaras would have to go through scrutiny by the FC personnel to enter Hazara Town. He raised a question asking how a water-tanker laden with 1000 kilograms of explosives went undetected by the FC check post on Kirani Road, which killed a 100 innocent Hazara Shia and injured 200, permanently disabling most of them, a mystery that needs to be resolved as quickly as possible by higher authorities.
As usual, the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) accepted responsibility for Saturday’s deadly bomb blast in Quetta and vowed to continue its anti-Shia operations despite the governor’s rule or even if the military takes control of Balochistan. Earlier, on the 11th of January 2013, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, in its press statement warned the Hazaras of more attacks saying: “God willing now the LeJ will conduct similar attacks in 2013. The enemies [Hazaras] will not find ways to leave Balochistan [alive]”.
Law enforcement agencies despite knowing the threat posed by LeJ to the lives of Hazaras, did not make special security arrangements to avoid the many fatalities and innumerable injuries and left the terrorists to exercise full impunity and commit this massacre.
It is saddening to say that the Hazaras, after every blast, rush to the killing site, collect their dead bodies, most of the time in pieces, wash them carefully, put them in a clean shroud, bring their dead to the road and start a peaceful protest for justice, to let the civilized world hear of the horrible life they have faced for the last 12 years. While on the other hand, world leaders, including Ban Ki-moon despite being aware of the stark situation had clichéd condemnations read out by their spokespeople.
Very few media representatives take the issue seriously, the majority of the print and electronic media despite knowing about the depth of the issue, don’t seem ready to bring all those involved in the terrorist activities to light and anchors seem to be milking the strife of the nation simply to have something to discuss on the television. Except for a few members of the civil society who genuinely feel responsible and take to the streets, holding up placards, depicting demands and slogans in favour of the victims, they make speeches, chant slogans and express their genuine solidarity with the victims; however the majority don’t bother. In the meantime, political parties stick to their condemnation statements to express their solidarity with the victims’ families just to maintain their presence on the media. Human rights organisations’ strong words to the incumbent government seem genuinely to express their concern but what can they do except issue statements. Social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter fill up with the shocking news and videos to make the elite class and world leaders know about the persecutions of the Hazaras in Pakistan but these measures seem impotent and inefficient towards a pragmatic solution.
After 12 years, over 1100 Hazaras have been brutally killed and over 3500 injured. Just within the last 40 days, over 200 Hazaras have been killed and over 300 injured. Despite writing, reading and watching very closely their persecution in Pakistan, I’m not pessimist but just curious as to how long the international community will keep passively watching the Hazaras collect their dead bodies.
The writer is a freelance journalist and human rights activist based in UK. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.