The capital of troubled Balochistan, Quetta was closed on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15, 2012. This time the call for protest was not given by the Baloch separatists but by the minority Shia Hazara community.
In the recent past, targeted violence against the Hazara community in Balochistan has increased. In the last 9 days, 30 Hazaras have been killed. Banned sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has taken responsibility for the latest attack. Last year Lashkar-e-Jhangvi distributed pamphlets threatening Hazaras to leave Pakistan by 2012.
Hazara People blog writes:
It is systematic genocide in the complete silence and negligence of international community. There are over 600,000 Hazaras living in Pakistan. They migrated from Afghanistan in 1880′s as a result of persecution by the Afghan ruler Amir Abdul Rehman Khan.
Why aren’t the authorities taking action against the militant groups who are openly attacking the Hazara community? Journalist and blogger Amir Saeed answers the question at Guppu.com in this way:
Baluchistan is bleeding. The massacre of Hazara community continues with complete impunity while the most intriguing is the eerie silence prevalent in the corridors of power – both at federal and provincial level. Perhaps, it is not on agenda of political bigwigs to speak for the community and do something viable to protect them from extremists and bigots having a field day in the province. The role of security agencies is also dubious but ‘fortunately’ they operate under civil authority.
Baloch journalist and blogger Malik Siraj Akbar also points finger at the Pakistani authorities for not taking action against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
The persecution of the Hazara community is unlikely to end in the near future until the Pakistani security establishment fully abandons its covert support to Sunni fundamentalist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. There is ample evidence of contacts between the Pakistani authorities and these terrorist groups. In addition, the legislature, judiciary and the executive branches of the government have still not included the plight of the Hazaras in national policy debates.
Rafia Zakaria in her column calls it a dark Spring for Hazaras. They are caught between the fire and the frying pan as the International community only knows the Baloch separatist movement.
For the Shia Hazara of Balochistan, who are seeking not independence but their rights under the Pakistani constitution, the dearth of local sympathy and the brashness of global generalisations have colluded to produce a landscape where hope seems as elusive as justice.
Topics like #ShiaGenocide, #Hazara and #Quetta were trending on Twitter in Pakistan on Saturday. The main discussions were focused on whether to call the events ‘Shia Killings’ or ‘Hazara killings’.
@Hazarapatriot (Ali Hazara): Sad – people are debating on killings to call it Shia killing or Hazara killing. Ask the victim families if it matters for them.
@Baqwaas (Baysharam): It is not a ShiaGenocide or a SunniGenocide. It's Human Genocide. #InterFaithUnity
@Chiltan (salma jafar): #Shame on those who gave ethnic color to #Shiakilling in Quetta. Due to which 100s of innocent Baloch arrested /victimized
Many condemned the killings and accused the right wing Sunni religious groups:
@alisalmanalvi (Ali Salman Alvi): Atrocities on Shia Muslims are not restricted to a specific locality. Mosques are spewing venom against Shias, Ahmadis & other minorities.
Leading Hazara activist M. Saleem Javed tweeted:
@mSaleemJaved Hazara protester: ‘We are anti-Taliban and we will remain so, even if nobody remains alive.’ #Quetta #Pakistan
There were country wide protests by the Hazara community over the weekend but mainstream TV channels and radio didn’t touch the issue extensively. There was hardly any participation from other groups of the society.
@beenasarwar (beena sarwar): Ignoring peaceful protest also sends the msg that if you want to make the headlines, be violent and loud #shiagenocide #pakistan #media
@Razarumi (Raza Rumi): 2) Mainstream media black-out of 000s of Shiite Muslims who have been protesting aganst Shiite killings in Gilgit,Chilas Karachi and Quetta!
The Baloch tweeples criticized the Punjab for being quiet.
@BalaachMarri (TheBaloch): Punjabi media actors playing it smart on Twitter. Condemning the terror attacks but reluctant to speak against the attackers.
@gedrosian (Gedrosia): #Balochistan is at war , #Pakistan is too blind by it's fashion week #hazara #baloch