Connection Between the Pakistani Military And Hazara Killings in Quetta
“I dont hold anybody responsible for the brutal murder of my sister, but the provincial government and the Pakistani military spy agency, ISI”, says Yazdan Salimi, a young Hazara man whose sibling was among the victims of March 29 terrorist attack in Quetta on a Suzuki van carrying Hazara commuters from one part of the capital city to another.
“People at the helm of affairs in the North Western Balochistan province of Pakistan need to be brought to dock and made accountable for their failure to provide security to ethnic Hazara minority in the capital city”, adds Salimi who is one of the thousands of the Hazara asylum-seekers who have left the Pakistani city of Quetta to take refuge in Australia due to fear of ethnic and religious persecution. Salimi mourned the death of his sister in an Australian detention centre for asylum-seekers with great despondency as he feels sorrow for being unable to see the dead face of the victim before she was laid to rest.
Like Salimi, there are hundreds of other bereaved Hazara families who have lost their loved ones in the terrorist attacks in Quetta over the the past fourteen years. These families are still waiting for the perpetrators to be nabbed and convicted. But, for them, it seems to be a forlorn hope as the government of the day in Pakistan is still unwilling to act effectively to preclude what most of the members of the affected community describe as the “systematic genocide of the Hazaras”.
The current situation in Quetta is no less than a nightmare for the Hazaras who have never experienced such worst days in their whole life span even since their migration from Aghanistan to Pakistan over a century ago. Life has come to a standstill for the Hazaras in the city due to incessant targeted attacks on them by the terrorists who are hounding this ill-fated community across the city with full passion. The Hazaras are unable to move around the city to earn livelihood by attending their offices and visiting their business outlets. They have stopped sending their children to schools and colleges. Thousands have fled abroad to save their lives. Terrorists are enjoying a free hand and full impunity to gun down the Hazaras at the places of their own choice anywhere in the city.
The latest series of the targeted attacks on the ethnic minority, which began on March 26 and continued till April 14 without any break, rendered more than thirty members of the community dead. The easy escape of the culprits from the crime scene after every incident has posed a big question mark to efficiency and performance of the thousands of the law enforcement agencies’ personnel deputed across Quetta city for security reasons.
The provincial government, which according to Balochistan governor, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, is mainly made up of the ministers involved in heinous crimes like murder, robbery, drug trafficking, arms smuggling and kidnapping for ransom, seems to be least bothered by these killings. Its interest to protest the lives of the Hazaras can be well-guaged by the statement of the chief executive, Nawab Aslam Raisani, wherein he had made a mockery of the bereaved Hazara families by offering to send them a truckload of tissue papers to wipe off their tears.
The provincial government’s apathy to the Hazaras’ killings in the capital city imply that the culprits are too powerful and influential to be managed by the government. Whose support are these culprits enjoying then which is even more powerful than an elected government? Those who have some knowledge about the Pakistani politics are very well aware of the fact that the civilian government is unable to deal with only those elements which bask in the sunshine of the omnipotent military establishment. Thus, Pakistan military’s involvement in the Hazaras’ killings can not be ruled out. The circumstantial evidences also corroborate this presumption.
What advantages do the Pakistani military establishment want to take from the Hazara’s killings is the question which calls for an answer. After the ouster of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan back in 2001, Pakistan military has been making strenuous efforts to regain power in the war-torn country as an attempt to prevent it go under Indian influence. To achieve their ulterior goal, the Pakistani military Generals started to support and patronize with more zeal the religious extremist groups like the Taliban’s Haqqani Network and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi by declaring them as their “Strategic Assets”.
By targeting the Hazaras in Quetta, the Pakistani military establishment want to pressurize the Hazaras in Afghanistan to step bending towards India along with their partners in the Afghan coalition government and side with Pakistan instead as a tug of war to hold sway on the neighboring country is supposed to commence between the two arch rivals soon after withdrawal of the Allied forces from Afghanistan in 2014.
Given the dirty politics and bloody strategies of the Pakistani military establishment with respect to its neighboring country there seems a little chance for the Pakistani Hazaras to heave a sigh of relief in near future.
In the meantime, there also falls an onun on the international community and human rights watchdogs to take serious cognizance of the Hazaras’s killings in Quetta. They need to take up the issue with the Pakistani government and exert all their pressure to force the security establishment of the country to apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous crime and to provide the Hazaras with the right to live with peace and tranquility.
Amjad Hussain, a native of Quetta, is a freelance journalist. Between 2001 to 2011, he worked in Quetta and Islamabad as a reporter for Dawn News and the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more articles by Amjad Hussain