Hazara Shias lose all hope in Pakistan

Published: December 31, 2012

Muslim groups demonstrate against the Taliban killings of Shias in Pakistan December 7, 2012 during the "10,000 Souls March" in New York. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: 

Shabana Khan* speaks from behind a screen put up to protect her identity at a recent women’s assembly. I cannot see her. I do not know what her age is. I have no way of observing her non-verbal communication. But what I do know is that this is a person in pain. Intense pain has resulted in eloquence as well as a defiant, almost rebellious fearlessness. She is a young woman from the Shia Hazara community and lives in Quetta. This is an excerpt of the story she tells of herself and her community:

Death is waiting around the corner. Before that, I must share what it means to be a Shia Hazara. Today, I am going to share a bit of my story – the story of me and my people. When one of us comes in front of you, you mostly label us Chinese or Korean. Our complexions are not like yours, neither is our race or genetic composition. We are the ‘others’. And our pain is that of the others. We are Pakistanis but not considered a part of you. Very few will raise their voice for us, even when 27 of us are taken off a bus and are shot and killed just because we are Shias. Just because we have Mongol-like features. Just because we migrated here from Afghanistan.

What is our crime, I still don’t understand. We pay taxes. We make useful things out of spare parts. We want to be peaceful contributors towards the progress of our country, Pakistan. We dream of a beautiful Pakistan where all sects and ethnicities work together towards a common goal.

But what is the reality? How many of you can relate to 5 dead bodies being taken out of a house – father, brothers, sons. What do the women of that house go through? What is the future of these women? Of the Shia Hazara women? When they step outside the four walls of their homes once the men have been slaughtered, to earn a living because they have no other choice, vultures start circling. These are men who have been directly or indirectly responsible for lifting the roof off their heads. Responsible for killing the men in their lives. They offer help to these women in exchange for not cash but kind. I am one of those women.

As a girl from the Shia Hazara community, I know my life is forever at risk which is why I am hidden behind a screen for my safety as I speak to you. But trust me when I say that if tomorrow I am killed, my death will not make newspaper news unless a mass massacre happens.  Most killings of my community don’t make it to national news.Do you know

Why do you take each other’s pictures? Mementos? We, the Hazaras, now photograph each other knowing that probably these photographs, especially of our men, will be placed on their dead bodies during their funeral. The area of the Ganj-e-Shuhada graveyard for the Hazara community is being extended. More dead than alive. And the rest a community of the living dead…constantly living in a state of fear.

We are marginalized. As a working woman, I have seen better days. There was a time when I could travel to 30 districts, safely, even at night and my parents didn’t worry. Now, I  cannot walk even a kilometer down from Meezan Chowk to buy something I need. A Shia Hazara girl today cannot go till the Sariyab Road, Quetta, to the Balochistan University, to get an education. Do you know what it is like to live in a constant state of fear? To be surrounded by people who are also equally afraid? When fear becomes a way of life. Even if the sound of thunder or lightning strikes, we think someone is here to attack us. If a bus is stopped by the police for checking and we are on board, we are sure that this is it – that death has arrived.

These days when Shia Hazara mothers hand over chadars to their daughters when they are stepping out, they advise them to kill themselves in case someone approaches them with wrong intentions. To save their lives, our brothers flee the country as part of a mass exodus, travelling by sea, and many become food for the fish on way. Many are kidnapped in that dangerous journey, and then their families are asked for ransom. If they are lucky enough to reach Australia, they will never be 1st grade citizens of that country.

I often wonder why the contributions of my community are not mentioned in history books. Our ancestors may be from Afghanistan, but we have made contributions for Pakistan. Even today, Hazaras are a silent force, working towards a better Pakistan, peacefully and sincerely. We are doctors and engineers. If nothing else, we are labourers and janitors. We build your homes and lift your trash. All we ask for in return is the right to be able to live a peaceful life in this country we call our own. Is that too much to ask?

My mother always used to say ‘pray for your brother. Allah listens to the prayers of a sister for her brother’. But now I sometimes think none of my prayers are being heard.950

There used to be a time that my community was doing so well as traders and businessmen because of fair dealings. Hazara boys and girls got jobs easily because of their efficiency and integrity. Now, fear forces us to stay at home. Even going to the hospital for treatment is an ordeal. Our dead in hospital mortuaries are also not peacefully handed over to the families till their wives go and identify the bodies.  Even our children suffer. Look carefully at a Hazara child’s eyes.

We also have brave Malalas among us. But we are just not in the limelight.

People ask us where is your ghairat (honour)? Why doesn’t your community fight back? Whom do we fight against? Our ignorant Muslim brother who doesn’t even know why he is killing us? And we who are being killed don’t know our crime!

Political bigwigs have made statements saying ‘death is in Allah’s hands’. Why this fatalistic attitude only for the Hazaras? It is not so easy to accept the death of a little boy who dresses up for Eid namaz and goes but comes back home not alive but dead. Allah has every right to take our lives because He is our Creator. But murderers taking innocent lives, this is not by the will of Allah. This is tyranny. This is oppression.

In Muharram, our Sunni brothers used to set up sabeels for us when we mourned the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Now, since 2002, we mourn ourselves and lift our own dead and bury them ourselves. We no longer prepare jahez or baree. Because it is cloth for shrouds that comes by the yards.

When hope is lost, all is lost. The Hazaras are reaching that point where we lose hope permanently. Save us before that day comes.”

*Name has been changed

Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (45)

  • FJ
    Dec 31, 2012 - 3:47AM

    So sad my sister. Please rest assure that all shia community is united and InshAllah we will do something special for our Hazara brothers and sisters.

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  • kanwal
    Dec 31, 2012 - 5:25AM

    This country is paying the price of staying silent for too long when it came to persecuted minorities. That means e had to lose tens of thousands of majority’s lives in the last ten years. Still if we dont wake up, all will be over soon.

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  • wajid
    Dec 31, 2012 - 5:44AM

    Ethnic cleansing. Disagreement does not mean a license to kill.

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  • ali
    Dec 31, 2012 - 10:06AM

    @wajid: it means in Pakistan, we have created our own dictionary!!

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  • Ali
    Dec 31, 2012 - 10:42AM

    A muslim will never kill another muslim and minorities are very safe in Pakistan .it is a RAW,CIA,MOSSAD plot.

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  • Dec 31, 2012 - 11:51AM

    @wajid:

    I probably put this more in vein with sectarian cleansing and the on going Shia genocide. From another ET article

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/486423/only-those-who-are-above-the-age-of-21-should-be-allowed-to-change-religion

    These attacks are purely sectarian as no Sunni Hazaras are being targeted.

    According to the HRCP.

    But yes, ehtnically it has become disproportionate. Its not even disagreement any more. It is ideological insanity.

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  • HAZARA TIGERS
    Dec 31, 2012 - 2:19PM

    Dear Brave Sister of Hazara,

    We pay you tribute for your this coloum. We Hazaras, your brothers are still alive. Inshallah we will fight the enemies and would not bow down before any oppressors. We have learned this from our forefathers in Afghanistan. They never have bow down before the oppressor. The other example is our own forefathers, they left Afghanistan but never bow down before the than oppressor Abdur Rehman (Lain)

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  • Mehmood
    Dec 31, 2012 - 2:52PM

    It is the whole of Pakistan in dangers therefore the whole of Pakistanis should be concerned about their own not for any labels of minority or hindus or shais or baloch sardars or hazara presumed in one way and the other.
    But it is not possible for Pakistan to be aware of themselves not at least looking possible for now. Why this should be their concern when Government of Punjab has pushed them out of their province and shaking hands with Taliban brothers, why should they bother about it(If others are being butchered, then it is not a Pakistani matter,maybe someone near Afghanistan or Iran).
    Why to bother and have an study of it at all when a Quaid-e-Azam has been born in this soil, why at all, when for all sixty years that slogan of “Pakistan Zindabad,Pak Army Payindabad” is there to save them from every thing.

    These are your leaders who save their dear province and fire statement that those hazaras are praiseable how they bring it together with other communities of that province, these are your those Army who spare away this and that group and lashkars and and……. and wants to make it to its last and these politicians will make it once again in the elections if not then pak army paindabad. As a Pakistani I disown all of these, truthfulness is what I and those some of Pakistanis is what we persuade.

    The reality of Taliban, of militant groups,of Al-Qaeda to its very brightness exists, what your dear position is in the international community does exist to its worst, what that song of “Pak-Chen Dosti” might benefit nothing, So therefore dear all Pakistani! face the truth, strive for it, speak it for yourselves, speak it for each and every country, otherwise God might save but will He.

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  • Ali
    Dec 31, 2012 - 5:37PM

    Government and agencies were welcoming Hazaras, Afghan pashtoon refuges in balochistan to counter Baloch. Baloch are and were never agsinst any1 who were being planted in Pashtoon areas. even by force quetta demography was changed for strategic assets and depth. Now what happening in balochistan, one way or other it is directly game of those who were projecting them. Hazaras are assets for Balochistan, thy earn foreign reserve respect for Balochistan. but in a game they being killed by those who were giving them suport, CNIC , Pasports. In this regards, hazara community is well aware of everythingRecommend

  • musa
    Dec 31, 2012 - 5:39PM

    why only specifically point out Shias of Hazara community. yesterday 21 Levies troops died. during bilour’s assisnation 100s of innocent shias & sunnis died! the TTP is the enemy of ALL PAKISTAN not only Shias! stop spreading propaganda news! our President is a Shia no one mentions that do they?

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  • Khurram Malik
    Dec 31, 2012 - 5:40PM

    May be it will be true for Hazaras in Balochistan but i have met many in Lahore and they are living a happy life in Punjab with no discrimination what so ever and even some people think of them as Chineses and some of them actually do look like Chinese and that is added advantage for them in Punjab as Chinese are immensely respected there.

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  • FJ
    Dec 31, 2012 - 5:46PM

    @bigsaf: Hello Sir, where have you been? Always learn from your comments. Take care!

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  • zeeshan sheikh
    Dec 31, 2012 - 6:43PM

    I maybe wrong but it seems like Karma.
    Remeber Changez khan

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  • Chimichanga
    Dec 31, 2012 - 7:19PM

    Fight terrorism, shoot back.

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  • Mehmood
    Dec 31, 2012 - 8:25PM

    @Ali: There is no such thing like projection. They had entered the Sub-continent of that time under the British rule and authority, then that law about some Pushtoon tribes of Quetta and about Hazaras is written in the constitution which declare them Pakistani equal to every other Pakistani and may be kindly it is suggested to read about how problems of Balochs have been dealt, no such thing like projecting Hazaras or Pashtoons against them or else if you are suggesting for such thing then the establishment use some against the other in various ways, not such thing is true about your this assumption stated here.

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  • AH
    Dec 31, 2012 - 8:34PM

    @ Zeeshan Sheikh. You are definitely wrong, because if this was the criteria for Karma than we would all be dad by now.

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  • Z.Khan
    Dec 31, 2012 - 8:43PM

    An extremely sad but moving narration of facts. Salute to ET which at last dared to raise the voice of Hazara Shia. At this point it might look bit selfish but fact remains fact. Let me to say again very loudly it all started with the anti Ahmadiyya amendment in the constitution. That was the day when the seeds of discrimination between various Islamic factions were sown. Before this amendment Ahmadies were section of Islam while after wards not. When you start such discrimination on the basis of belief then there is no end of such acts. Taking advantage of anti Ahmadiyya law, minds of one Islamic group has so much been poisoned that now this group considers many factions of Muslims as infidels including Hazra Shia and declare them liable to be killed. This specific Islamic group is proclaiming itself the sole custodian of land of pure and wants to rule the country as per its own interpretation of Islam. After Ahamdies now this group has started target ting Hazara Shia en mass and I am sure next will be some other faction of Muslim not fitting in to the frame of its Islamic thinking.

    Majority of Pakistani society is sleeping and has assumed the role of silent spectator. This casual and couldn’t careless societal attitude is damaging whole social fabric of the society. Except for few news papers like ET, no segment or pillar of society is highlighting these aspects and gradually Pakistani society is reaching to a dead end. Remedy to any problem lies in correct diagnostic. Separation of state and religion is the only way out to bring back the societal harmony in Pakistan. Its founder declared this principle very clearly. Unless the nation will strive to rectify its foundation mistakes no light at the end of the tunnel will be visible.

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  • zeeshan sheikh
    Dec 31, 2012 - 8:57PM

    I am very sorry for the innocent killing of Hazaras.

    But I have a question why you people still consider, Changez khan a great hero who killed millions of muslims and created the minaret of muslim corpses.

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  • Mehmood
    Dec 31, 2012 - 9:08PM

    @Khurram Malik: So kind of them! They are so civilized, so constitutional who don’t discriminate may be Quaid-e-Azam has had visited them, if he has had visited them then might have forgotten to correct one them who has commented here that there is no such myth as true about their Chengezi race or such as chinese or Mughals, because these such things may be a part of pleasure but not a part of history and what is true as historical is that these Mughals and Mongols(who look like chinese,one of the chengez khan) are both the same race,link to each other from third offspring of their ancestors, Hazaras are not one out of them as all the races of the subcontinent and Pakistan are not Aryans.
    @zeeshan sheikh: And only Arabs and Bani Ishaq are ancestors of Islam, religion of others, of chengez khan of mughals of hindustani races all these Karma and this and that.

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  • Iftikhar Khan
    Dec 31, 2012 - 9:11PM

    @musa:

    Yes Taliban are the enemy of entire country and that is why it is even more important to stand with these most affected communities for the future safety for all of us. It is sad but your post is insensitive to the sufferings of these people we should be provide comfort to each other especially in the time of despair. It is in the news with the name of shia/Hazara/levies because the are being sorted among the rest and targeted. And this list will grow if we remain insensitive…..

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  • Mehmood
    Dec 31, 2012 - 9:16PM

    @musa: Yes! TTP burning down the whole of Pakistan, the whole of Taliban including this one is then a hot cup of tea for superpowers that’s why that education system and system of madaras should be a concern for each of us which bring so wide divide as shai sunni this and that and then handing them over the guns to amuse themselves.

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  • Dec 31, 2012 - 9:43PM

    @FJ:

    Thanks! Was bogged down, but a little freer now with holidays.

    @zeeshan sheikh:

    You are right….you are wrong.

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  • Dec 31, 2012 - 9:52PM

    @musa:

    Do you also go around on the Levies troops and Bilour’s assassination articles, which highlights overall religious extremism and terrorism, and complain about why the writers discuss about them?

    It is worse for minorities, killed in the 100′s and thousands disproportionately. The Shia Hazaras have been even disproportionately targeted compared to the rest of Pak’s population, including compared to Sunni Hazaras as mentioned above by HRCP in the link provided above.

    Please don’t downplay it out of sectarian resentment. This is the reality and trend, and being in denial would be dishonest. Just because Obama is US President, doesn’t mean that the African American community’s disproportionate problems magically disappeared.

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  • manish
    Dec 31, 2012 - 10:05PM

    @Khurram Malik:
    How would you feel that even after living in pakistan for generations,
    You are treated as a priviliged outsider.
    Just asking.Recommend

  • Dec 31, 2012 - 10:19PM

    sister, you are neither a christian to involve pope nor budhist to involve china nor hindu to invite india for condemnation. iran is a useless neighbour country of no help to you.

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  • babag55
    Dec 31, 2012 - 10:41PM

    what’s real frightening is that people do not seem to be very concern. There should be a lot more media coverage and protests. God help us.

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  • Vikrant
    Dec 31, 2012 - 11:49PM

    Whats the big deal here? This is all ethnic cleansing pure and simple. It happened to the Hindus between 1947 and 1955 (esp viz-a-viz Karachi and Hyderabad Sindh), then (attempted) Bengalis in 1970-71 that went horribly wrong (just ask the “great” Tikka Khan — the Butcher of Bengal!) and now it is happening with these people …. and tomorrow it will be the Baloch, then the Gilgiti Shias and then .. who knows perhaps Ahmediyas as well. Pakistan is only heading to become a “Pak” (i.e. “Pure”) nation — of what exactly? Only it knows… but will it actually SURVIVE as a nation? That is another debate altogether….!!!

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  • Haji Rafiq A. Tschannen
    Jan 1, 2013 - 1:00AM

    As some commentators correctly pointed out it all started with the anti-Ahmadiyya legislation and now has turned in an all out sectarian war. Consequently we have to attack the matter on its core and remove the anti-Ahmadiyya legislation from the Constitution. May be then Allah’s blessings will return to Pakistan.,

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  • FAB
    Jan 1, 2013 - 10:34AM

    May Allah give courage to common Pakistanis to speak and stand against this open brutality, barbarism and oppression. We all should remember we are answerable to Almighty Allah.

    Salam to my Hazara Sister.

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  • i.a
    Jan 1, 2013 - 12:21PM

    @akbarullah… its the matter related to the state i mean Pakistan’s govt to protect their citizens, if people just go for the races or the religions then its all in the end useless. The hazaras have the citizenship of pakistan neither of iran nor afghanistan. Why the govt not been able to enforce law and order situation, recently in mastoong a bus of zairien got attacked, many of them died, now u should ask iran to give them security way to their home because they are minority of ours but majority of yours …..

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  • HKhan
    Jan 1, 2013 - 3:17PM

    heart wrenching,

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  • HUM
    Jan 1, 2013 - 5:12PM

    @musa:
    Please learn to differentiate between indiscriminate bloodshed (terrorism) and Specific targeted attack because of beliefs. Shias are being killed for being shias. They are separated from the collection and then killed. Its not like sunnis are taken off a bus and killed for being sunni. So please spare us the surmonRecommend

  • John F
    Jan 1, 2013 - 9:49PM

    For a non-muslim it is confusing for me. If all Muslims are same then why cant the shias convert to sunni and save the aggravation to themselves? Same with Ahmedias. What happened to the ummah idea?

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  • Z.Khan
    Jan 1, 2013 - 11:43PM

    @John F:
    Various factions in religion Islam is normal phenomenon. It prevails in other big religions also including Christianity. Here core of problem is freedom of religious rights irrespective of the fact to which faction one belongs. Accommodation to others is needed in civil society of Pakistan.

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  • habib
    Jan 2, 2013 - 12:46AM

    A well written article. rich tribute for writer and ET. It can be observed, that there are fanatic and narrow-minded thoughts which want to impose their evil ideology on others.There is lack of tolerance, no respect of basic human rights.These superstitious attitude is not accepted in any human society, but unfortunately, We can understand that majority of people in Pakistan silently accepted it.Sick and biased society; people should proud of it.
    From Jakarta.

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  • Khalid
    Jan 2, 2013 - 2:19AM

    I am Sunni and from Karachi and have 2 Hazara friends settled in Karachi from Afghanistan. I am a kind of person to have social links from different religious and ethnic backgrounds despite of huge social, academic and religious differences. And I am impressed by Hazara community industrious and progressive attitudes. Their women are very attractive and smart.
    Indeed they are unique in figures and they should be; they are yet pure descended from mongol clans who are also proved to trace down their generations among Koreans and Chinese tribes.
    Whosoever doing this will never escape Allah’s wrath Inshallah. Pakistan is in extreme danger from these religious fanatics and terrorists who are getting financial support from both Muslim and non-Muslim countries

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  • j sarwar
    Jan 2, 2013 - 5:53AM

    We can not treat a desease unless the diagonosis is correct.We must accept that no one from out side is coming and killing Pakistanis. It is the Pakistanis who are killing each other due to hate based on language,sects and cutural difference.We must stop hating each other and tell others not to hate and dislike any human beings. The only way to save Pakistan from further disintegrations is to create more and more provinces. India has created and still creating more provinces due to cutural and administrative reasons.This the main reason for India being the thied largest economy in Asia.

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  • Abbas Mehdi
    Jan 2, 2013 - 11:24AM

    Dear Admin,
    Why have you blocked my previous post??
    Is that what you call freedom of speech??
    Let me share with all the readers that last night (January, 1, 2013) another Hazara was targeted in Mach, Balochistan. He was a generator operator in Mach jail and his dead body was brought to Nichari Imambargah, Alamdar Road, Quetta.
    Another innocent being fell victim to our Jihadi enterprise, his dead body was a sort of souvenir to our people for the year 2013. We bury our dead and our Balochistani and Pakistani brothers enjoy new year feast, cricket matches, TV talk shows and our ethnic cleansing means nothing to them because we are primarily ‘Hazaras’ first and then ‘Shia.

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  • Ali
    Jan 3, 2013 - 5:10AM

    My Dear sister.

    I feel your sorrow.

    I have lost many family members due to killing of innocent family members just because of their faith.

    You have 100% right to live in peace and harmony and citizens of Pakistan no matter what skin colour, ethic back ground you are from.

    Why was Pakistan created?
    So all Muslims can live together but unfortunately this is not happening. People who carry out theses targets killings are human or animals they are below both of them!!!

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  • ahsan shah UK
    Jan 3, 2013 - 5:17AM

    Raisani and Security agencies are responsible for this genocide

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  • Shabbir
    Jan 3, 2013 - 11:08AM

    Both Political and Security establishments are responsible for Genocide of shia’s in Pakistan….

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  • IsA
    Jan 6, 2013 - 7:59AM

    bad to worse to ugly and dirty…..further more to go….seems like we won’t learn the hard way either. now find someone to blame for our own blunder…oooh I see someone metioned raw, cia mossad….haahha

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  • Alfa
    Jan 7, 2013 - 3:32PM

    @zeeshan sheikh:
    Dear Brother….you are totally mistaken because you have been reading the history books written by those who were defeated by Changez Khan not by those neutral historians. Still there are examples and even movies on the web documented by westerners. Open your eyes. Listen from both sides and then judge.
    Thank you

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  • Adil
    Jan 13, 2013 - 4:49AM

    Such tragic words. Wish the events did not inspire such thoughtful insight and comments. That oft repeated adage of ‘and then they came for me, and there was no one……’ is becoming true in our society as one section of society after another is being targeted. Next it will be the various sects within the Sunnis – the Deobandis, Hanfis, Wahabbis etc. To think that most Pakistanis were okay when the Christians and the Hindus were being ‘cleansed’, now we will eventually ALL have to be spiritually and physically bathed, washed, cleansed and perhaps left untended, unburied like the hundreds of those innocents killed and injured in Quetta. Right now, sayings such as ‘ religion teaches us tolerance ….. ‘ and ‘ours is a religion of peace……’ seem like a sick joke. Words are indeed beginning to fail us and are slowly becoming obsolete and meaningless. What will we run out of first: humanity, bodies, empathy, opinions, life …….? Let’s hope it’s humanity first – then we just won’t care for our fellow beings. Take these animals’ example, they seem to sleep okay after their dastardly deeds, while the rest of us have sleepless nights, and stomach churning days. “Kaisay raat katti, kaisay din beeta, tu bhee bhulla dai, mein bhee bhulla doon, Kitna lahoo aankhon sai tupka, tu bhee bhulla dai, mein bhee bhulla doon…..”

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  • mmk
    Jan 13, 2013 - 12:48PM

    God help them. People are blind. so blind. they will regret it all…. in God’s time.

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