One does not know what is more shameful. The consistent manner in which members of the Shia Hazara community are being killed or the neglect of the government, which stays aloof. Thursday’s attack on the Shia Hazara community is not the first of its kind. In fact, the killing of members of the Hazara community has been conducted under a plan over the past couple of years with several killed in different attacks – targeted killings, bomb blasts and other means. But no one has been convicted for these heinous crimes.
As a result, we are seeing the exodus of one of the country’s most talented communities. Hundreds of young men are setting sails for Australia and other parts of the world, most of them illegally, knowing fully well that many would die during the journey. They say there is nothing for them in Pakistan. And given how things stand, they may possibly be right.
Their pleas go unheard. Their murderers are not arrested. The militant group that attacks them and proudly claims that it does so, continues to remain unhindered. They kill at will, without any check. The government has failed miserably to arrest those behind the killings. They say that they arrest the killers but these people are let off by the courts. The courts say that the police have not done its homework and there is not evidence to convict. The government blames the courts and the courts blame the government. In the meantime, more members of the Hazara community and others get killed.
Over a hundred people died in an attack on Thursday but not one minister or government official took time out to visit the bereaved families. Let alone the president or prime minister, even the provincial chief minister or other ministers did not share the grief of the families. If they cannot provide protection, the least they can at least come and share their sorrow. There is a lot of grief in the Shia Hazara community but also a lot of anger.
Fed up with government indifference, the grieving families decided not to bury their dead and demanded that Quetta be handed over to the army as the civilian administration had failed completely. This is a fact that the Balochistan Governor himself admitted when he said that they had lost the right to rule as there was no form of government present in the province. The chief minister and members of his cabinet are cooling their heels in Dubai and other climes while the people of the province at left at the mercy of terrorists. Many of the Balochistan’s ministers are seen in Karachi most of the year where they and their spoilt offspring are a nuisance in their big cars and bigger guards.
One wonders what the government was doing at the time of the attack and after. It could not stop the consistent attacks and the baiting that is done by terror outfits. It could not come to the aid of those who were injured. It could not come and grieve with those whose near and dear ones were killed. And it was not interested in trying to prevent further such attacks.
President Zardari and his cabinet was busy in what they saw as a matter of greater importance – staving off Tahir ul Qadri, an otherwise unknown cleric, who seems to have caught our political leadership napping. Simply by saying the right things and launching a march to Islamabad, he has upset the great democratic government which supposedly owes its strength to its popularity amongst the people. So shaken is the government by Tahirul Qadri that it has drafted in thousands of law enforcement personnel from other provinces to save its seat of power. Maybe it would have made more sense to deploy some of these personnel for the safety of the Hazaras.
The media is no better. Instead of focusing on the genocide that is taking place in our midst, we continued to highlight the long march, which may be important but not as important as the killings we have suffered.
Instead of catching the bull by the horns, we continue to ignore the problem. First the Ahmadis were attacked. Then members of other religious communities. Now it is Muslims of different sects. What next? When will we wake up from our slumber and realize that unless we deal with this problem, gradually no one will be left alive or unaffected in this great country of ours.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.
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