Every time a member of the Hazara community is killed in a sectarian attack, Hassan Ahmed’s thoughts go back to when he saw his father lying lifeless, in blood-soaked clothes, years ago.
“I had prayed that the 2003 suicide attack at an Imambargah in Quetta in which my father was killed be the first and last one,” he said, as he sat with hundreds of protesters at Karachi’s Numaish Chowrangi. “But the attacks did not stop. In fact the recent Quetta blast is the height of brutality. Our people were killed inside their homes at Alamdar Road. We have no future here.”
As Hassan’s eyes filled up with tears, the young media sciences student vowed to leave Pakistan forever at the first opportunity he got. But after a series of increasingly frequent attacks on the Hazara community, he’s not the only youngster thinking that he can no longer live here.
“Every Hazara house in Quetta has either sent at least one of their members abroad or wants to send one now. In Quetta, it is not the death of 100 people but of 100 families. We have no choice but to move out now,” said thirty-year-old Yousuf, holding a banner which read ‘Hazaras are humans.’ Since Saturday afternoon, Yousuf has been part of the demonstration, sitting outside on the road, listening to Nohas, praying for the deceased and demanding the handover of Quetta to the army and the resignation of the Balochistan government.
After moving from Quetta to Karachi for studies a few years ago, Yousuf still feels unsafe – Shias are targeted all over the country. Human rights activists say that since 2000, more than 10,000 Hazaras have fled the country.
“There is no escape here in Karachi or back home. Our features give us away. Our graveyards are filled with bodies; we don’t have the strength to bury more people now,” he added. The protester said that he will apply for a visiting visa to a foreign country and then seek asylum in another.
Another youngster, Mujtaba Hussain, who lost his classmate Sher Ali in the recent Quetta blasts, feared for his family which is still living in Quetta. “We are patriotic but we have our families to be worried about. My brother can’t step outside from his home,” he said. “What kind of life is this? It would be better if everyone moves to Australia like many of our community did. At least we would be alive then.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.
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