The two young men, shot dead on Eid day on Sabzal Road in Quetta, add to a growing total of Hazaras killed in sectarian attacks. The police have no doubt this was yet another incident on the same lines. The youngsters, riding a motorcycle, were shot dead by assailants also on a motorcycle. There have been no claims of responsibility this time round, though in the past, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had claimed responsibility for carrying out the attacks, which have decimated the Hazara community, leaving 2,000 dead over the last decade.
An estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Hazaras live in Quetta, the largest concentrated community of the ethnic and sectarian minority in the country. A significant number fled to Quetta from Afghanistan, to escape persecution by the Taliban. Sadly, they seem to be no safer in our country than they were across the border. We have failed to provide them the protection they obviously need, despite the protests they have staged, the pleas they have made. Out of fear, the Hazaras have increasingly confined themselves to the Hazara Town area where the majority lives — but obviously, it is impossible to lead lives totally confined to a few streets and alleys. Some 10,000 Hazaras are understood to have fled Quetta since the killings began, many for destinations overseas. Many have died while making desperate attempts to reach foreign shores. For the Hazaras, there seems to be no escape from death.
We have allowed this situation to continue for far too long. It is, of course, a part of the wider sectarian hatred that has swept across our country. But it has inflicted immense pain on a small, close-knit and peaceful community. The two latest deaths will of course bring more misery to it, misery that will not easily fade away. For the immediate families, it will last forever — and we as a nation need to accept that each of these acts of violence is also leaving deep scars carved out across our society. We must take emergency measures to heal them before the wounds split us apart.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2014.
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