It seems as if there is no place in Quetta safe enough for the Hazara community. They are targeted in mosques, religious processions, markets, their own neighbourhoods. On May 25, the community was targeted in three separate incidents in Quetta that left four people dead. The continued persecution of Hazaras has only brief pauses and despite the issue coming to light around the world in 2013, when over 120 people were killed in attacks on Quetta’s Alamdar Road, the killings of Hazaras seem to have become something of a routine. Sectarian violence goes on unabated in Pakistan. Since January, there have been sectarian attacks in Punjab, Islamabad, Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. No part of the country has been left untouched, with the most heinous of assaults being in Shikarpur this January that killed over 60 people.
At the same time, groups that had been previously spared from this massacre have now been added to the number of persecuted communities. The killings of Ismailis in Karachi earlier this month have opened another avenue of sectarian violence. Yet, we are told that a decisive counterterrorism plan is running successfully. The National Action Plan, constituted days after the Peshawar school attack, has failed to combat terrorism the way it should have. Apart from the execution of terrorists and the little headway made with regard to controlling hate speech, no other significant progress seems to be on the horizon. Just a day prior to the recent killings, the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, a banned organisation, held a rally in Quetta. The impunity with which these groups function highlights how serious authorities are in battling the problem. There has been an exodus of Hazaras from the country, which comes as little surprise given the dangers they face. They have been risking their lives, leaving their families behind and taking the long boat journey from Pakistan to Australia in hope of survival. One wonders when their safety will become a matter of priority for the powers that be.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2015.
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