by Daily Times

A genocide has been underway in this country of Shia Hazara community. Dozens have been killed, and countless displaced from their homes, forced into exile to ensure their safety. Our state institutions have failed miserably and multiple times to uphold their constitutional duty to protect Shia Hazaras’ lives and properties. It isn’t as if the killers of the Hazaras are unknown to our security agencies. Its an open secret that takfiri militants associated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an offshoot to Sipah-e-Sahaba, are behind these killings. The question is: why there hasn’t yet been a crackdown on the LeJ to dismantle its organizational structure? Since the LeJ is a banned outfit, and its association with terrorist acts against the Shia Hazara community is well established, there is absolutely no reason why there must be any delay in a country-wide operation against this outfit like the one carried out against Tehrik-e-Taliban.

The community has been facing a genocide that has only gotten worse over the last decade. In 2013, Quetta’s Alamdar Road witnessed a historic display of resolve and perseverance when members of the persecuted community refused to bury over 100 Hazaras who lost their lives in a bomb blast. The peaceful protesters included many youngsters who had grown up surrounded with death and grief. They stayed outdoors for four days and nights, with the bodies of their loved ones, until governor’s rule was imposed in the province with an assurance that things will change for the better. The state reneged on its promise as the killings and attacks continue to this day.

Sunday’s killing of a Hazara man and his nephew has led to another peaceful protest led by a formidable Hazara activist, Jalila Haider. She has announced a hunger strike till the authorities wake up from their slumber and take notice of the community’s plight. She has demanded that the Chief of the Army Staff must come to Quetta to personally assure the families of the deceased that security agencies would take action against the perpetrators. That would be the least the COAS, or any other authority figure, for that matter, could do for the community.

Quetta and much of Balochistan has been under the de facto control of security agencies for many years now, because of ongoing efforts against an ethnic insurgency. It simply does not add up that our security agencies are incapable of dismantling the sectarian outfit’s infrastructure in the province. Whether its our agencies’ inability or inaction, the delay in concerted efforts against LeJ has brought many from the Hazara community to the point where they are now asking questions about the agencies’ intentions. All these persecuted Hazara citizens are asking for is bare minimum security of life. If the authorities can’t figure it out for themselves, let us spell it out for them: security of life is the absolute minimum that they are required to provide to be able to claim even an iota of legitimacy among the Pakistani people. For their own sake, they must go against the LeJ and all the other sectarian militants so that they can restore their respect and legitimacy among the Pakistani Hazaras.  *

Published in Daily Times, April 30th 2018.

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