The Persecution of Hazara Shia in Balochistan

Last week, three Hazara police constables were killed. Syed Mehdi and Shaukat Ali were targeted in Nawa Kili, while Jawad Hazara was murdered on Spini Road, all within a span of 24 hours. In retaliation, the Hazara community gathered at the western bypass of the city and blocked it. The three Hazara people were not killed in a family feud or an old enmity, and neither is it the first incident of its kind against the Hazara community of Quetta; the Hazara have long been suffering this barbarianism.

The attacks on the Shia community point to religious intolerance, ghettoizing thousands of people into their homes because of their faith. Their freedom of mobility is squandered after the attacks. The community asks: ‘Why are we being persecuted even after being driven out of our city?’

They did not choose to live in Hazara town or Alamdar road, rather, were pushed to those areas, having been barred from Quetta. The recent attacks may still worsen the lives of the Hazara residents of Quetta, who are already living in a state of limbo during this genocide, facing constant threats to their safety in the midst of an uncertain future. Most of the Hazara youth is unfamiliar with the larger city, never allowed outside of their homes. Doomed to spend their entire lives in Hazara town, Mariabad, or Alamdar road, Their only sin is being born a Shia.

In 2013, a bomb blast on Alamdar Road killed 126 Hazaras. In 2018, human rights activist, Jalila Haider started a hunger strike, demanding justice to Hazaras and stop the Hazara genocide. They were promised protection but neither has the brutal massacre of the Hazara community ended, nor the struggle of the activists for a just future.

According to a human rights report, in 2018, at least 509 Hazaras were killed and 627 injured. Similarly, in 2021 ISIS killed 10 coal miners, to protest which the Hazara community held a protest and refused to bury their dead until heard. A week passed in vain, when the then Prime Minister Imran khan accused the protesters of “blackmailing”. The callous response leaves a gaping question: who will provide justice if the Prime Minister feels blackmailed by innocent victims?

The perpetual silence of those in authority can only be interpreted as a failure to acknowledge this sectarian war against the Shia community. For the last three decades, The responsible people of the state have failed to provide justice to the victims, with minorities being openly targeted in each city of Pakistan, every single day. This religious genocide cannot continue to be tolerated any longer.

Moin Kakar is a student of Journalism in the University of the Punjab.