Hazaras under attack in Quetta


By Malik Siraj Akbar

The Hazara tribe in Balochistan numbering around three hundred thousands is living these days under unprecedented terror, uncertainty and insecurity. The members of the tribe, who have lived in Balochistan for more than a century, have been facing discrimination on the basis of their different ethnic background against the majority Baloch and Pashtoon tribes and their religious affiliation. While an overwhelming majority of the Hazaras is Shia Muslims, their fellow Baloch and Pashtoon neighbors in Quetta, on the other hand, are Sunnis.

In the recent months, the Hazaras in Quetta have come under fire from some militant religious quarters. More than a dozen of Hazaras have lost their lives in the past two months in Quetta. Divergent reasons are given for these ‘target killings’. An underground banned Sunni organization the Lashkar-e- Jangavi has accepted responsibility for the murder of the majority of Hazaras in Quetta. Initially, many believed that Lashkar’s war was solely against the Shia religious scholars but they had to review their opinion once Hussain Ali Yousafi, the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), a secular and democratic leader, was gunned down in Quetta on January 26 for which the Lashkar too claimed responsibility.

Syed Nasir Ali Shah, a Hazara member of the National Assembly, says that these attacks are not Hazara-specific. Instead, they are religiously motivated. In his views, the recent cycle of target killings has been unleashed by the forces who want to convert Balochistan into Swat and make it a Talibanised province.
“Those who are carrying out these assaults are trying to create sectarian disharmony in Quetta city where differences could break up between the Sunni and the Shias given the fact that two ethnic majorities belong to Sunni sect,” he points out, adding that the target killings are meant to widen the gap between the Sunnis and Shias and Hazaras against the local Baloch or the Pashtoons.

Historically, Nasir recollects, Quetta had always enjoyed tremendous communal harmony. When the Shias used to take out their religious processions in the month of Moharram some decades ago, the Sunni young and old fellows used to jubilantly go on the top of their houses, shops and plazas to view the procession with unflinching excitement.
“Sunnis and Shias in Quetta lived like brothers in the past. There were no differences among them. I am a Hazara but my father struggled on the platform of the Awami National Party (ANP) of the Pashtoons and extended support to the Balochs fighting for their rights,” Nasir added.

Attacks on the Hazara Shias started first during the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq and continue till today. For instance, on July 6, 1985, the military government of General Zia-ul Haq forcefully tried to stop a Shia procession in Quetta city. The incident led to the killing of 30 persons, including some policemen.

In 2001, eight Hazara-Shias were killed when their Suzuki was ambushed on Poodgali Chowk. Another 12 Hazaras, all police cadets, were gunned down on June 8, 2003 while on their way to a training centre near Sariab. On 4 July, 2003, in one of the worst sectarian assaults in the history of Pakistan, some 58 people, most of them Hazara Shias, were killed while around 200 were injured when a suicide bomber attacked Imambargah-e-Kalan in Quetta. Another 38 persons, mostly Hazara Shias, were killed in a sectarian assault on March 2, 2004. The incident left 200 people injured. On 19 July, 2008, Nine Hazaras were killed in Quetta in a clash between the police and the Hazara protestors. Hence, violence continues unabated in 2009.

In his seminal book “War and Migration”, Alessandro Monsutti, classifies the Hazara migration to Balochistan in the following phases:

From 1878-1891: Following the second Anglo-Afghan war, the first Hazaras came to Quetta to seek employment in British-run companies under the Raj. They are thought to have worked on the building of roads and the Bolan Pass railway as well as enlisting in the British army of India. At that time, there could have been no more than a few hundred Hazaras in Balochistan.

From 1891-1901: The subjugation of Hazarajat by Abdur Rahman, between 1891 and 1893, triggered a mass exodus of Hazaras to Turkestan, Khorasan and Balochistan.

From 1901 to 1933: The situation in Afghanistan returned to normal under Habibullah (1901-1919), the son of Abdul Rahman. He offered amnesty to the Hazaras but this proved to be of little help in improving the lot of the Hazara community in Afghanistan. In 1904, the 106th Pioneers, a separate regiment for the Hazaras formed by the British, offered greater careers prospects, social recognition and economic success.

From 1933-1971: The regiment of Hazara Pioneers was disbanded in 1933. Deprived of this social and professional outlet, Hazaras went to settle in Quetta between the 1930s and 1960s, although the process of migration never completely dried up.

From 1971-1978: Following the 1971 drought, Hazaras then settled in Quetta or went to Iran in search of work. Between 1973 and 1978, tensions over the Pushtunistan issue between the Daud government and Pakistan were an additional factor in the Hazara migration.

After 1978: Following the Communist coup in April 1978 and the Soviet intervention in December 1979, the migratory movement assumed hitherto unprecedented dimensions.”

Abdul Khaliq Hazara, the secretary general of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), which was founded on 7 July 2003, told this writer that sectarianism in Quetta gained momentum during the regime of former President Pervez Musharraf. “We are a liberal, secular people. Hazara community, however, entirely comprises of Shias. Now, some ‘invisible forces’ are trying to target our democratic leaders on the simple grounds that our religious affiliations coincide with Shia Islam. These people consider us a threat before them because we preach tolerance, liberalism and co-existence in our Hazara communities against the agenda of Talibanization, sectarianism and intolerance pursued by the sectarian elements,” he remarked.

Another Hazara leader from the Pakistan People’s Party, Jan Ali Changazi, who is presently serving as the minister of quality education, is very skeptical of the provincial police towards arresting the actual culprits of the Hazaras in Quetta. Despite being a part of the provincial cabinet, Changazi told this writer that he had no qualms admitting that the provincial police had “utterly failed” to bring the culprits to book.
“The most irritating thing is the drama the police keeps staging every time soon after a terrorist attack takes place in the provincial capital,” complains Changazi, “in the first place, the police gives a safe passage to the real murderers and arrests the innocent people in order to show that it is acting against the terrorists and then releases them the next day by saying that the arrested people included none of the actual culprits.”

Changazi points out a notorious criminal Usman Saifullah, who reportedly heads the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Balochistan, was deliberately helped by the government functionaries to escape from an Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF) jail on 18 January, 2008. Saifullah, who comes from Kurd Baloch tribe, is believed to be involved in an attack on a Shia mosque in Quetta in 2003, which killed 53 people, and killing of 13 Shia cadets in Quetta. He was arrested by the police in June 2006 from Karachi. However, the young militant, in a death row, stunned everyone when he managed to escape a Quetta jail. Since then, he is at large. Balochistan department of home and tribal affairs has been continuously advertising in the local Urdu newspapers seeking public assistance for information about Saifullah in return of a bounty of Rs. One million in return of any information about the missing militant.

A young Hazara journalist working in Quetta told this scribe that the unabated target killings of the Hazaras and the inability of the police to curb the sectarian crimes was exceedingly affecting the educated young Hazaras. Disillusioned over the state of affairs, he informed, most of these Hazaras were now packing their bag and baggage to leave this country and permanently settle in Australia, where a considerable population of the Hazaras have already sought political and religious asylum.

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8 Responses to “Hazaras under attack in Quetta”
  1. assalam u alaikoom bradar jan azeez, first of all i would like to thank you for spreading the news to people, before reading the stuff on this page i only new a little about hazaras in quetta but now i’ve learned much more and i really thank you for it. keep up the good work and may inshallah someday quetta jaaan qand returns to its normal harmoniouse situation.
    long live hazras

  2. Syed Imran Abid Gilani says:

    Ya Ali Madad

    You khow y hazaras under attack because they are not united against the terrorists.

  3. Juma khan says:

    Sallams 4 all Hazara!
    its a matter of pride dat you are spreading the cruel situation happened on Hazara community in Pakistan. I heartedly pay you my salutations and regards. HDP might be the only political Party which can finish this cruel situation happening on Hazara people, in case if the people show their gratitude and full support. HDP can bring PEACE and BROTHERHOOD if Hazara people show them their Unity and Faith……
    I personally am very happy to know dat Hazara generations are trying their best to RAISE THEIR VOICE AGAINST CRUELTY & UNJUSTICE.
    WITH U in OnE WoRLd > > J.K “adeeb”

  4. noyan hazara says:

    salam,bohot khoshi howi aap ka tafsili mazmon par kar…k aap ne ek haqiqi journalist hone ka haq ada kar diya he….quetta me aap jaisa journalist dondne se nahi milta..alah aap ko zindagi de….jaha tak hazara qawm ki baat he aap achi tarah samaj sakte he bohot sari khobiya rakne wali ye qawm siyasat ke maidan me peche reh gayi he…hazara maashire per firqawarana chaap ziyada nazar aata he jis ki bonyadi waja inqilabe iran ke baad khomaini ki shieyat ki tabligh ti jo pakistan me shia state ke motalibe or pakistan me shsdid firqawana jango per montij howi….hazara be irani asro rasokh se aazad na hosaka..or quetta semet pora pakistan os dawran arab irani nationalism ke procsy war ka shikaar howa…hazara qawm bonyadi tor per seculer qawm he k is qawm me suni b he ismaili b…is qawm ko is ke apne molao ne hijace kiya….ab ye qawm siyasi toor per mosalah ho rahi he..or chahti he k shehr or sobe me bayi chare ki fiza qayim ho…ye qawm bi baloch qawmi masle me apna hisa dalne ki koshish kar raha ha,,or chahti he k baloch jadojihad me os ke ham awaz bane ..is ki misal H.D.P he…..

  5. arzoo ali says:

    i my self is hazara nd now adays the condition is vry bad for hazaras

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks by sharing such important information about hazara situation in quetta,as i read the textes i feel much sorrow to cry but why should i??? here in pakistan government is dieing it s death ,here is no heart be burn for us, there superego has died, they live like they are animal with no feeling.
    here my suggestion is to think over situation again and again to find out a great solution ourself till we dont take any bruetal action against this miscreant people will not get our head up from this target killing .Do care of your self my hazara brother no one would care you till you dont be a lion.once you become a lion other dogs will care you by themselves ,if not even there dogs will kill you like lion.

  7. Anonymous says:

    All this bloodshed must be stopped, traget on the basis of ethnic background, language, relgion, whatever must come to an end. Just think what we are giving to our future generations. The world in making enormous progress and we are going taking steps back to stone age.

  8. arif hussain khan hazara says:

    hi to every ond..1st of all i thank 2 da respectfull journalist who shared the cruelity on innocent hazaras and proved his brotherhood with hazara nation..as you all better know about unjustice behave on hazara nation in quetta city..we are facing a big trouble from taliban and itz groups like lashkar e jangavi,sipah e sahaba n al_qaeda..they are killing just because of these that we are shia and a true and faithful muslim.what is our fault? just these that we want peace,love and brother hood in the city?? they beleive on god and on its prophet but how they forgetted the saying of prophet(p.b.u.h) that all muslims are brother with each other? they and we the both accept allmighty god,prophet,holy book quran and islam.than who gave them the right to us unmuslim or kafir? they call them jahahadi.what does jahadi mean? jahadi means a real muslim who fighat against those who are against islam and muslims..another thing a jahadi cant war hiddenly on his enemy instead he open challange him on battle field. they are just deceiving them selves because they are not a muslim,not a human.they are such an animal who dnt have mind n dnt have feelings.we are been killing because we are the lover of ahl e baith..imam hussain got murtyred on karbala by the hand of yazid because he was a personality who was having love,peace and love of god in his holly heart and tounge.that day imam hussain a.s was murtyred but till now his name is alive in the world.we are also the follower of that great personality and itz proud for us to get murtyred in the way of him..from karbala till today you yazidi dogs doznt stop our azadari and our way.by proud we can face your cruelity and terririsom because we dont have fear from death..we will colour black your face in these world as well as other world..how many shia boys you will kill? from every home 1 shia will come out to face u..we proud 2 a shia n u should shame on u to call your self a muslim

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