Shia-Hazara professionals under threat in Quetta


By Malik Siraj Akbar

QUETTA: Sectarian target killing of Shia professionals continued in Balochistan’s capital Quetta on Tuesday after unknown motorcyclists gunned down the senior vice president of the Jamori Watan Party (JWP) along with his driver, police confirmed.

According to the details, another Persian-speaking Shia, Dr. Aslam Mirza, who was also the senior vice president of the Jamori Watan Party (JWP), was killed by unknown attackers in Quetta city along with his driver. Police said the slain doctor had just come out of a local poultry form in Akhtarabad area of Quetta when unknown motorcyclists opened fire on his car with AK147. The bullets hit Dr. Mirza on his head and body while his driver, who was identified as Gul Faraz, also received injuries on his head. Both the victims breathed their last on the spot.

“We strongly condemn the killing of a nice human being and committed political worker,” Shahzain Bugti, the provincial president of the Jamori Watan Party, told this scribe. He said JWP was the only Baloch nationalist party that accommodated the non-Balochs as well. The provincial government had failed to check the growing lawlessness in the provincial capital. “We will protest on the killing of our party leader on every platform. The provincial government must punish the elements involved in targeted killings. Currently, there is no writ of the government present in the province,” he added.

Shahzain also said that he would take up the issue with Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani because the whole of Balochistan is presently in the grip of lawlessness and target killings.

Police said it was hunting for the culprits who killed Dr. Mirza but was still unable to make any headway in the murder case. Targeted killings of members of the minority Hazara and Shia communities have once again intensified in Quetta city. It was the third murder of a Shia professional in a period of two weeks.

On October 2, a senior Shia lawyer Vilayat Hussain had been target killed in Quetta city which led to the boycott of the courts’ proceedings by the lawyers in Quetta in protest. While the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court Fiaz Essa had issued directives to the provincial police to bring the murderers to justice, no breakthrough has been reported on the part of the police.

In a similar case of sectarian target killings, Balochistan’s Chief Mines Inspector Ashraf Ali was killed outside his office in Quetta on October 12. The police has equally been clueless about the killers of Ali.

The killing of the Shia-JWP leader comes a day after the issuance of a statement by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in which the prime human rights body regretted the growing number of target killings against the Hazaras in Quetta city.

In a statement issued the other day, the HRCP had said an additional factor for insecurity and tension in Balochistan was the uninterrupted sequence of sectarian killings for the last six years. Quoting the representatives of the Hazara community, the HRCP said 270 members of the Hazara community had been killed since 2004.

Jan Ali Changazi, a Hazara minister in Balochistan government, told this writer that he believed the provincial government had failed to curb target killings of the Hazaras in Quetta city even after the deployment of the Frontier Corps.

“The Hazaras are being punished for being peaceful people. A Hazara lawyer was killed two weeks ago in Quetta. We have been raising the issue with the chief minister again and again. Unfortunately, the police have completely failed to deliver,” he added.

Changazi, a minister from the Pakistan People’s Party, said a mere increase in the number of forces would not stop target killings until the police and other law enforcement agencies started to operate effectively. He called for all members of the Balochistan Assembly to unite and address the issue of law and order. “These killings should not be considered only the “headache” of the Hazara community. We have to unite to bring to justice the elements that are ruining the peace of Balochistan,” he suggested.

It is interesting that those in the government as well as in the opposition equally believe that the Balochistan government has utterly failed to maintain peace in Balochistan and surmount the cases of target killings. On its part, the provincial government does not have the moral courage to at least accept moral responsibility for these cases that take place due to its negligence and bad governance.

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