M. Shah Jahan
According to the Article 9 of Pakistan’s Constitution “no person shall be deprived of life and liberty”. Article 25(1) of the Pakistan’s Constitution states that “all citizens are equal before law and entitled to equal protection of law”. However, people are killed on religious basis which seems violation of the rule of law.
There has been persistent wave of targeted killings of the Shia minority in the country, particularly in Quetta, Balochistan. Hazara Shias have been going through sectarian violence since 2000. The daily life of Hazaras begins with one killed and one injured by extremist people. They are highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks because of easily recognizable physical appearance and owing to this they are soft target of militants.
There is not a single family in Hazara town that may have not lost at least a loved one in the genocide perpetrated against them. A horrific report released by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) on 20 March, 2018, disclosed that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents in Quetta during the last five years. However, figure is probably higher than what was shared by NCHR.
According to an independent study, more than 2 thousand have been killed and more than 7 thousand paralyzed so far in bomb blasts, suicide attacks and target killings. Hundreds have been died on boats going to countries like Australia and other parts of the world while thousands are still in detention camps. Due to the death threats, they are seeking asylum and migrating to other countries. So far 70,000 people from the community have migrated. Rest of the community members cannot rescue themselves because of financial constraints.
Let me quote heart-wrenching lines by victims of terror: “I can’t even go to the market to buy vegetables or sugar without fearing for my life so I take what I get within a one block radius, however overpriced and whatever the quality. It’s like living in jail.” “Travelling even a few kilometers has become a risk, but we have to earn to survive”. “We are tired of carrying the dead bodies of their loved ones,” “The only reason we are leaving is for our survival”.
In addition, parents do not let their children go to schools, colleges or even universities because of constant fear. Resultantly, literacy rate is drastically falling. What is more shocking is that they do not even have safe access to hospitals. One can imagine how fearful the situation there is! Sadly, mainstream media does not cover the community’s grievances.
Hazaras feel pessimistic about their future in Pakistan because of unabated violence in Quetta. Members of this community have been on the streets demanding their basic right to live. That faith-based persecution and sectarian attacks should be stopped; a shift in policy on state level is need of the hour.
The violation raises serious questions about the government’s assertion regarding peace and security situation. Government should take ethnic community into account since they deserve equal status and protection as per constitution.
Violence against peaceful Hazaras should be included in national policy debate. Being a signatory to the UDHR, it is the moral and constitutional responsibility of the Pakistan government to give them protection, respectable status and dignified treatment. I hereby request to civil society members, intellectuals and writers to come forward and highlight this serious human rights issue.
The writer is a social worker and can be reached at: