On Sunday 3rd January 2021, a painful tragedy took place near the town of Mach, District Quetta, the Provincial Capital of Balochistan when unidentified gunmen stormed a coal mine, kidnapping 11 labourers who were working at coal mine. The labourers were at first recognized as belonging to Hazara community, later they were taken to nearby mountain with blind folded and were brutally killed. Soon after the attack, an armed group ISIL (ISIS) claimed the responsibility.
Ethnic Hazaras are Shia community living in Balochistan, who has long been persecuted for their belief facing targeted attacks and bombings in last two decades. Majority of Hazara Community live in Quetta with an estimated 500,000 Hazaras as most of whom live in two well-guarded enclaves on either end of the city of Hazara town. After this dreadful tragedy which took place on Sunday, the community of Hazara with dead bodies of their loved ones have been observing sit-in along with their men, women, children babies in such extreme rough weather refusing to bury their loved ones unless the culprits are arrested.
Hazara Community have continuously been targeted in the name of sectarianism since many years. This incident is a chain of previous targeted attacks. In April, in a market suicide bombing killed 18 people, half of whom were from Hazara community. In 2013, three bombings killed more than 200 people in Hazara neighborhood in Quetta. In 2012, more than 400 people of Shia community were killed in target killings and bombings making it possibly the bloodiest year in living memory for the Shia population in Pakistan. On the evening of January 10, a suicide bomber targeted a snooker club frequented by Hazaras in Quetta. Initially, seven people were killed on stop, after 10 minutes, as most of the people rushed to help the wounded people, another car bomb blasted just outside the club killing more than a dozen.
People of Hazara community in past have proved their sublimed patience in several peaceful protests from time to time expecting for justice from the Government. After this attack, whole community has been observing sit-in protest since last three days in freezing temperature. Their demand is to take serious steps to stop target killing, arrest of perpetrators immediately and assurance of their rights in the state. In addition to this, our media is also not paying much attention regarding coverage of their protests. International humanitarian Organizations have also been condemning this genocide of Hazara Community from time to time.
Government and security agencies should pay more serious attention and take strict actions to control the sectarian strife in the name of targeted killings of Hazaras for their faith, as they have suffered many such tragedies. In addition to the Taliban Groups and Separatists Baloch groups, there may be external factors involved in sectarian target killing. This is the time to take immediate action to overcome the sectarian issues, delay at any stage may result in overwhelming civil war within the country.
Ali Gul Leghari-Johi