Several scores of Hazaras were killed in the Baluchistan capital Quetta city in the morning of April 12 when they had gathered from various far flung villages for vegetables and fruits' trading at a busy market place . Hundreds were grievously wounded when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), hidden inside a gunny bag supposedly carrying potatoes exploded taking heavy toll of innocents.
Hazaras continue to be Shia minority in Pakistan and are often fatally targeted being soft targets. Unfortunately, they meet the same fate in Afghanistan in the cruel hands of Taliban and other powerful sectarian forces who exterminate this minuscule and hapless isolated community.
Following this recent killing, Pakistan government is reported to have strengthened security and the safety of the Hazaras yet they don't feel reassured on what they describe false promises.
Chief Minister of Baluchistan province, Jam Kamal was quick to condemn the killings and subtly admitted that his government's project of Quetta being a safe city under the much hyped 'safe city' project has suffered a deadly blow due to the April 12 fatalities.
It is critical to remember that Hazaras , in the past too, had been on the receiving end with excesses perpetrated at regular intervals in various parts of Pakistan . Significantly, according to the statistics available with Pakistan's National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), 509 Hazaras have been killed and 627 injured from January 2012 to December 2017.
These five years' figures are startling and reveal the false government assurances given to the Hazaras for their safety and security. NCHCR is not yet ready with the casualty figures of 2018 but knowledgeable sources give out that they are on the higher side. This is indeed a disturbing trend meriting immediate redressal.
Also, a number of Hazara students have been victims of target killings and students allege that their protests with the college authorities as well as with the provincial administration have fallen into deaf years raising a strong possibility of more fatal atrocities in the future. Hazaras are lurking in an environment of abject fear.
As it is Pakistan's track record in protecting its ethnic minorities is abysmal showing the administration in very poor light. In addition to this, Baluchistan has already been a cauldron of violence due to multiple reasons.
A marked pattern of violence and 'free for all' atmosphere prevails dotted with a large section of people disgruntled due to Chinese presence in the region in connection with the Belt road project and long standing demand by the Baluchis for an independent state and also for more powers to govern as it is in a state of neglect and discrimination especially when compared to Punjab and Sind.
In the recent past, Hindus in Pakistan also drew a flak when two Hindu women were openly abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. Religious intolerance against minority communities like Hindus and Shias have become routine than exceptions.
Earlier, Sufi shrines were not spared by the zealots unleashing ugly terror linked violence. Its time Pakistan, in pursuit of its dream of becoming 'Naya Pakistan' sheds its medieval mindset, develop more sense of tolerance so that all communities live in harmony and peace.
The writer is a Delhi based security analyst and columnist on security related topical issues. Views expressed in the article are personal
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