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Hazaras targeted in Pakistan due to govt's anti-Shia militancy Hazara Community
Image: Tufail ALi Rizvi Twitter page

Hazaras targeted in Pakistan due to govt's anti-Shia militancy

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 16 Jan 2021, 01:30 am

Islamabad: The targeted killing of Hazara community members in Pakistan is a reflection that the state was simultaneously allowing anti-Shia hysteria to be propagated across the nation, The Diplomat reported.

Leaving the nation shocked, eleven coal miners from Hazara community were killed in a brutal attack in Balochistan last month.

The community members protested for days, highlighting their plight.

To make the situation rough, Pakistan PM Imran Khan even levelled the protesting Hazara members as 'blackmailers'. The protesters refused to bury their dead until Khan visits them to hear their demands for justice and security.

Protesting with unburied coffins has become a means of expressing outrage against the state for the Shia Hazaras, thousands of whom have been targeted and killed since the turn of the century.

The Hazaras, rooted in Uzbek-Turkic ancestry with a vast majority adhering to the Twelver Shia sect of Islam, have been victims of ethnic cleansing and pogroms in the region for almost two centuries, since they were recruited in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842), The Diplomat reported.

The Af-Pak border became the multipronged corridor for Afghan jihad in the 1970s and 1980s, giving rise to, among other jihadist groups, anti-Shia outfits like the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). These groups enjoyed Pakistan’s patronage, as the state also allowed itself to become a battleground for the Saudi-Iran proxy wars, the newspaper reported.

That sectarian warfare fast metamorphosed into anti-Shia pogroms being carried out by jihadist groups proudly owned by the military and intelligence as “strategic assets,” an array of non-state actors designed to cause disruption and destruction in the region in line with a Sunni Islamist narrative, The Diplomat reported.

As Pakistan saw its worst bout of terror in the following decade, so did the Hazara population, with back-to-back Quetta bombings at the start of 2013 killing at least 165. From 2012 to 2017 over 500 Hazaras were killed in terror attacks in the capital of Balochistan alone; over 2,000 Pakistani Hazaras have been killed since 2004, the report said.

While the target killings of the Hazaras continued last year, the state was simultaneously allowing anti-Shia hysteria to be propagated across the country. From the Punjab Assembly passing the blatantly anti-Shia Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam (Protection of Foundation of Islam) Bill in July to permitting anti-Shia rallies in urban centers like Karachi, the state was bystander at best, and accomplice at worst, in gory Sunni supremacism, the newspaper reported.

Speaking on the role played by Pakistan Army, the newspaper reported: "The Pakistan Army has also actively deployed groups like LeJ to counter Baloch insurgency. Furthermore, given the jihadism long endorsed by the military, there are many sympathizers of anti-Shia terror outfits within the Army ranks as well."

In its opinion piece, The Nation newspaper reacted to the killing of the community and Imran Khan's 'blackmail comment and said: "A word like blackmail convinces me time and again how our PM’s recklessness, even if rooted in good intentions, is always causing so much damage and hurting the sentiments of others."

"Hoping some sense prevails and Khan Saab thinks twice before blurting out his thoughts at a state level and more importantly, in situations like these," the opinion piece read.