Hazara killings in Pakistan: Crisis deepens

Written By: Shantanu Mukharji WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jan 08, 2021, 04.38 PM(IST)

FILE PHOTO: A member from Pakistan's minority Shi'ite Hazara community killed in Mach area of Bolan district, in Quetta Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Politicians and anti-government forces are continuing with scathing attacks on the government for its abject failure to protect the minorities -- especially in the matter of a sensitive province like Balochistan.

The January 4 grotesque killings of ten innocent Hazara coal miners in Pakistan have taken a sharp turn as the Imran Khan government is under immense pressure to tighten security.

On the other hand, the minority Hazaras are refusing to bury those murdered, wanting to have their prime minister to visit the scene of occurrence of this heinous crime. 

And the criticism over the entire situation is mounting every hour.

Politicians and anti-government forces are continuing with scathing attacks on the government for its abject failure to protect the minorities -- especially in the matter of a sensitive province like Balochistan.

The province is already reeling under spate of repressions and stifling of freedom of expression. The minorities are also being suppressed for their ongoing protests against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through their province. 

In an apparent bid to draw mileage from this ghastly act, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Vice-President, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz reached Quetta, contacted the kith and kin of the slain miners and stepped up their rhetoric against Imran Khan. 

As is known, these two opposition leaders and their political parties are part of the anti-government alliance which of late has been campaigning for ouster of the present government and the fresh Hazara killings have further fuelled their tirade. 

Launching a blistering attack against the government, Bilawal told the audience in Quetta that when in Quetta in 2013, Hazaras were killed by bombings, the PPP government had dismissed the provincial government for its laxity and lapses.

As many as 2000 Hazaras have been killed since 1998 in Pakistan and blatant discrimination against them in government jobs or societal standings continue to inflict them.

On her part, Maryam Nawaz conveyed her sympathy to the families on behalf of her father, Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in exile in the UK. The opposition, therefore, is losing no opportunity to capitalise on this burning issue -- thereby, putting Imran Khan on the backfoot. 

The garrulous and pompous minister for interior, Sheikh Rashed Ahmed,  had air dashed to Quetta to calm down the protesters but his assurances were of no help at all and in fact, proved counter-productive. 

Now, the affected are demanding the presence of Imran Khan to come and provide succour to the families. The dead bodies remain unburied despite calls by him to do so. 

There is complete defiance by the Hazaras, and their supporters and sympathisers.

Meanwhile, condemning the incident in the strongest possible language.

Nobel Laureate Malala Yusafzai also called upon Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Quetta and share the grief of the Hazaras. This particular outburst is likely to draw international attention as the global community sees Pakistan with suspicion for the country’s terror-linked activities as well as abetment to acts of crossborder terrorism in India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan will hence be seen in a dim light, bringing into sharp focus for its repeated failure to protect the minority. As it is, the recent vandalism in a Hindu temple in Pakistan has already exposed its hollow claims of ensuring security of the minorities.

In view of the increasing pressure on the federal government, Imran Khan, in all likelihood, will not be able to resist the pressure and will visit Quetta sooner than later to placate the aggrieved. 

In his wisdom, he should do it fast -- as his platter is already full with compliance of FATF guidelines, political opposition within, and numerous other insurmountable challenges including on the economic front, which do not seem to leave him soon.

(The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former national security advisor to the prime minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal.)

(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)

Shantanu Mukharji

The writer is a retired IPS officer and a Bangladesh watcher. He was also posted in Dhaka to oversee Indian security concerns.

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