Pakistan, or at least a portion of its people, is in a shocked uproar yet once again over the mindless killings of Hazaras.
The recent blast claimed lives of over fifty people including women and children of the Shiite Hazara community. A community which is much targeted. They were under attack almost a month ago as well in Pakistani city of Quetta claiming lives of almost 91 people.
More than 550,000 Hazaras live in Pakistan, with most of them settled in Quetta. They are mostly refugees who have fled Afghanistan.
The systematic killing of Hazaras began almost a decadeago. It started with targeted killings of the prominent political and social leaders of this community. The target killings compelled Hazaras to hasten for ghettoized living in two exclusive areas of a cantonment city. The very areas now are the most vulnerable and easy targets. The situation is so bad that now Hazaras no longer feel safe even going about their routine lives. But for lack of a choice, they must.
In 2012, more than 400 Shiiteswere killed in target killings and bombings, making it possibly the bloodiest year in living memory for the Shiite population of Pakistan. The Hazara are being specifically targeted as a result of the fact that they are ethnically distinct.
Until recently, most of it went on without much response from either the government or the civil society. For many, these were isolated incidents that did not affect them. But the repeated acts of violence and their growing frequency is no more something that can be over looked. People simply cannot look the other way and go on with their lives like nothing matters.
This time over, though not only Quetta, where the incidents happened and frequently take place, but cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi are also resounding with protests.
People of Karachi, a city of mix ethnicity, and frequent sufferer from violence and loss can feel the pain more vividly according to Mohsin Sayeed, a journalist and human rights activist.
The most recent attack at the Hazara community, so soon after the last one, and despite the promises of the government and judiciary to ensure security; has prompted people to come out on streets protesting against the killings as well as demanding justice and security.
The Hazara community in Quetta has also once again refused to bury their dead, giving a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to arrest the killers. And to bring in the army – which was their demand when the last attack took place.
Apparently if there is one component missing from the equation is the government and its inability, or rather lack of concern on the issues appall people.
Severalsit-ins were staged in nearly 28 spots of the port city Karachi – the financial hub, as well as other cities of Pakistan. Streets are abandoned, incidents of mischief are rampant, what is missing is an appropriate response from the government as well as any worthwhile coverage from any of the local channels.
What took to make a sound and a sound worth hearing was the people coming out on streets without any social, sectarian or ethnical discrimination and demanding justice and security for all!
People came out protesting while others brought them food and water all with no sound or sigh from the government.
Anyone who needs an update or news relies on the internet and social media. People are frustrated and at the end of their patience and with no hope from the government and the leaders, who they have tried and found lacking time and again, they feel rightfully so.
We belong to a country where Valentine's Day is more condemnable than the Brutal Killing of Innocent Shias.#ShiaGenocide— Syed Haider (@mehsoore) February 19, 2013
I am not a shia but I am not prejudiced against religion. I condemn #ShiaGenocide. These people are from amongst'us' so are 'we' next?— Hira Jamil (@HiraaJam) February 19, 2013
I'm nt a part of Hazara comunity,Im nt a Shia membr. Im a human n a Muslim.I feel for every innocent bein killed on this earth #ShiaGenocide— Neha Khan (@amarbail1) February 19, 2013
@idkasuri We in Karachi are used to govts not helping but making matters worse. So we do not even look towards any. Since 1985— Mohsin Sayeed(@MohsinSayeed) February 18, 2013
The Supreme Court announced to take notice of the killings of the recent attacks on the Hazara community in Quetta. While the Supreme Court and the federal government decide to take some steps on their part, Shia Hazaras protesting against a devastating attack on their community refuse to budge until the army was deployed in the city.
Despite a sustained, targeted campaign of killings against them, Pakistan's Hazara Shiites have been left out in the cold, fending for themselves and the people of Pakistan know the feeling just too well.
It is probably that unites them right now, knowing justice and security will not come from where it by all means should. They have come out demanding their most basic rights knowing in their hearts that the government will not do any such thing.
The people have unfortunately gotten too used to the government not doing anything. They see the government as nothing but an opportunistic elite class ruling over them for their personal gains. Not many people expect the government to do anything worthwhile. With the track record of this government and most of the previous ones, they cannot be blamed.
So, they have taken things in their own hands, they have decided to stand up against violence and atrocities and demand justice and the freedom to life and security.
How that bides for the ruling party or the other political parties of the country is not a pretty thought-especially with elections just around the corner.