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Islam and Sectarianism ( 21 Oct 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hazara: Another 'Abandoned' Community

By Khaled Ahmed

Tentacles of terror

On 20 September 2011, at least 26 Hazaras were shot dead execution style in a Baloch-dominated area of Mastung/Luk-Pass near Quetta. Armed terrorists intercepted a bus en route to Taftan, border town near the Iran border, singled out all Hazara men, and shot them dead. Terrorists stayed at the scene for 10 minutes firing with AK-47's to ensure no one survived. Terrorists ambushed and killed several Hazaras rushing to the scene to ferry their loved ones to the hospital. The Hazara travel far and wide looking for employment and that includes Mashad and Tehran.

If Pakistan succeeds once again in controlling Afghanistan, the Hazara of Central Afghanistan should expect genocide

A few weeks before the massacre, a sectarian organisation had circulated an open letter addressed to Hazaras in Quetta. Written in the Urdu language, the letter stated:

All Shiites are worthy of killing. We will rid Pakistan of unclean people. Pakistan means land of the pure and the Shiites have no right to live in this country. We have the edict and signatures of revered scholars, declaring Shiites infidels. Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shiite Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission in Pakistan is the abolition of this impure sect and its followers from every city, every village and every nook and corner of Pakistan.

Like in the past, our successful jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta, is ongoing and will continue in the future. We will make Pakistan the graveyard of the Shiite Hazaras and their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. We will only rest when we will be able to fly the flag of true Islam on this land of the pure. Jihad against the Shiite Hazaras has now become our duty.

If there ever was a sign of the demise of the Pakistani state it is the killing of the Hazara community of Quetta. The Hazaras, after getting killed like flies, are asking a question that no one busy rebuking the world for finding fault with Pakistan can answer. The extremism of blasphemy law and the killing of Ahmadis is a national death-wish, but what is the killing of the Hazaras? In Punjab, the government is scared of losing vote, and its leaders fear personal attack from the erstwhile non state actors killing Christians and Ahmadis. In Quetta everyone including the executive is scared of protecting this luckless community numbering nearly 600,000.

What Pakistan is doing to the Hazara of Quetta is nothing short of ethnic-cleansing

Their fault is that they are Shia and their historical origin is Central Afghanistan known as Bamyan, but they have lived in Quetta for centuries. Their other fault is that that they are businessmen and shopkeepers which makes them more elevated in intellect than their Pashtun tormentors. In Kurram they are known are Turis and have been there for centuries. They have some capacity to fight back there but the state of Pakistan has abandoned them to the Taliban and local Sunni rivals, turning a blind eye to the fact that their road connection with Pakistan is no longer free of hazard.

The Turis of Pakistan's Kurram Agency also took no part in the Pak-sponsored jihad and were attacked in 1983, marking the starting-point of the sectarian conflict in Pakistan. Today Turis of Parachinar in Kurram Agency and the Hazaras of Quetta are bearing the brunt of Sunni-Pashtun reprisal. And if Pakistan succeeds once again in controlling Afghanistan, the Hazara of Central Afghanistan should expect genocide. What Pakistan is doing to the Hazara of Quetta is nothing short of ethnic-cleansing. The killers announce loudly that they are killing them because they want to exterminate them to earn Paradise.

This is the underside of Pakistan's military vision. It sees Afghanistan through the Pashtun goggle and that means letting the Shia be put to the sword. This is how Pakistan has survived in the past and this is how it is going to survive with the doctrine of strategic depth. The Hazaras are the burnt offering Pakistan's military thinkers are offering to the holy investors of jihad sitting in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This is the small print in the contract under which Pak Army and Saudi Army have been exercising in Jhelum. The Saudi aid that will rescue the state of Pakistan from collapsing is running parallel to the private Arab funds that flow into the coffers of the Taliban and their master Al Qaeda so that they can hurt Iran by killing the Hazaras of Pakistan.

Pakistan is in denial about there being an Afghan Shura under Mullah Umar in Quetta and it doesn't matter if this denial is proved false on a daily basis. The Hazara have to pay for the acts of omission and commission of their co-ethnics in Central Afghanistan in the recent past. Organised under their militia Hezb-e-Wahdat, the Hazaras allied with the Jumbish militia of Dostam and Hezb-e-Islami militia of Hekmatyar. In 1995, the Taliban conquered Kabul and captured and murdered the great Hazara leader, Mazari. The Hazaras then fought on the side of the Northern Alliance against the Taliban who visited on them the cruelty to forget the scourge of Mongol hordes.

Because of persecution, the Hazaras of Quetta allowed themselves to be ghettoised, which is a step in the direction of easy killing. All of them moved to Hazara Town which is divided into nine blocks, and almost all the houses are made of concrete. They can speak Urdu but they are originally Persian-speaking. They have, in contrast to other Afghan groups, actively invested in education. The Hazara community is the most educated community in Balochistan. Some 50 percent of the position holders in the matriculation and FA/BA exams are from among them. Hence the visible presence of Hazaras in the civil services, police, the IT market, small businesses and other professional sectors in Balochistan.

In 2003, in one of the worst sectarian assaults in the history of Pakistan, some 58 people, most of them Hazara Shias, were killed while around 200 were injured when suicide bombers attacked Imambargah-e-Kalan in Quetta. Another 38 persons, mostly Hazara Shias, were killed in a sectarian assault on March 2, 2004 on the day of the Ashura. The incident left 200 people injured. Just before the 2003 attack, Quetta city was flooded with leaflets containing fatwas from the country's top-most ulema, declaring the Shia an apostate community. The 2003 massacre was preceded by widespread circulation of anti-Shia fatwas in Quetta, branding them murtad or apostate, a designation normally deserving death in the eyes of the pious Sunni Muslims.

GEO TV (12 September 2003) had TV host Hamid Mir interviewing the imam of the Hazara Imambargah at Quetta where the Shia community had been blown up by suicide bombers. The imam said the attack was carried out by sectarian terrorist groups and this information had been given to the administration in Quetta.

The All Parties Conference (APC) which recently handed over a rapidly Islamising Pakistan to the Army did not have a clue what it was doing except purging itself of its rage against the United States, India and the West. The politician had no idea that the Army was India-centric and was incapable of tackling the problem of extremism started by it under General Zia. General Kayani should have stood up and refused to take the responsibility to tackle a problem he has no inclination to confront. Indeed, he is disinterested in taking power and toppling governments but he should have stated clearly that problems such as Hazara-killing would continue as a part of anti-Americanism and the doctrine of strategic depth.

The Hazara leaders of Quetta claim that nearly 600 members of their community have been killed since 1999.

The News of 7 October 2011, reported that over 13,000 members of the community lived in Karachi, 600 in Hussain Hazara Goth, where the imambargah is located. Rickety roads and mud-plastered houses surrounded the slum while increasingly the inhabitants feared for their lives. One said, 'We are being targeted because extremists want to eliminate Shias. Also, our community, especially in Balochistan, is among the most literate and educated. They envy us. Our people are in the police, government and everywhere. Out of the four female pilots, one is from our community'.

Source: The Friday Times, Lahore