The recent killing of 10 Shia Hazara miners and the lack of sympathy expressed by Pakistan’s prime minister is not just sad, it is tragic as it shows a pattern of behavior where Hazaras have never really been treated fairly by the Pakistani state.
In a long column, veteran human rights activist IA Rahman notes that “The Hazaras have been targeted for years. To regain the vastly marginalised community’s trust, those in power need to send a firm message.” Over the decades 1500 Hazara Shias have been killed and no culprit arrested.
He refers to the 2013 disaster when “an explosion inside a snooker club in which two persons were killed. In a second explosion, 84 persons in the crowd that had gathered at the site of the incident were killed. Eventually, the casualties increased to 93 killed and 300 injured.”
Rahman notes that normally “governments build upon their past experiences or learn to avoid administrative mistakes and to shun sterile policies.” However, in this instance “The response of the present government to the horrible butchering of 10 coal miners raises questions about its capacity to comprehend the gravity of the matter. The culprits had challenged the law and the authority of the state. It was not an issue between the Hazaras and some criminals; it was a matter that directly concerned the state. Regardless of the feelings of the victims, the state, which meant the provincial and federal governments both, was duty-bound to offer a befitting response.”
Rahman notes that “Under the security arrangements devised for Balochistan, it is the federal government that is in the driving seat. For this reason too, the prime minister has a special obligation to ensure that his wards do not continue to pay for officialdom’s incompetence, or sloth, or sheer meanness.”
Finally Rahman asks “the privileged people of Pakistan should stop pitying the population of Balochistan in general, and a vastly marginalised community that the Hazaras have been turned into, and treat them as equals in a shared struggle to ensure due respect for the inherent and inviolable dignity of the human person. Whether Islamabad likes it or not, the ball will, for a long time, lie in its court.”