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Posts Tagged Frontier Corps Balochistan


 January 21, 2013.


Abdul Khaliq Hazara

Editor’s note: In the backdrop of increasing attacks on the Hazara, Shia community in Balochistan, The News on Sunday published an exclusive interview of Abdul Khaliq Hazara, the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party. We are republishing the interview, which was conducted by journalist Aoun Sahi,  for our readers’ interest with special thanks to The News on Sunday

The News on Sunday: Do you think imposition of the governor’s rule in Balochistan would help the cause of Hazaras?

images-61Abdul Khaliq Hazara: In fact, imposition of the governor’s rule was not a demand of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP). We are not in favour of army control in Quetta.

However, after the killing of 100 people on Jan 10, our ulema and elders demanded the governor’s rule. The main purpose of this demand was to get rid of the Raisani government in Balochistan. We want a targeted operation to be launched in Quetta under army because we do not trust police and FC.

Quetta is a small city. If the army is serious it can locate and arrest the terrorists in Quetta within a week. Our main demand is that the government should establish its writ in Balochistan.

TNS: Your views on the targeted killings of the Hazara community…

AKH: We do not see targeted killings in their current context, where a particular mindset, with support from provincial government and the elements of state security agencies, kills Hazaras. The targeted killing is also a product of failed policies of the state as successive governments were reckless in the last three decades in the region. Pakistan’s role in the Afghan jihad in the 1980s, when the state promoted ‘jihad’ in the country and sponsored terrorist groups, resulted in numerous problems. It gave rise to the Kalashnikov and drug culture in Pakistan. Quetta became the hub of these activities in the last three decades because of its geographic position. Today, we are reaping the results of those policies.

The Hazara community in Quetta is concentrated on its western and eastern sides. We need to travel thorough the city to go from one side to the other. The first incident of targeted killing happened in 2001 when terrorists attacked a van, killing 10 Hazara passengers. Again, 12 Hazara police cadets were gunned down when terrorists attacked their vehicle in June 2003. The first suicide attack against the Hazara community occurred in July 2004 when terrorists attacked a Friday congregation at Imambargah Kalan. In 2008-09, attacks against our people increased and then from 2011 onwards our people started getting targeted inside the city. Doctors, professors, students, businessmen and sportsmen have been targeted and killed. The motive behind these terror acts is simple — push Quetta into a hell of sectarian violence as all Hazaras in Quetta belong to the Shia sect. So far, more than 1000 Hazaras have been killed in Balochistan in the last one decade.

In September 2011, the buses in Mastung near the ancestral village of ex-CM Balochistan, Aslam Raisani, were stopped and after checking their ID cards, 26 of them were killed on the spot. In April 2012, more than 30 Hazara people were targeted in 10 days. In 2012, more than 120 Hazara people were killed while in the first 10 days of 2013 more than 100 Hazaras have been killed. Everybody knows the killers as they do not hesitate to claim responsibility. After the last incident, in which more than 100 people of our community were killed, LeJ phoned journalists in Quetta and openly claimed responsibility. They said they had asked Hazaras to leave Quetta by the end of 2012 or they would be wiped out.

TNS: But why are Hazaras under attack?

Tear_drop_by_JosCos-1AKH: Hazara community in Balochistan overwhelmingly belongs to the Shia sect and they are also easily recognisable because of their features. It is true that after the Iranian revolution some elements among Hazaras and other Shia communities in Pakistan were enthusiastic about spreading their message. They tried to convert people from other sects. The ‘Saudi Arabia element’ resisted this move strongly and pumped in billions of rupees to strengthen anti-Shia forces in Balochistan. The first wave of sectarian tension in Balochistan started in the mid-1980s while the second started after 9/11. It was time when anti-Shia forces had become so strong that they could operate at their will.

We strongly condemn Saudi Arabia and Iran’s proxy war in Pakistan. It was the duty of our state to stop this war but, unfortunately, strong elements of state have become part of that war. Extremism, sectarianism, and terrorism are being promoted in Balochistan with the help of elements in our state institutions. On January 11, the LeJ once again threatened they would either kill or get killed to wipe out Hazaras from Quetta. The LeJ, in fact, wants to provoke us, so we start attacking our innocent Sunni Pushtun and Baloch brothers in Quetta.

TNS: How difficult is it for you to keep the Hazara youth peaceful?

AKH: Hazaras are peaceful people. It is true that after 2004 attack on a Shia procession, Shias also turned violent and burnt some shops. But there are other Shias than Hazaras in Quetta. We have Shias from different ethnicities from Punjabi, Urdu speaking, Pashtun, Balti, etc. We always tell our people that the LeJ and its supporters want to push us in a situation which leads to civil war in society. We still believe in peaceful protests.

After the January 10 incident, we had two sit-ins in Quetta — one at Alamdar Road while I, alongwith my party activists, demonstrated in the red zone, in front of the IG office. But not a single incident of violence occurred from our side. Most of our youth have been deprived of education; some of them have also started joining religious elements. People have lost their businesses and jobs. They cannot move freely in their own city. More than 30,000 Hazaras have already migrated out of the country. Parents have been forcing their sons to leave the country. Our PhDs have been working as labourers in Australia and other countries. Still, an overwhelming majority of our community believes in peace. We still want to solve our problem peacefully.

images-54TNS: You talked about involvement of some state elements. Do you have proof?

AKH: So far, more than 1000 Hazaras have been killed in Balochistan but not a single killer is in police custody. It arrested the masterminds of these attacks in the past, including the LeJ head of Balochistan, Saif Usman, and his deputy, Dawood Badini. Both were awarded death punishment from a terrorist court in 2003. They escaped from jail situated in the high security zone in Cantonment, Quetta. Even when they were in jail, they were treated like special guests and allowed to carry on their activities from jail. The performance of the Interior and Home Secretaries, IGP Balochistan and heads of other law enforcement agencies are abysmal as they have failed to provide protection to the people. People have lost confidence in police and other law enforcement agencies as terrorists always succeed in evading arrests. In several incidents of targeted killings of Hazara community, motorbikes of local police were used while many of the attackers were in FC uniforms. They attacked people close to FC checkposts but were never apprehended. I strongly believe that some elements in our security agencies help terrorists to identify the targets and then also support them reach their targets with ease.

TNS: What is the solution?

AKH: Our rulers and state departments need to take the situation seriously. They need to establish their writ. They need to give confidence to people — that the state cares about them. At one point our main demand was that our cases be pursued. I appeal to all the democratic, liberal, political and progressive forces to come ahead and perform their responsibility for protecting the society from falling into the brutal hands of extremists in the country. (CourtesyThe News on Sunday)

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The News on Sunday: Hazaras’ Thousand Woes



Hazara peopleBy Rahimullah Yusufzai

Pakistan has become a killing field of people from different communities in recent years, but one community that has suffered the most and has been singled out for target-killings are the Hazara Shias.

The Hazaras are a distinct ethnic group living mostly in Afghanistan and having a visible presence in Pakistan and Iran. Lately, a growing number of members of the community have settled in Western countries in search of security and livelihood.

The Hazaras have traditionally faced persecution at the hands of some Afghan kings, primarily Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, and other ethnic groups due to sectarian and ethnic reasons. They were originally living in central Afghanistan, but many had to migrate to neighbouring countries, such as Iran and undivided India to escape attacks. In due course of time, the Hazara community gained a foothold in Quetta by serving in the British army and doing other tough jobs. Soldiering has been part of the Hazara life and a proportionally high number having been serving in both the Afghan and Pakistani armed forces.

According to Professor Nazir Hussain, who opted for retirement as the first principal of the prestigious Government General Musa College, Quetta Cantonment in December 1995 after serving for five years, the Hazaras first settled down in the plain at the foot of the Koh-i-Murdar mountain range in Quetta and set up the Marriabad, named after the Marri Baloch tribe who were herders and lived seasonally in huts in the area. “The Hazara population grew after 1920s and from Alamdar Road, previously known as Barnes Road, to the lap of the Koh-i-Murdar houses were built across the mounds and seasonal streams. It was known as Ward No 7 of the municipality and was sited close to Quetta Cantonment. It later became part of the provincial assembly constituency, PB-2 Quetta, from where Hazara candidates have often been elected,” he explained.

Prof Nazir Hussain said new colonies of the Hazaras, such as Gulistan, Brohi (Brewery) and Hazara Town also sprang up and members of the community with money mostly sent from abroad were able to buy or build houses there. He said Hazara refugees from Afghanistan, too, settled in these new colonies and many used Quetta as a staging point for migrating to some Western country, mostly Australia.

Hussain said until recently the Hazaras lived in peace achieving the highest literacy levels in Balochistan and prospering as businessmen. “We had excellent ties with the Pashtuns and Baloch. It was during the General Ziaul Haq era that his policy of segregation brought a change in the situation. Now we are suffering from social anarchy and the Hazaras in particular are living in “Jewish ghettoes,” he remarked.

Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, the extremist Sunni militant group banned by the government in 2002, has been claiming responsibility for the attacks against the Hazaras primarily due to the fact that they are Shias. Like the other outlawed militants groups, it has managed to operate and carry out attacks by selecting its targets at will.

Analysing the situation, a Hazara elder Air Commodore (Retd) Shaukat Hyder felt many hands were involved in the violence raging in Pakistan and directed at the Hazaras and others. He said the names of certain institutions were also mentioned, but it would be incorrect to do finger-pointing without evidence. “Nobody knows who is fighting whom and at whose behest in these battles of proxies. But we know that the Hazaras have been mercilessly killed and still there was no reaction by those with power to protect them. There was controlled deployment of the Frontier Corps and the police was helpless,” he argued. “Finally, the Hazaras decided to stage peaceful protest by putting up the bodies of their loved ones on the road in sub-zero temperatures. We showed patience and it paid off,” he opined.

Members of the Hazara community have risen to high positions, particularly in Pakistan’s armed forces. The most prominent was General Muhammad Musa Khan, who served as Chief of Army Staff from 1958-1966 and led the troops in the 1965 war against India under the overall command of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, who at the time was also President of Pakistan.

Musa was loyal to Ayub Khan as he continued to oversee the professional development of the army to enable the latter to concentrate on his politics without giving up his military uniform. Musa was a religious man and had left a will to be buried in Mashhad, the Iranian city sacred to the Shias as the burial place of their eighth Imam Reza. Musa’s body was taken to Mashshad and buried in the cemetery in the Imam Reza shrine complex. Incidentally, his grave is close to that of Raja Sahib Mahmoodabad, a freedom fighter against British colonial rule in India.

Musa’s son-in-law Air Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi was another member of the Hazara ethnic group who occupied a high position in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Many other Hazaras served as officers in the armed forces and some are still in service. Saira Batool, one of the four female pilots inducted for the first time into PAF, is also an ethnic Hazara.

According to Air Commodore (Retd) Shaukat Hyder, three military officers of his Hazara community won the gallantry award, Sitara-i-Jurat, in the 1965 and 1971 wars along with many other lesser awards in recognition of their bravery on the battlefield. “In terms of numbers and keeping in view the population ratio, there are more Hazaras in Pakistan’s armed forces than any other ethnic group in Balochistan,” he added.

The Hazaras have also excelled in sports. In particular, they have done well in soccer, boxing, body-building and the martial arts. Air Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi’s brother Shaukat Ali Changezi was a high class body-builder. Prior to him, another Hazara body-builder, Mohammad Ishaq Beg, was adjudged “Mr Pakistan” in the 1960s and was also able to compete and do well in the Asian championship. Qayyum Changezi, a popular footballer was the captain of Pakistan team for a number of years. There is a story how Qayyum Changezi as the full-back thwarted the Chinese players during a soccer match in China and some Chinese referred to him as Pakistan’s “Great Wall” in reference to the “Great Wall of China.”

The case of the late Safdar Ali Babal, also an ethnic Hazara, was unique as he played for both the national soccer and hockey teams. Boxer Ibrar Hussain Shah was well-known due to his prowess in the boxing ring but he was tragically gunned down in Quetta because he happened to be a Hazara.

Many other Hazaras have faced a similar fate. The killings have prompted the younger generation of Hazaras to migrate to the West and many have been risking their lives by attempting to reach countries liking Australia in ill-equipped boats. (CourtesyThe News on Sunday)


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