Following a series of targeted killings in Quetta, the Shia Hazara Community of “Muslims” in Pakistan turned to protests and rallies. The Shia Hazara Community is a minority group that has faced the wrath of Islamist extremists in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan. After a meeting with the COAS-Pakistan, the Shia Hazara Community called off the protests, however, the activists continue to voice their demands for stronger security norms and policies.
The Shia Hazara Community is a minority Islamic sect spread across central Afghanistan, and parts of West and North of Pakistan. Some traces of the Shia Hazara Community exist in Iran too. In Afghanistan, the Shia Hazara Community is the 3rd largest community.
The Shia Hazara Community Faces Islamist Violence
The Sunni extremists, along with other terror groups like the Al Qaeda and ISIS, have always considered the Hazara community as non-Muslims. This has led to many mass killings in the Shia Hazara community, over the past few years. The Hazara community has carried out numerous protests demanding peace, and asking the authorities to take action against extremists and militants in Baluchistan; responsible for the killings and attacks.
As reported in the DW, a leader of the Shiite Hazara Community stated:
“They are killing our people on a regular basis yet the government hasn’t taken any action. We have always held peaceful protests”
Although the entire community, across Pakistan and Afghanistan, are under the terrorist threat; the Shia Hazara Community members in Baluchistan have been most affected by the Taliban and other terror groups. The human rights activists accuse the authorities of Pakistan of supporting the Sunni militant groups and thus making the minority communities prone to terror attacks.
On Tuesday, after the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan met the Shiite Hazara Community leaders, the recent protest was called off, however, the demands for security policies are yet to be initiated. A member of the Hazara community stated, as reported in the DW:
“Our meeting with the army chief lasted for three hours. He paid heed to our demands and assured that the Hazara community would receive security in Quetta and other parts of Baluchistan province. After our successful meeting with the army chief, we decided to call off our protest”
Will Peace Return to the Shia Hazara Community?
Although promises of security policies and peace have been made to the Hazara community, the question now is will an assurance of meeting demands ensure peace and security for the community?
According to observers the dispute with the Shia Hazara community in Pakistan and traces of Islamist violence dates back to the Afghan War. Some Western observers also blame the military forces in Pakistan for supporting terror groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan administered Kashmir region to assert pressure and influence. The Pakistan-US severed ties are also based on the US believing that Pakistan supports and harbours terror groups.
While assurances have been given to resolve the security issues faced by the Shia Hazara Community, some activists believe that the assurance is only a way to pacify the protestors and ensure that they don’t revolt like the Pashtuns. Even though many believe that the military policies are failing and the main cause of the sectarian violence in Pakistan, the Shia Hazara Community insists that they are not against the military forces and the community stands by the military.