For many Shia Hazaras, there is a sense of déjà vu after the bombing of the bus in Mastung in Balochistan which killed over 20 pilgrims returning from Iran. Protests are being staged since Wednesday across the country in support of mourners who are sitting with coffins of the dead on Alamdar Road in Quetta refusing to bury them till justice was done and the attackers were punished.
In Islamabad too, protesters were up all night in continuing solidarity with the victims. Activist Rehana Hashmi of the Sisters Trust Pakistan said, “We die every day when we hear such reports of killings.” The state has been kidnapped by the elements who are carrying out these strikes, she added. Human rights campaigner Tahira Abdullah said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again. Last January, I sat with the Shia Hazaras on Alamdar road for four nights after nearly 100 Shias were killed. A year later, we are back and the coffins are lying around on the road waiting for some response from the government.”
Ms. Abdullah said people all over the country were holding protests in solidarity with the victims of the recent blast and to condemn this genocide of the Hazara community. She said over 50,000 members of the community were killed over a period and it doesn’t let up.
The protesters shouted slogans against the militant outfit responsible for the killings. Faisal (name changed), a Hazara Shia, had to move to the capital since it had become difficult to live in Quetta. He said, “They killed our community in Afghanistan and drove us out and now here too we cannot live in peace. My children cannot go to school since they blast buses and we can’t even go to the bazaar.” He sold his shop and plans to set up a small business here.
In Quetta, the community is confined to Hazara Town and Alamdar Road, said another social activist. “It’s been happening since 11 years and we have lost so many lives. My community is in a miserable condition, it is psychologically ill, socially isolated and economically finished,” she pointed out.
There was no security either and during a major blast in Kirani road in Quetta last year a tanker full of explosives had made it through six check posts, she added.
Even though people covered their faces in public or wore dark glasses, they were still targeted.