“I am Hazara”

A young Shi'ite girl holds a placard at a protest in Quetta, 13 January.

A young Shi’ite girl holds a placard at a protest in Quetta, 13 January.

On 10 January, two massive bombs were detonated at a snooker hall in a Hazara area of Quetta, Balochistan. Nearly 100 people died and many more were injured. It was a shocking attack against a beleagured community that led to protests all over the country against the killing of Shia’s by militants. The slogan “I am Hazara” was written on placards as an expression of solidarity. The bomb and ensuing protests eventually resulted in governor’s rule being implemented on Balochistan.

I wrote a piece for the Express Tribune outlining some background on the persecution of the Hazara community:

In the aftermath of last week’s bombs, the HRW has condemned the authorities for ‘turning a blind eye’ to the activities of militant organisations. “They [Hazaras] live in a state of siege. Stepping out of the ghetto means risking death,” the HRW’s Pakistan Director, Ali Dayan Hasan, has said. “Everyone has failed them — the security services, the government, the judiciary.” January 10’s attacks demonstrated that even staying within the ghetto is not safe: the assailants will come to them.

I also wrote an article for the Guardian about the complexity of the militant threat in Pakistan and ways of tackling it:

Double-faced policy created this mess, but the way out of it is hindered by the weakness of state institutions. Campaigners point to the dysfunctional and slow criminal justice system as the biggest barrier to tackling the militant threat. Meanwhile, the army refuses to acknowledge that it has a serious infiltration problem of extremist sympathisers, particularly at the lower levels. This further complicates the notion of taking military action, which is already a somewhat meaningless suggestion given the multiplicity of the threat: would it be another incursion against the militants in the north, or should troops be deployed to secure law and order in Baluchistan and Karachi? How do you fight a war against an enemy hidden in corners of every city? A serious drive to counter extremism would include short-term measures to stem the violence, but also long-term policies such as education, job development, and community cohesion.

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