Islamabad [Pakistan], February 16 (ANI): Hazara Shias remain a prime target for various Sunni terrorist groups such as Taliban and Islamic state group in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In southwestern Pakistan, the Hazaras live in ethnic ghettos and little information filters out from this highly unstable region, which is off-limits to foreigners.
Over on the Afghan side, the Hazaras are also targeted by jihadist groups and those who can afford it now ensure their own security, according to a report in France 24.
Shahzaib Wallah, a correspondent in Afghanistan opined that Hazaras living in Afghanistan, make around 20 per cent of the total population. They live mostly in the states of central part of the country called Hazarajat, the land of Hazara community. In neighbouring Pakistan the population of Hazaras is around 600,000 to 900,000 with most of them based in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.
Some 500,000 Hazaras live in Iran, where many have fled persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"Hazaras have been victims of discrimination for decades. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Afghan King Abdul Rahman called them infidels. And a mass massacre of Shia minorities followed afterwards, thousands were killed. Recently they have become the prime target of Afghanistan and Pakistan branch of Islamic State of groups," Shahzaib Wallah added.
Targeted killings of Hazaras is part of an ongoing ideological war perpetrated by Pakistani Sunni fanatics against Shia minorities, a brutal campaign that runs the risk of retaliation from neighbouring Iran, reported Asia Times.
The targeted killings of 11 Hazaras coalminers in Mach on January 3 this year have brought an unpalatable fact to light: Pakistan is suffering the consequences of a deliberate policy of inciting, financing, training and equipping terrorists and jihadis.
Hazaras have been continuously oppressed in Pakistan and this is not the first protest by them in Pakistan. In 2018, a Hazara sit-in was staged in response to nine killings of their community members between March and May of that year.
Moreover, it is clear that the use of religious ideology to resist the Soviet communists have now become a monster that has become impossible to control and is now targeting the religious minorities of Pakistan.
According to the report by France 24, "Eleven coal miners from Hazara community were killed in a brutal attack in Balochistan last month by the Islamic state groups and thousands of Shia Hazaras have been defying the cold weather and continued thier sit-in protest for justice."
"They worked in the coal mine to make a living, it was night and they were asleep, terrors came and blind folded them and they tighted their hands behind their backs--shot them and slit their throat with knifes," France 24 quoted Nida Sadat, daughter and sister of victims as saying.
Demanding the justice, another victim's sister Masooma Batool said, "We are forced to take mass graves, our Prime Minister for God sake do us justice, we have been sitting here in this terrible cold for five nights now. Please give us justice."
Shias' are frequent target in Balochistan, Pakistan most dangerous province. However, the Islamic state and Taliban has strong roots in the region, according to the report.
The civil society activist, Arbab liakat Ali said "Eleven coal miners from Hazara community were killed in a brutal attack, they were all young. There were five-member of the same family. I myself have lost a brother, friends in the past. I know the pain of losing someone."
However, after many sit-up protests, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan finally came to Quetta for his condolences to the families of the victims.
France 24 reported that in neighbouring Afghanistan the situation is even worse. The Islamic state group seeks the Hazara as the one its main targets. Four years ago, a suicide bomb from the extremist group targeted the Shia mosque. Since then its under the protection of armed guards 24 hours a day.
"We have five armed guards and women who searches women at the entrance. All the guards are paid by the government except one, who is paid by the community," the news outlet quoted Mohammad Hassan Salahi, Imam as saying.
Imam further said that in the 1990s, thousands of Hazaras were massacred under the Taliban region. Mosques and religious schools are not safe. There is no security anywhere.
Moreover, in Pakistan's Quetta, all the entries are guarded by para-military forces. Every vehicle is suspected before entering. The community is cut off from the rest of the cities, report added.
Arbab Liakat Ali said that "there are check points all around the town. People cannot come and meet us openly. Especially the Pashtun, Baloch, and Christian. If they try to enter the area, they are stopped by the guard and asked to proof their identity. I myself have to come to my home by showing identity."
"Whenever I am alone I complain my ancestors and ask them why they came here to settle in such a country. I tell them that you could have gone to Germany or Iran. We wouldn't have be targeted like this over there," said Arbab Liakat Ali father.
Sumeya Batool, a student said, everytime we go to government offices to get passport or identity card, officials discriminate against us and the process is made longer for us even we have all the necessary documents.
However, in province of Datkundi in Afghanistan has social progressiveness, which has favoured women. Infact the head of the province is a woman named Shaima Rostamyan.
"Security in the province is very good. I am the head of provincal council and I have no bodyguards to protect me. I can interact freely with the people," Rostamyan said.
Meanwhile, in city in Afghanistan, Bamiyan, there was an explosion, near the famous statue of Buddha that was blown up by Taliban 20 years ago.
Peace negotition may be underway to end the war but the Hazaras minorities fear that their interest have been forgotten, France 24 reported. (ANI)