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April 15, 2019

Three days and waiting


April 15, 2019

Following the bombing this past Friday which killed eight members of the community alongside 12 others, the Hazara community of Quetta for the third day running gathered on the by-pass road in the city on Sunday to make known their anguish. No one appears to have bothered very much with the gathering or the grief of the Hazaras, who make up a community in which almost every family has suffered loss and whose graveyards are so full there is no room for more graves. The prime minister has taken no notice of the ongoing sit-in in Quetta. The federal minister who had visited the mourners last week was met by angry but eloquently put questions from elders in the community, who asked how a state which had failed to protect its own people could possibly protect them.

Certainly, the state has done nothing to build confidence within a decimated community. The killing of the Shia Hazaras has continued year after year. Each time they are mowed down by a suicide bombing or other attack, there are protests, sit-ins, and words from officials assuring them that there will be action – and then a few months or a year or so later, we have a replay of precisely the same scenes. It is as if we were stuck in a loop, unable to break free from the terrible cycle. The 600,000 Hazaras who live in the country, most of them in Quetta, have already said publicly that they believe they have no choice but to leave the country if they are to survive. Why is the state content to sit back and watch such a sense of helplessness?

Essentially, we know which groups are behind the killings. Indeed, several have stepped forward and with ugly bravado claimed responsibility for the deaths. Why are their leaders still able to roam the streets? Why are they able to continue their game of death and destruction? Why has the flow of hatred not been stopped? The answers lie somewhere in the question of commitment and will. The state and its forces lack the determination to open up the trap we have become caught up in or to treat all its citizens as persons who have the right to live. At present, the Hazaras are fighting desperately for this most basic of rights to be recognized. The groups who have perpetrated a campaign of violence against them are able to continue in their crusade despite the National Action Plan of 2015 or the many promises and pledges and bold statements that have followed. We fear there is no real attempt to change this reality and until genuine desire to orchestrate change is conjured up, the pattern of death will continue for more years to come.

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