“Mark my words, if you let an innocent die and it doesn’t bother you, You, my friend are worse than the killer”
Pakistan is famous around the world for its natural beauty and sightseeing. One beautiful sight is located in Hazara, Quetta. “Bahisht e Zainab” is the place that gives goosebumps to the viewers because of the colors, flags and hanging bells. When the wind blows it casts a spell on people. But it’s not the beauty that makes it a distinct place. It’s the story. Bahisht e Zainab is a graveyard. A graveyard is full of Hazara community’s people who lost their lives to suicide bombs and target killings.
The people of Hazara have been there in Quetta for the past two centuries. Their mass migration occurred during the Anglo-Afghan wars. Since then they have set up their beautiful, organised and educated community in the mountains. Hazara people are known for their excellence in various fields of life especially sports like judo, karate, and boxing. They have provided the country with international recognition in these fields. Women in Hazara are equal in their social, political and economic statuses. The community is distinctively well educated and civilised as compared to many others in the country.
But the life of these beautiful and lively people have been turned into a living hell. They are an open target of genocide and murder by their fellow countrymen. It all started during the regime of Zia ul Haq when bigotry and radicalism reached its peak and there were posters on the walls of Quetta calling the Shia community as infidels or “Kafir”. In 1999 the car of the provincial minister Sardar Nisar Ali Hazara was attacked along with his driver and bodyguard. Though he survived it marked the beginning of the targeted killing of Hazaras.
The worst phase of target killing started in 2003 when they were attacked by a radical Sunni sect. There were massive attacks especially targeted on Imam bargah. The recent attack on Firday 12th April 2019 marked the death of another 20 citizens adding up to the mark of almost 650 people who lost their lives. The mastermind behind these attacks Ahl e Sunnatwal Jamaat (ASWJ) is a banned organisation formerly known as Sipah e Sahaba and is actively and openly working against the Shia community in Pakistan. They had distributed pamphlets to people highlighting their agenda of Shia genocide and asking for contributions.
ASWJ is a religious and active political party as well. They had their Minister Mawiya Azam Tariq in Jhang who was later arrested over charges of a failed attempt of launching terror attacks. However, he was released. Ramzan Mengal who openly accepted the responsibility of Shia genocide in Hazara was also released two days before the recent attack. A fallacy is propagated by ASWJ that killing a Shia would open 7 doors of paradise for the killer.
Despite the efforts of law enforcement authorities, no fruitful advancement could be gained regarding the security of the people. The people of Hazara community are so accustomed to the deaths and burial rituals that the graveyards are no longer the sight of horror for them as these people have found their lives within the dismay. Their graveyards now represent their culture, life, and vigor. Markets are formed near them, children play while elders walk around the graves as if nothing tragic the dead bodies have seen.
Bahisht e Zainab is not just a graveyard. It’s a scar that marks the horrific bloodshed of these humans that were seen as a threat to some supernatural religious powers. It’s a symbol of the undeserved misery. This community is reminiscent of an ongoing holocaust. And for generations, they will have tales of how beautiful souls were subjected to brutality and the state and its authority remained a silent spectator.
Hazara is bleeding. And it will continue to bleed unless the last soul is diminished or if miraculously the Islamic Republic of Pakistan decides to come to the aid of its citizen. It seems impossible since the perpetrators are under the kind umbrella of the state itself. But it’s inevitable. If not now then when? Should we wait for the verdict to be given against our religious thoughts as well or should we take action? Should we ignore the increasing death tolls or should we voice our protest? Our answer will be our future sooner or later. Let’s choose wisely!
The author is a graduate of International Relations and a social science lecturer. She is passionate about human rights and social issues.
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