The killings of eleven coal miners belonging to the Hazara community in Macch area of Balochistan are shocking and must be condemned in all forms and manifestations. The gruesome attack has sparked protests and has drawn nationwide condemnation.
The coal miners were taken away while sleeping by armed attackers who first identified, blindfolded and then executed them. At least four of them were beheaded while five of them belonged to the same family. The families of the victims have refused to bury them while thousands of people have staged a protest sit-in for over two says with the coffins. They have demanded justice and the arrest of the culprits and have expressed fear that the killings could spread to other cities if action is not taken.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had condemned the attack, calling it ‘yet another cowardly inhumane act of terrorism’ and vowed to use bring the killers to justice and assured families of the victims they would not be abandoned. When the heirs continued to protest in freezing weather for over two days, he dispatched the interior minister to Quetta to meet and console them. But the truth is the state has abandoned the Hazaras who are at the mercy of fanatics and are unsafe in Balochistan.
The ethnic Hazaras have long been persecuted by religious extremists and are particularly vulnerable due to their distinct features making them an easy target. They have long been targeted for their faith, facing attacks and bombings. In Quetta, they have confined to two heavily guarded locality surrounded by high walls and barbed wire but still remain at risk.
On January 10, 2013, several bombings took placed in Quetta killing a total of 130 people and injuring 270 others. It was the largest death toll for a terror incident targeting the Hazaras. The families of the victims had also refused to bury the dead and demanding that the army take control of security in the city. With three days, the PPP government was forced to dismiss the Balochistan government of Chief Minister Raisani. This remains the only real revolution witnessed in the country.
Nevertheless, the relentless assault on the Hazaras and the ethnic cleansing continues unabated harming daily life, education, and business activities of nearly half a million people. The state has failed to take action against the sectarian outfits operating in the city. They are not equipped to withstand oppression or resist and it is imperative that the state fulfill its responsibility to protect the minority community.