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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Planned Extermination: Balochistan’s Shia Hazara Community

By Nadir Hassan 18 MAY 2012



Photo: AFP

You don’t need to travel to Balochistan to understand how it has been systematically separated from the rest of the country. There is a cell-phone company advertisement at the airport in Karachi showing off the breadth of its network. A thousand points of light illuminate most of the country. However, Balochistan is mostly shrouded in darkness.

It has now become a journalistic cliché for an outsider to breathlessly report on the diversity of a city and Quetta, Balochistan’s capital city, certainly is diverse. But what is truly astounding is how diversely militarised Quetta is. There is the XII Corps of the Pakistan Army stationed there, now headed by Lt Gen Aslam Khattak and moved to the city in 2004, just before the Baloch rebellion began. A base of the Pakistan Air Force is maintained at Samungali and the Frontier Corps headquarters in the province is also maintained in Quetta and headed by Major General Obaidullah Khattak. That the military presence in Balochistan has such a strong Pakhtun component is not coincidental, for reasons that will become apparent. In addition, it is hard to walk any place in Quetta that doesn’t have policemen from the provincial police force patrolling the streets. It’s as if Pakistan’s security establishment is playing the world-domination board game Risk and has decided the best strategy is to move all its pieces to one tiny area.

However, in the minds of locals, because of this overwhelming military presence, Quetta may be one of the most insecure places in the country. By now everyone knows that a separatist rebellion is exploding in the province; less attention is being given to an organised war against minorities in the province’s capital. The most systematic of these campaigns may be the one against its Shia Hazara community...Continue Reading..

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