Azaranica is a non-biased news aggregator on Hazaras. The main aim is to promote understanding and respect for cultural identities by highlighting the realities they face on daily basis...Hazaras have been the victim of active persecution and discrimination and one of the reasons among many has been the lack of information, awareness, and disinformation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quetta as it used to be

Thursday, August 23, 2012 
From Print Edition

It is depressing to read accounts of what Quetta was once like as a city. In the past, people thronged to its cinemas, wandered through the bazaars without fear, dined out, attended parties and children played safely on the streets. The city was a much-loved home to the generations who grew up there as well as a cool oasis for holiday-makers from other parts of the country escaping the summer heat. But that was before strife and trouble hit the once-tranquil city. Balochistan’s capital has today changed beyond recognition. Bomb blasts and incidents of ethnic and sectarian violence are reported almost every day, with check-posts, bunkers and road blocks now ubiquitous. The latest incident of violence took place on Eid, killing one and wounding eight when a vehicle belonging to the security forces was targeted. There have been numerous similar attacks as well as others based on sectarian or ethnic motives. In targeted killings, teachers have been shot dead and abductions and disappearances have become a regular affair. The people of Quetta and many other parts of the province now live in a state of perpetual fear and avoid going out after dark. There is simply no law and order and no sense of security.

As a result of all this, settlers from other provinces who have lived in Balochistan for generations have been forced to pack their belongings and leave. The Hazara community of the city feel equally insecure given the chilling frequency of attacks on them. In desperation, many have restricted their movements and others have made attempts to leave the country. Little heed has been paid to their protests by the authorities. Many Baloch young men, meanwhile, continue to live in the fear of being abducted and joining the ranks of ‘missing persons’. In these circumstances, it is almost impossible to believe that Quetta was once a place of joy and calm. Old pictures from more peaceful times now seem difficult to recognise. Certainly, the generation that has grown up in the Quetta of today find it difficult to even relate to such happier times. Can anything be done to halt this slide of a once-graceful city towards anarchy? Is it already too late for the provincial government to wake up from its deep slumber and accept its responsibility of protecting the people? Do the top political leaders of the country really understand what is happening and what their role is in stopping it? The Supreme Court continues its efforts to persuade the authorities to impose some kind of order in Balochistan. But the task, given the callous and indifferent attitude of those responsible for maintaining law and order, appears to be beyond the court’s abilities. The future of our largest province is shrouded in deep uncertainty and it falls upon all of us to try and find solutions before it is too late.

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