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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Losing ground: 30,000 Hazaras fled Balochistan in five years

By Qaiser Butt
Published: April 12, 2014



Members of a Hazara community light candles for peace against sectarian attacks in Quetta February 15, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS
QUETTA:

With a surge in violence in Balochistan, members of minority groups have increasingly sought shelter in other parts of the country. Nearly 30,000 members of the Hazara community have migrated in the last five years, according to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Vice Chairperson Tahir Hussain Khan.

Speaking with The Express Tribune, Khan said the flow of migration increased as nearly 1,000 members of the Hazara community have been killed in targeted attacks since 2009.

Khan, who is also president of the HRCP’s Balochistan chapter, added that more than 10,000 Hindus have also fled the province as abductions-for-ransom have become routine over the last three years here.

Members of the Hazara community leaving Quetta and other parts of the province comprise businessmen, highly educated workers and senior government officials, amongst others, he said. Discussing sectarian violence in the province, Khan warned, “This conflict can turn into a civil war if it is not addressed properly at this stage.”

The Hazara community has been confined to two localities in Quetta, he pointed out – a four-kilometre radius on Alamdar Road and an 11km area within Hazara Town – after the provincial government set up security checkpoints around these residential colonies.

“They are physically isolated from the rest of the city’s population,” he said. “They are not aware of how long they will continue to be confined in such a way.” He pointed to the growing presence of religious parties in the country as a possible reason for increasing sectarian conflict.

Within classrooms, Khan said school syllabi create rifts between students of different faiths and sects, particularly when religious extremist thought is inculcated in educational institutions.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2014.

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