Aggrieved families of Hazara staged a four-day sit in to protest against the annual feature of killing their compatriots in the garrison town of Quetta by terrorists who have been slaughtering their compatriots with impunity under the very nose of law enforcers. Their eyes got dried of tears but their prime minister did not come to wipe them and condole with them unlike the tragic incident in New Zealand that stunned the entire world’s conscience to shame. Its prime minister—a brave woman with a mother’s heart—rose higher than the men in human greatness when she rushed to be with the aggrieved to share their grief and help them recover from their life crippling trauma.
Our prime minister had no time for the families whose sole bread-earners had been brutally eliminated. As compared to him, for days and weeks New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was seen attired in black mourning dress visiting the families and breaking bread with them. While our prime minister sent goof of a minister to condole with them and who to do a good PR job for his leader made him talk to Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani who had died in 2017.
Jacinda assured the aggrieved families of transparent justice at any cost. Whatever she did in the dark hours of national crisis was not cosmetic. Its primary objective was to re-generate confidence of the people—irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender—in the judicial system of the country, in law-enforcers, in the government and in her as the prime minister who had the capacity to lead and sustain in any eventuality— however grim and challenging.
Unlike Pakistan, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not appoint a committee of so-called experts or JIT as is the practice to cover up a crime, to save the culprits or to move on as we have seen in cases like that of Sahiwal killings by elite counter-terrorism force. PM Jacinda got to the bottom of it. She could see wisdom on the need to de-weaponise the society where arms could be held freely. No more.
Legislation is in order to restrict certain categories of lethal weapons from household and individual domain. And I am sure this is the first major step for defanging the society and averting any future incidents like Christchurch mosques. Most outstanding characteristic of her whole operation was not to allow Islamophobic or sectarian forces to raise their heads. It is to Jacinda’s credit that she converted a bloody situation from becoming a threat to a peaceful society and its unshakeable bond of peaceful co-existence. I wonder had she been president of US 9-11 instead of George W. Bush, Jr, world could have avoided a clash of civilisations, a crusade against a peaceful religion that has world population of over a billion and averted from plunging this century into century of terror.
The Quetta mayhem did not is not happen for the first time. Killing of Hazaras has come to be an annual feature like Sibi Mela. And that too despite the fact that Quetta is a garrison town and Balochistan a province that has over half a dozen cantonments with heavy presence of the army, Rangers, levies and host of intelligence agencies having a carte blanche to do anything they want to in the name of law and order including picking up of usual suspects to consign them to the long list of missing and hapless persons—with no voice and no relief.
The aggrieved families hoping against hope staged a 4-day sit in demanding simply a reassuring visit from the Prime Minister and Army Chief to condole with them and to give them some sort of assurance that the Hazaras would be protected. And the way their protestations fell like seeds on the stony ground, none of the two had the compassion to be with them. Prime Minister sent his Interior minister Shaheryar Afridi to pacify them. He is rare specie of ministerial buffoonery.
Hazaras is a minority not only in Pakistan but also in Sunni Afghanistan. Since they are Ahle-Thasih their number gets assimilated in Shiite Iran. However, their distinctive Mongolian features make them conveniently identifiable making them easy target of Sunni sectarian killers in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our downward slide to sectarianism and ethnic politics began when the secular vision of the founder of Pakistan—Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah —a Shiite— was tainted by the West Pakistani Power Troika and replaced with the concept of garrison state backed by feudal class and obscurantist forces who had opposed MAJ. It took its demonise proportion with the advent of ‘Mard-e- Momin’ General Ziaul Haq ordained by his divinity to play Messiah.
General ZIA’s ten-year long oppressive rule allowed targeted killings of Hazaras and of other Shias as if he had given a licence to a systematic program of Shias and democratic forces in the country. Except brief spurts of democratic rule under martyred Benazir Bhutto’s two cut short tenures, the treatment of Hazaras has been much more of the same. Unfortunately ever since PTI government Hazara killings have become more ominous
The other day the prominent columnist and TV anchor Najam Sethi in his TV programme rightly linked our overall malaise to the fact that we have not ceased to be National Security State and not given up our brotherhood with the militant non-security actors. Indeed, the way we side with the internationally declared pariahs such as JuD’s Hafiz Saeed and JeM’s Maulana Masood Azhar makes our policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds a thorn in the eye of international community making us outcast and a suspect involved in terrorism despite our sacrifices in men and material in fighting extremism.
During the tenure of President General Pervez Musharraf his one time Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider set himself seriously on the task of de-weaponisation of the country to eliminate lawlessness. He tried rightly earnestly but various compulsions came in his way. However, he did succeed in ascertaining the numbers of weapons possessed by individuals. It was in millions and quite a large number of lethal bores were among them. Not only that, he could not frame an operational procedure to defang individuals who were given a right to keep arms to satisfy their tribal egos in KP, Balochistan and tribal areas. As a result of Musharraf regime’s deliberate failure and increasing influence of Sunni religious leaders and their armed organisations Pakistan’s civilian population has become most vulnerable to armed sectarian gangs and non state actors.