An improvised explosive device (IED), commonly known as a roadside bomb, took lives of 20 innocent people from the Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan on April 12, 2019. As a protest against the persistent failure of authorities to provide them security, staged a sit-in on the Western Bypass.
Local media failed to highlight the incident to an extent where authorities could have taken serious notice. Jibran Nasir, a Pakistani human rights lawyer and activist, shed light on the most disappointing aspects of the incident; apathy of Pakistani nation towards the Hazara community. He tweeted;
...These 10s of 1000s of ppl aren’t Pakistani. In fact this location isn’t even in Pakistan…
He further called the media out on their astounding silence regarding the blast and the protests in the aftermath of the incident;
…There was nothing for the media to cover.
The blast claimed the lives of 20 innocent people, whilst injuring more than 48 people.
On the day of incident, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan had “condemned” this brutal act in a mare tweet;
Deeply saddened & have strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Hazarganji market area of Quetta targeting our innocent people. I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the ppl. Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured.
Compare this to the tweets and several reassurances sent to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden assuring her of his complete and utter support, and you’ll understand why we despise the prevalence of double standards;
We stand ready to extend all our support to the families of Pakistani victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch. Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist & his courage will be recognized with a national award.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 17, 2019
Shocked and strongly condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack on mosques. This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2019
Pointing out the lack of concern regarding the Hazara community on the part of the government, Jibran Nasir had said that the violence in Balochistan has become a routine matter for authorities to take any serious notice. He had tweeted:
…Attack on Hazaras and violence in Balochistan is treated as a routine matter. We should fear our own apathy.
Only when the social media backlash towards the Prime Minister reached a peak did he announce his decision to visit the Hazara community on April 18.
The fact that it took so long for the representative of the nation to listen to the cries of people who have lost their loved ones on similar occasions, really does say a lot about not just Mr. Imran Khan, but the people who elected them. Jibran Nasir, in another tweet, questions the Prime Minister on deferring his visit to Quetta after the blast;
..Today is already the 4th day of the Dharna & Hazaras are sitting firm despite rain/cold weather. Should it take the PM this long to visit mourning families?
As per @DunyaNews PM @ImranKhanPTI will visit #Quetta on 18th April and will meet victims of #Hazarganji blast. Today is already the 4th day of the Dharna & Hazaras are sitting firm despite rain/cold weather. Should it take the PM this long to visit mourning families? pic.twitter.com/j92eUM8MoF
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) April 15, 2019
Replying to Prime Minister Pakistan Imran Khan’s Tweet from June 2017 in lieu of Parachinar and Quetta attacks regarding Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s preferences, Jibran Nasir appealed PM Khan to be accountable towards himself.
You need to ask yourself the same question you have been asking your predecessors..
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) April 14, 2019
There are several factors to take into consideration when speaking of the Hazara community including the silence of the press on the PTM march that occurred afterwards, and the religious extremism that leads to the targeted killing of a particular sect, in this case, the Hazara Shia Muslims.
It is absolutely deplorable – yet awakening – to take in the deafening silence of the media on the issue. For some odd reason, our media takes upon itself the burden to report every unnecessary piece of gossip about the life of our political leaders, for instance, there was vast media coverage of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s weddings – of which there were a few – but they never consider it their responsibility to report the gross human rights violation that occurs at the end of extremist groups in the country against helpless people whose only crime was to be inducted into a religion; ironically, the same religion, but set apart by the superiority complex of another sect. The media has failed to report the Hazara sit in which continues to demand the rights that have been denied to them.
The Shia community has always been an easy target, in particular, the Hazara community, which is why we must stop reasserting that all Muslims are the target of terrorist agendas, and Islamophobia, hence the reason we must focus on the Muslim community as a whole.
The truth is that we only seem to reunite in case of attacks on Muslims when they aren’t in our country, because we are divided in our own nation, all because of religious perceptions that seem t have rendered us unable to think beyond the extremist pandering of entities and figures like Khadim Hussain Rizvi, and even our national curriculum which discriminates against other religions..
The problem of discrimination doesn’t end with the Hazara community, but extends to the Ahmadi, Hindu, Christian, and every other non-Muslim community – or anyone who doesn’t belong to the Sunni sect – in an appalling display of how people can be easily divided and coerced into murdering people all in the name of religion.
If the hypocrisy of the nation wasn’t obvious after its people’s response to the New Zealand shooting, it has revealed itself completely, in light of the recent Hazara genocide.
We say recent because there are far too many atrocities committed against the community to count, and although this is nothing new, this is exactly what we must talk, condemn, and stand against.
It is time we stand against the state’s selective blindness to the plight of religious discrimination and targeted killing.
Photo credits: Faran Rafi