A very ugly reality

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Courtesy: Reuters

NOTE:  This story was published on The Express Tribune. We are ONLY saving it for documentation and future legal purposes.

April 17, 2014 | There are dark echoes of Nazi Germany in the ghettoisation of Hazaras in two localities of Quetta. In the 1930s and through World War 2 the Jews of Germany, Poland and wherever else the Third Reich held sway were confined to areas of cities that were little different to prisons. Those Hazaras that live in and around Alamdar Road and the 11 kilometre-square Hazara Town are now hemmed in by checkpoints, and do not have free passage. Many have fled the persecution, and according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) about 30,000 have migrated in the last five years. Almost 1,000 Hazaras have been murdered since 2009. It is not just the Hazaras that have fled Balochistan, 10,000 Hindus have left — driven out by kidnapping-for-ransom and pressure to change their faith.

The other parallel with the dark history of European countries is more recent than World War II — and it is the Balkan wars of the 1990’s that gave rise to the term ‘ethnic cleansing’. It is not difficult to see the similarities between what happened in Serbia and Croatia and what is happening in Balochistan today. People being driven from their homes, lives and livelihoods destroyed. It is happening to rich and poor alike, educated and illiterate it makes no difference. Their ‘crime’ is that they are simply different, minorities, in a province that turns a blind eye to their plight. The HRCP has warned that civil war is now a possibility, the grim end-result of the widespread sectarian violence and it is a warning to be heeded. The HRCP also blamed school syllabi for spreading sectarian hatred and hatred of other faiths, and the extremist mindset is pervasive among teachers and their students of every age. Minorities of faith and sect are safe nowhere in Pakistan. Although the example of Balochistan is probably the most alarming case of minority persecution, it is to be found in every province of the land. Christians, Hindus, Ahmedis and Buddhists are all leaving the country when they can, and religious persecution is a dark strain on the national escutcheon.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2014.

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