Under Siege of Terror: The Shia Hazara of Pakistan

Pakistani Shiite Muslims Hazara protest

Pakistani Shiite Muslims protest after the sectarian killings in Quetta on April 14, 2012. Eight people, including seven Hazara, were gunned down in separate sectarian targeted incidents. (Photo: BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sectarian violence promoted by religious extremists  is not new to Pakistan, but the latest series of brutal attacks on the otherwise peaceful Hazara people has reached a breaking point in recent weeks.  Despite the fact that nearly 30 people have died in the past two weeks,  the Government of  Pakistan seems incapable – if not unwilling – to step in to stop this siege of terror.

The situation in the Balochistan province, located  in south-west Pakistan  has always been complex with a number of different ethnic groups, a seccesionist movement and various Taliban leaders all vying for power. Things have become even worse  in the last few years with escalating tensions between the United States and Pakistan over the NATO supply route leading to even more unrest in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital city and bringing an onslaught of tragedy to the Hazara who live there.


Attack on Afghan Minority Group Leaves Over 60 Dead

Suicide bombers struck Shiite (mostly Hazara) pilgrims on December 6, killing over 60 people in Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif during holy holiday of Ashura. I was moved by a photo of a woman crying out in horror at the carnage around her. It was also a cry of helplessness and a cry of sorrow. I couldn’t help but feeling that sense of helplessness and sorrow.

The attack seemed timed to coincide with the Bonn Conference on the future of Afghanistan 10 years after the first conference held in the same city. Amnesty International has a delegation in the city monitoring the conference. We have been arguing that human rights must not be sacrificed as the US winds down its security presence in the country. This bombing is an example of need for the international community to maintain its commitment to protect human rights in Afghanistan.