Today is another day of deafening silence on atrocities against minorities within the country. Media silence, to be specific. The Hazara community continues to stage a protest since the beginning of April in Quetta. They are condemning the target killings that their community often becomes a target of. However, while there is silence over mainstream media, social media has brought due attention to the matter. Activist Jibran Nasir took to social media to detail the reasons behind the protest in the following tweet:
The protest in Quetta has been organized by local taxi drivers against target killings of Hazaras specifically in taxis while they travel in and out of their towns. It highlights the constant fear and threat Hazara Pakistanis live in in their own country @Advjalila pic.twitter.com/f7MQY8q0cp
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) April 4, 2018
Today marks the eighth day of the sit-in protest. The protest is by a persecuted community who are treated as second-class citizens in their own country. Violence against the ethnic Hazara community has claimed hundreds of lives in the past two decades. They are the victims of sectarian violence and since they are very much a visible minority, discrimination against them has become both ethnic and religious in nature. Violence against them has, therefore, reared its ugliest head. According to a report, 1400 terrorist incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have occurred in Pakistan. The ongoing protest is against these indiscriminate killings.
Twitter, in particular, is condemning the lack of coverage given to the protest.
— Madiha Abbas Naqvi (@Madeeha_Naqvi) April 6, 2018
#Hazara are protesting (yet) again. They continue to be targeted.
This amazing activist says it clearly – Don’t call us martyrs. These are cold-blooded murders. End the media blackout. #Quetta #Pakistan https://t.co/KfwX2zaMtm
— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) April 6, 2018
Couple of dozens students came out today in solidarity with the people of Hazara community who’ve been subject to persecution for so long & forced to live in ghettos. It’s high time now to address their insecurities. #StopHazaraKillings pic.twitter.com/zWHftxPmsx
— Auwn Gurmani (@auwn_) April 4, 2018
What is worse, even our leaders practice selective denunciation of atrocities against minorities.
Today @CMShehbaz is wearing black arm band to protest the Indian atrocities in the occupied Kashmir on the Kashmir Solidarity Day being observed across Pakistan to express solidarity with Kashmiri brothers and sisters. pic.twitter.com/hpVGockxQv
— Govt Of The Punjab (@GovtOfPunjab) April 6, 2018
Is it easier to condemn Kashmir because it serves a political purpose? Or because it is a nationalistic cause that riles up patriotic Pakistanis, thereby ensuring votes for PML-N? Whatever the reason may be, the silence is loud. This raises another question:
What exactly is the criteria to condemn Hazara genocide in Pakistan?
If the criteria to stand by minorities within the country is some twisted form of nationalism, then Hazaras fit the criteria pretty well. Several notable Hazaras have done mounds to create a positive image of Pakistan. Saira Batool was one of the first few female pilots in the Pakistan Air Force. Another notable, General Musa Khan Hazara, served as Commander in Chief of the Pakistani Army from 1958 to 1968. Many more are part of this list. So, if the idea of solidarity stems from some sort of nationalistic service, then Hazaras, like other minorities, are very much deserving of respect and security within Pakistan.
However, for those who see past the cursory nature of this type of solidarity, there is another reason why we should show support for the Hazara community. Simple reason: They are as much a part of this country’s socio-economic fabric as other citizens and should be given protection by the state. The Hazaras have a rich history of residing in the region that is modern-day Pakistan. Some have been here long before Pakistan was made, which makes them equally and perhaps more deserving of a peaceful livelihood within Pakistan.
Silence often makes us complicit in perpetuating discrimination against the Hazara community. It is time we look inside Pakistan to see who suffers within. Let’s amplify our voices and make the grievances of our fellow citizens heard. Privileged ‘mainstream’ Pakistanis, raise your voice against Hazara killings. Use your voice to empower others. Because only then we can ensure a more cohesive society that values all lives equally for a more equitable Pakistan.