Quetta: Mehrabad and Hazara town where Hazara community lives

The November, December, January and February are the wintery months across Balochistan, our elder says these four months brought many cold days and nights just three decades earlier. The mountains would get a white cover and pipes for daily use water would jam. No one could live without a warmer place and getting warm wool dresses and covering themselves in larger showels—a larger piece of woven wools to guard oneself from cold weather.

Just got out of my bed and started to warm water on a gas stove in iron bucket. Though it was too late near 10:00 am, a friend of mine with whom I had stayed said from inside his blanket “buddy keep sleeping, Quetta is closed till 11:00 on such a cold wintery day. Then I felt the harshest cold breezes once coming out of the quarter in search of a suitable place for to bath in. Regretted that my friend was right, but anyway, I had a plan to meet a source and it was necessary to have him ask about my subject.

After getting myself ready for the field, just dialed the mobile number of Ebrahim, and told him about myself, as I was earlier referred by a friend. Ebrahim recognized, and told me that yeah “I am ready, if you could come to ‘Fresh Point’ in Mehrabad/MarriAbad”. It was a point of happiness and confusion at the same time. Because, many of the readers know that Mehrabad is a corner adjacent to Quetta Army cantonment. The population in this corner of Quetta is mainly Shia minority Hazaras who are targeted by the sectarian violence groups earlier Sipa e Sahaba Pakistan now active with their title of Lashkar e Jhangavi after their organization under SSP was blacklisted by government of Pakistan in General Musharaf, the army ruler era [1999-2008]. Therefore, Hazaras rarely agree for appointment.

Most of the Shia Hazara killings are claimed by the same [LeJ] organization and the number has risen to 2000 and some 3000 injured including the ones in critical situation. The deadliest attack happened in 2003 when I was a FSc student and had been here to Quetta for Medical Exam Preps. That included a suicide bomber for the first time; the bomber had jumped in the Ashura rally while passing through Liaqat Bazar.

It is not only the Shia Hazara who feels the burn, the Sunni religious clerics and their Madrassas come under attack after the killing of Shias. These kinds of attacks are never claimed but according to security and religious affairs analyst, “a reaction” to attacks on Shia minority.

After crossing a Frontier Corps checkpoint, submitting my Identity Card with those security personnel. Then I forwarded, saw new photos with black and red flags above them. Reading the name of each photo, I understand some activities of the Shia sects are going. Yeah, sure it is the 40th of Muhramulharam, the month’s ten days are observed as mourning by Shia Muslims in connection to the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) an event from where the sects in Islam got roots.

Sitting for some minutes on “Fresh Point” in the beginning of Mehrabad, the man who was seeking me called. He’s in front of me. I just stood up and met him by introducing myself “I am Malik, the journalist”.

Ebrahim took me on his bike, and we went to the very corner beside the Hazra graveyard. I could see the highest number of graves in with erected boards explaining the name and explaining the cause of death and exact date.

Ebrahim asked me if I have come ever to this area, I replied not recently, because some years ago I had visited Mehrabad with a friend. He smiled, “we are given just this some Kilo Meter area to live in, and we are totally cut from rest of the Quetta”, life is harsh. We can’t get to our businesses, we feel so segregated.

One can easily observe the situation after going through the two population pockets of Hazara community living in Quetta’s Hazara town and Mehrabad. Only a college for girls and boys exist in Mehrabad.

The population in Hzara Town still lacks college, having heavily loaded high school for boys and the same for girls, an elected councilor from the area once told me. I had a visit of this area of Hazara Town just a week ago with another friend from the community. A larger number of people were inside a village covered by a wall, every one entering is asked by the armed guard of FC personnel, and then let to go ahead.

I understood Ebrahim feeling, and the feeling of his family and rest of relatives. It is true, the Shia Hazaras are pushed to the only corners of Mehrabad and Hazara Town, and they have no presence in Balochistan universities and colleges for higher studies and gaining vocational skills. Even a bus loaded with mixed students was attacked by the sectarian group and killed more than a dozen youths who were under graduates from BUITEMS Quetta University.

The same kind of attack took place on a Sardar Bahadur Khan [Women] University bus that killed many young girls enrolled at SBK when their bus was attacked by a suicide bomber woman. Though, the plan of the suicide attack was to kill Shia minority Hazara girls studying at the same university, but the bomber killed and injured from the Sunni majority. As the route of the bus was changed as a security plan and negligible Hazara girls would use this bus.

Now the Islamic State the well known ISIS/ISIL presence have been confirmed in Balochistan by provincial government in a communique with federal government, as reported by Dawn.com. The larger group in Iraq and Syria is well known for its Shia massacring and pushing Yezdi, Kurds and other minorities from their areas of influence.

Though, the federal minister of interior in Pakistan has rejected the presence of IS but wall chalking is reported on walls in Quetta and around in favor of the said organization. And some major key Tehreek e Taliban Commanders have already announced their allegiance to the Islamic State.

None of the Hazara community member can go to Saryab Road Quetta University and Khuzdar University for Engineering, because they [Hazaras] would be an easy target by the group that targets everyone from the Shia minority living in Balochistan’s capital Quetta.

Ebrahim says with a half smile on his face, “the international [pointing to Iran and Saudi Arabia] and Pakistan’s own plays are played here and we the masses of Balochistan pay the price, otherwise same kind of Shias living in Punjab too, I haven’t heard such deadliest attack on them”.

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