ISLAMABAD : Speakers at a special public seminar held at the National Press Club on Saturday on the target killings of the Hazara peoples in Quetta implored all of Balochistan s nationalities Baloch, Pashtun, Hazara and others to come together and prevent the province from being plunged into a mini-civil war. It was further observed that the state s obsolete posture towards the people of Balochistan must be challenged across ethnic and sectarian lines.
The seminar was jointly organised by the National Students Federation (NSF) and Hazara Students Federation (HSF), which attended by students and progressive political activists from across the twin cities, with Balochistani studying and working in Islamabad present in large numbers.
In her introductory address, general secretary of NSF Alia Amirali said that the Baloch, Pashtun and Hazara communities have lived together in Quetta city since the British colonial period and ethnic or sectarian conflict between them has been conspicuous by its absence, until the present conjuncture.
She said that all three communities have been integrated into the official patronage structure of the state in differing ways but their ethnic and sectarian differences have only been politicized over the past decade on account of both the so-called war on terror and the burgeoning Baloch nationalist insurgency.
She said that instead of protecting the life and liberty of all Balochistanis, the state s security apparatus has instead resorted to its age-old divide and rule policy to maintain its archaic and oppressive authority structure.
Sajjad Changezi of the Hazara Students Federation (HSF) lamented that the mainstream media and state authorities continue to depict the situation in Balochistan as a case of the foreign hand , and the Hazara community has been falsely portrayed as a proxy for the Iranian Shi a regime.
He said that it is misleading to depict Hazaras only as Shia s without recognizing that they consider themselves a nationality with distinct language, culture, and other characteristics which go beyond their religious identity. The attempt to politicize religious sect in the form of the target killings of the Hazara community actually represents an attempt to create discord between the Hazaras and the other communities in Quetta. Of particular significance in this regard are the very public attempts to prove the all Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) sectarian killers are Baloch.
Renowned security analyst Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa said that the Pakistani state and the military establishment in particular is beset by all manner of contradictions caused in equal measure by international pressures as well as the growing critical mass of opposition to military dominance within the country.
She said that the situation in Balochistan reflects the establishment s unwillingness to allow a substantive political process to take root which empowers all of Balochistan s ethnic communities. The province is infested with intelligence operatives from all of the country s agencies, many of whom are operating autonomously and therefore supporting renegade groups which are wrecking the delicate ethnic and sectarian balance in the province.
The seminar ended with unanimous resolutions condemning all target killings of Hazaras as well as Baloch and settler communities and a demand for military and paramilitary forces to be brought completely under civilian authority as the first step to establishing peace and a sustainable power-sharing arrangement in Balochistan.