Pakistan Hazaras fear for their lives in besieged" ghettos"

QUETTA, PAKIstan: Crowded In Ghettos Surrounded By Armed Control Posts, They Say They Are Being Killed By Sectarian Militants In The City Of Quetta, In The Southwest, And Authorities Seem Unable To Stop The Murders.

For Years, Hundreds Of Thousands Of Shiite Community Members Have Been Locked In Two Separate Enclaves, Surrounded By Numerous Checkpoints And Hundreds Of Armed Guards Designed To Protect The Minority Of Violent Militants.

It's ' It's Like A Prison Here, Said Bostan Ali, A Hazara Activist, About The Conditions Within The Enclaves.

They Are Experiencing Mental Torture, He Added, Complaining That The Community Has Been Effectively Isolated From The Rest Of The City And Confined To Those Areas.

The Presence Of The Shi Community Is Particularly Strong In Quetta, The Uncomfortable Capital Of The Impoverished Province Of Balochistan, Where Sectarian Violence, Suicidal Bombings And Banditry Are Common.

Hazaras Are Technically Free To Roam Quetta At Will, But Few Do So Out Of Fear Of Attacks.

To Further Protect The Group, Day Traders And Vendors Also Receive Armed Escorts When They Leave Their Neighborhoods, While Ongoing Military Operations Are Directed To The Militants In The Province.

But Even These Measures Have Been Demonstrated To Be Necessary To Stop Major Attacks On Hazaras.

Last Month, A Bombing In A Vegetable Market Left 21 Dead And 47 More Wounded, With Most Of The Victims Identified As Hazara.

The Incident Is Even More Disturbing Considering That The Group Was Under The Protection Of The Pakistani Paramilitary Forces, Which Failed To Cause The Suicide Bomber To Detonate In The Crowd.

The Attack, Claimed By The Islamic State And Its Anti-Shia Local Branch, Is Only The Latest In A Long Series Of Attacks Against The Group, Including The Consecutive Bombings In Early 2013 That Killed Nearly 200 Of Its Members.

The Situation Across The Border In Afghanistan Is Equal Or More Dangerous, Since The Hazara Mosques, Schools And Community Events Are Regularly Attacked By The Insurgents.

Pakistan Has Long Been A Cauldron Of Unrest And Sectarian Violence, Where The Officially Islamic Republic Is Home To Innumerable Sects Of Islam And Religious Minorities That Have Been Attacked By Violent Extremists For Decades.

The Hazara Have Been Shown To Be Particularly Vulnerable With Their Distinctive Central Asian Characteristics That Make The Members Of The Community Easy To Be White For The Sunni Militants Who Consider Them Heretics.

At The Entrance To The City Of Hazara, One Of The Two Enclaves Of Quetta, A Shady Scene Develops Every Day When Hazara Men Get In The Back Of A Long Row Of Trucks That Go To The City To Buy Food In The Markets.

Once There, Soldiers Flank While Buying Supplies Before Returning To Their Homes In A Heavily Armed Convoy.

The Authorities Insist That The Measures Are A Necessity.

In The Last Five Years, 500 Hazaras Died And Another 627 Were Injured Only In Quetta, According To A Source Of Pakistani Security Familiar With The Situation That Asked Not To Be Named.

" We Know We Are Going Through A Field Of Extermination" Nauroz Ali Explained, About Life Outside The Enclaves.

He Added:" But We Have To Earn Life For Our Families."

Criticized By Their Inability To Stop Attacks, Officials Signal Their Own Losses In The Fight Against Sectarian Extremists As Proof That They Are Doing Everything Possible.

During The Past Six Years, In His Efforts To Protect Them" More Policemen Have Died Than You Did," Says Local Police Officer Abdur Razzak Cheema, Adding That Many Terrorists Have Been Arrested And Others Eliminated Because Of Their Efforts.

He Explained:" New Groups Are Emerging" . We Are ' We Are Trying To Track Them And Eradicate The Threat. "

There Are Also Plans To Start Installing Surveillance Cameras On The Markets To Improve Security, But Hazara Community Leaders Are Skeptical About Plans That Say Existing Measures Have Failed To Contain The Bloodshed.

If Three Control Points Within 3 Km Can Not Keep Us Safe, Can Escorts, Barriers And CCTV Do Something Better? Wrote Muhammad Aman, A Professor And Activist, In A Recent Editorial In The Dawn Pakistani Newspaper.

" It Seems That The Terrorists Are Winning This War ... There Is No Escape," He Added.

Even Enclaves Are Not Safe, As Demonstrated By The Bloody Bombings In 2013 That Impacted Within Protected Areas.

As A Result, Between 75,000 And 100,000 Hazaras Have Fled Violence In Other Parts Of The Country Or Abroad In Recent Years, According To The

We Have No Remedy, Tahir Hazara Said, Describing His Neighborhoods As Nothing More Than" Ghettos" .

He Asked:" Who Should We Expect Protection To Save Our Lives?"

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