Stemming Hazara Killings in the Islamic State Era

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By Brian Perkins

While the international community scrambles to end the Islamic State-led atrocities against Iraq’s Shia community, a similar, albeit more isolated scenario is unfolding in Quetta, Pakistan. However, there has been no outpouring of support or concerted intervention to stop the systematic killing of Quetta’s Shia Hazara community. Instead, they have been left to their own devices, confined to two small districts of the city, too afraid to leave for fear of being killed by Sunni extremists.

Sunni-Shia violence in Pakistan has been recurrent for decades, but in the past few years, it has become increasingly one-sided. The city’s Shia Hazara community faces relentless violence at the hands of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Saudi-backed sectarian militant group from the Deobandi sect of Sunni Islam. LeJ is a Takfiri organization, condemning any group that does not follow a rigid interpretation of Sunni Islam. LeJ is a breakaway faction of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a sectarian organization with longstanding ties to the Pakistani state. The Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda fortified LeJ during the group’s infancy to help fight the ethnically diverse Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. These battles provide the historical context for LeJ’s targeting of Quetta’s Hazaras, as hundreds fought alongside the Northern Alliance during the Taliban occupation.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 Hazaras died from sectarian violence in Quetta in 2013 and half of all Shias killed in Pakistan belonged to the Hazara community. Their Mongolian facial features and distinct dialect distinguishes them from Quetta’s Pashtun-dominated population, making them especially vulnerable to targeted attacks. Since the LeJ published an open letter in 2011 declaring all Shias were wajib-ul-qatl, or worthy of killing, the group escalated their campaign of targeted bombings and assassinations against the Hazara community. The LeJ has targeted religious gatherings, businesses, markets, and Hazaras simply going about their daily …read more

From:: Hazara People