Quetta January 29: Target killing of Hazaras in Quetta started since 2000 when Sardar Nisar Ali Hazara was attacked by “unknown” gunmen. His driver succumbed to severe injuries and died, while Sardar recovered the injuries. In February 2001 five other Hazaras died in another terorrist attack on a passanger van. Later on June 8, 2003 “unidentified” terrorists killed 12 Hazara policemen in Quetta. Just a month after this tragic incident on July 4 2003, 2 suicide bombers blew themselves up in a Hazara mosque killing about 60 people. It didn’t stop here. On March 2, 2004 a group of suicide bombers attacked a Muharram procession killing 80 Hazaras and critically injuring another 150. In 2005, another major suicide attack was foiled when some Hazara policemen, risking their lives, encountered with suicide bombers hiding on the route of the Ashura Procession. the Hazara policement killed all three terrorists.
Though apparently the series of Hazara target killing seemed sectarian, but the real story behind the scene is ethnic. The militant group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has been claiming responsibility for most ofl the attacks on Hazaras. After the suicide attacks of 2004, security forces arrested 5 high-profile masterminds of Lashkar. They were involved in all the attacks on Hazars since 2000. Balochistan High Court sentenced them to death; but last year, in 2007, all the five terrorists broke away from a high-security jail in Quetta.
During the series of attacks on Hazaras, the roles of some high-profile security officials have been controversial. Police Chief Nawabzada Humayun Jogezai is prominent among them. Mr. Jogezai, son-in-law to current Chief Minister Nawab Raisani, was the In charge of City Police Station. He ordered policemen to open fire on Hazara protesters on 6th July 1986 killing, about 25 Hazaras. Following this, Mr. Jogezai was transferred out of Quetta city. With his departure from the city, the situation calmed down and business of life got normal. With the passage of time, Mr. Jogezai was promoted to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police. He came back to Quetta in 2003. With his arrival, terrorists once again attacked on Hazara police cadets, killing 12 on June 8, 2003. Mr. Jogezai, being the police chief of Quetta, could not make any success in arresting the culprits. Some Hazaras even suspected Mr. Jogezai was behind the attack on Hazara police cadets. With DIG Jogezai in Quetta, 2003 and 2004 proved the most tragic years in the history of Quetta. Suicide bombers attacked on Hazara Mosque 2003 and Ashura Procession in 2004, killing over 100 Hazaras. During the riots after the Ashura attacks, eyewitnesses claimed Anti Terrorists Forces (ATF) opened fire on Hazaras and, killing than a dozen mourners.
Here another name came on scene. Anti-Terrorist Force SP, Rahim Mandokhel, was said to have ordered ATF forces for targeting Hazara mourners. Later, the Judicial Tribunal Report of Balochistan High Court, probing the attack on Ashura Procession 2004, released on June 29, 2004, clearly said that Anti-Terrorist Force led by Rahim Mandokhel was involved in firing on mourners.
During the Ashura Procession attack riots, ATF forces killed about 40 Hazaras. Later on, after large protests by Hazaras, Humayun Jogezai and Rahim Mandokhel were transferred from Quetta. A new Police Chief, Shoaib Suddle (Now Director General of Intelligence Bureau, IB), played a vital role in breaking the circle of masterminds of target killings of Hazaras. During his appointment in Quetta, five masterminds of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi were arrested and later sentenced to death by a court. Mr. Shoaib Suddle, relative to former President General Musharraf, was transferred from Quetta. Security in Quetta remained calm till 2008.
Once again Nawabzada Jogezai came back to Quetta after the new Chief Minister Nawab Raisani’s government was formed. Right after his arrival, five masterminds of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, having links with Ramzi Yousaf of Al-Qaeda, broke away from a high-security ATF Jail in Quetta last year. Regardless of the slow and corrupt system that failed to carry out the punishment, the escape was more serious question raising doubt on ATF and its jails. How could high-profile terrorists escape from a high-security Jail where a mosquito can’t fly?
With the beginning of 2009 and just months after Jogezai’s appointment in Quetta, several attacks were carried on Hazaras. In a riot after 2 Hazaras were gunned down in July 2008, police and ATF forces once again opened fire on Hazara protesters, killing 6 people in Hazara Town. Provincial Minister Jan Ali Changazi, talking to media, strongly condemned ATF for killing innocent citizens. The situation got severe when two weeks ago a Hazara Deputy Superintendent Police (DSP) Hassan Ali and 3 others were killed. Despite several target attacks on Hazaras in January, City Police Officer Humayun Jogezai failed to arrest any terrorists. We lost a great leader, Hussain Ali Yousufi, on Junuary 26. Mr. Yousafi had been critical of Police role in arresting the terrorists. Following the riots in which non-Hazaras burnt down private property, Mr. Jogezai warned to deal with with the protesters with iron hands.
This gang is not limited to CCPO Nawabzada Jogezai and SP ATF Mandokhel. Two other names are also taken by some sources. DIG Operations Wazir Khan Nasir and SP Investigation Ismail Lehri are also said be part of the gang. Sectarian elements such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi are given free hand.
The Hazara Delegation, comprised of Hazara leaders and politicians formed after the martyrdom of Hussain Ali Yusafi, will demand President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to appoint honest police officers in Quetta, ones who are committed to keeping the city and its people safe. The Hazara people are peaceful, and demand and deserve a peaceable environment for positive contribution to the society.