Ejaz Haider has written an op-ed on the Express Tribune about the targeted-killing of Hazaras in Quetta discussing the sectarian dimensions of the terrorism in the city. He says,
The narrative is rather simple: the peaceful Hazara community is being targeted by a sectarian terrorist organisation. I remembered visiting, last December, what the Hazara call the Martyrs’ Graveyard, close to the Marriabad locality where Koh-e Murdar begins to get diminutive. The expanded wing of the graveyard has more graves of people killed in subsequent sectarian attacks. Finding: the Hazara have suffered and continue to at the hands of Deobandi sectarian terrorists.
But wait. Take a look at another set of ‘facts’. On July 28, as Abdul Karim Mengal, a Deobandi prayer leader at Jamia Albadar comes out of a mosque near Pishin Bus Stop, two motorcyclists kill him. Sources on both sides of the divide and in the police say there’s strong suspicion that the killers were linked to Allama Maqsood Domki, the chief of Balochistan’s Jafaria Alliance, and belonged to Dera Allah Yar, Allama Domki’s birthplace.
Domki himself was attacked in 2009 and his guards killed one of the assailants. In June this year, about 170 people from the Hazara community were invited by the Iranian government to attend the death anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini. “They were feted by the Iranian government. We don’t know what they were told but this year’s Shab-e Barat saw the biggest-ever celebration known to Quetta’s Shia community. They cut a 40 lbs cake, a novelty. It was an aggressive show,” a Hazara told me.
The chairman of Hazara Democratic Party, Abdul Khaliq Hazara, was even more forthcoming as I sat in his baithak sipping kehwa and talking to him. A man with a sense of humour, he criticised both Deobandi terrorists and Hazara and other Shia religious leaders. “They play in the hands of Iran, our religious leaders,” he said. Not one to mince words Khaliq has quite often fallen foul of Shia clerics for objecting to their sectarian sermons and being close to Iran. “Funds come from Iran through their consulate and we see this action-reaction pattern which takes toll of Hazara life.”
Law enforcement officers corroborate the Iranian connection but are more squeamish about the LeJ terrorists. How did Usman Saifullah Kurd, the LeJ terrorist, manage to escape from a high-security ATF prison situated in Quetta cantonment? What about Daud Badini? One source alleges that the night Kurd escaped, some Hazara guards were relieved from duty and the roster changed. It is difficult to corroborate this story especially if the duty roster was indeed changed unless one could compare it with the original roster. It would be naive to think that would still exist. But the question remains: how did Kurd escape?
Hazara clerics seem convinced the LeJ is supported by some elements in the establishment. This is the terrain of allegations which is utilised by all sides in Balochistan. The Deobandi side alleges that former General-President Pervez Musharraf had a policy of placing Shia officers in key positions, another allegation.
With this imbalanced piece, Mr. Ejaz in a very masterly skill tries to confuse his readers with mixing everything up to produce a perception that the mass genocide of Hazaras for the past decade in Quetta is a result of sectarian reaction-attacks. He starts to make this perception by mentioning the murder of Abdul Karim Mengal, a Baloch Deobandi cleric, saying that Alama Maqsood Domki, a Baloch Shia cleric from Dera Allah Yar, is suspected. The question is, What is the Hazara connection here? He makes it look like the Hazara genocide is a result of Karim Mengal’s murder. There have been sectarian attacks on Hazaras since 2000, and during this entire decade, Abdul Karim Mengal is the first Deobandi cleric killed on sectarian grounds in Quetta.
Then Ejaz intentionally jumps to Iranian Government’s invitation of some Hazara clerics for Khomaini’s anniversary. This is not new! However, Ejaz after mentioning Iran, doesn’t make his assumption clear what “Iran connection” means for the targeted-killing of Hazaras? If he means Lashkar-e-Jangvi’s genocide campaign against the Hazaras is a reaction to the “Iran-connection”, why its never a Hazara cleric killed, rather mostly secular professionals like engineers, doctors and Hazara security personnel are massacred? Ejaz’s perception-formation goes on with a selected quote from Khaliq Hazara of Hazara Democratic Party about the “Iran-connection”, and another quote from “a Hazara”, without any name and identity. The sectarian attacks in Quetta for the last ten years have been carried against the Hazaras only! Unlike Karachi, where victims of sectarian attacks are from both sides, not a single attack has been carried on any Deobandi gathering, while hundreds of Hazaras are killed in attacks on religious places, targeted-killing of secular leaders like HDP leader Hussain Yousafi and other professionals. The murder of Abdul Karim Mengal, which Ejaz exemplifies to make his perception-formation look solid, is the first incident of sectarian attack on a Deobandi cleric in Quetta during this entire decade! This single incident is probably more of a personal enmity rather than a random sectarian attack.
Later he jumps on Baloch-Pashtun nationalist rift on military funds for Balochistan, which is totally irrelevant to the sectarian attacks and targeted-killings of Hazaras. But it is the way he makes his perception-formation through half-truths to deconstruct the bigger picture.
However, what Mr. Haider doesn’t mention in his propaganda piece are the following:
- Why the strong inteligence agencies have failed to stop these targeted-killings and genocide of Hazaras for the past decade? The leaders of LeJ are known to common men.
- If its a proxy sectarian war with Iran-connection, why the victims are only Hazaras?
- Why the military establishment has failed to foil this proxy-war perception of Ejaz Haider?