A one-sided ‘cycle of violence’ in Pakistan

The New York Times has a story headlined “Pakistanis Protest the Killing of 86 Shiites.” It begins:

ISLAMABAD — Protesters and distraught family members of 86 Shiites from the Hazara ethnic group killed in two bomb blasts on Thursday in the southwestern city of Quetta braved biting cold to stage a sit-in on Friday, refusing to bury their dead till the Pakistani Army took control of the city to provide them with security.

Later we’re told:

Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, has been ravaged by a vicious cycle of sectarian violence in recent years. Thursday’s toll was one of the highest in 14 years of violence that have left hundreds of Hazaras dead. The dual suicide bombing on Thursday, like most of the attacks on Hazara Shiites, was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with strong links to the Taliban.

Oh, so this is a vicious cycle of sectarian violence? Really? The story of the Hazara is one that should be better covered. They have faced violence in various parts of the world — as you can find out with a quick search for “Hazara genocide” or “Hazara ethnic cleansing.”

They’ve been persecuted — with violence and systematic discrimination — for hundreds of years. Things have recently gotten quite bad with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Cycle of violence means that the Hazara are massacring Sunni militants, according to the New York Times. If that is true, it should be substantiated.

The Wikipedia article headlined “Persecution of Hazara people in Quetta” lists many attacks against the Hazara and under the “response” section, there is no mention of violence.

Tarek Fatah writes in the Huffington Post:

The attack was the latest in a slow-motion genocide of minority Shia Muslims in Pakistan by Sunni-Muslim extremists who consider the Shia as infidels, thus worthy of death. Many attacks against Shia Muslims are carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a militant Islamic group allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban. This time too the LeJ promptly claimed responsibility for the slaughter

So far the Hazaras have endured every killing and attack with silent suffering, hoping their lack of response would be rewarded by a cessation of targeted attacks. But not this time.

The sight of 100 mangled bodies, including that of Pakistan’s leading Shia youth activist for human rights, Khudi Ali seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Even the New York Times itself wrote just last month in an article headlined “Pakistan Reels With Violence Against Shiites“:

For at least a year now, Sunni extremist gunmen have been methodically attacking members of the Hazara community, a Persian-speaking Shiite minority that emigrated here from Afghanistan more than a century ago. The killers strike with chilling abandon, apparently fearless of the law: shop owners are gunned down at their counters, students as they play cricket, pilgrims dragged from buses and executed on the roadside.

The latest victim, a mechanic named Hussain Ali, was killed Wednesday, shot inside his workshop. He joined the list of more than 100 Hazaras who have been killed this year, many in broad daylight. As often as not, the gunmen do not even bother to cover their faces.

The bloodshed is part of a wider surge in sectarian violence across Pakistan in which at least 375 Shiites have died this year — the worst toll since the 1990s, human rights workers say. But as their graveyard fills, Hazaras say the mystery lies not in the identity of their attackers, who are well known, but in a simpler question: why the Pakistani state cannot — or will not — protect them.

Emphasis mine. I think that’s a better way to describe the killings (although it still might infer something of a cycle of violence).

Protest image via Wikipedia.

  • Julia

    Yes, “cycle of violence” implies a tit for tat situation – a blood feud. That is not what is happening here, judging from the events reported. Perhaps the news folks are trying to stay neutral? However, the fact they report point to victims and villains.

  • Julia

    “fact” = “facts”


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