Stories about Quetta

Balochistan bleeds: A Saturday that shook the province to the core

Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University is the only women’s university in Quetta. It was established in March, 2004 and approximately 3,000 female students are currently studying at this university. Last Saturday, something tragic happened that left these students scarred for life. Now, they worry if they will ever be able to pursue their dreams. Like any other day, students attended their classes, packed their bags and switched on their cell phones to mark the end of their school day. They were chatting, laughing and bidding their friends farewell as they made their way towards the bus that would take them home. ...

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What will elections bring for Hazaras – more death?

It was October 5, 1999 when ex-education minister Sardar Nisar Ali was ambushed by “unknown” terrorists. His driver and personal bodyguard died on the spot, he, however, was fortunate enough to have survived the attack but sustained serious bullet injuries. This was the first terrorist attempt ever to be made on a prominent Hazara figure in Quetta in a democratic set up, led by the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Soon after, leading Hazara businessmen including Sardar Saadat Ali, the younger brother of Sardar Nisar Ali started receiving life threatening calls known to be later on from the ‘alleged’ terrorists in Afghanistan. On ...

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When the victims are buried in mass graves, it’s genocide

When they need mass graves to bury the victims, it is time to start calling it a genocide. I have seen gut-wrenching images of poor Hazara men and women mourning their loved ones who were killed simply for being Shia. I saw horrible images of the scene of violence of the bomb blasts this past weekend in Quetta. But nothing moved me quite like the picture of the mass grave that was dug last month to bury the 93 victims of anti-Shia savagery. To my mind, nothing encapsulates just how low we have sunk than the fact that we now have ...

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Police powers to FC in Balochistan: A futile measure

In Balochistan, the police are currently enjoying additional powers under the Police Act of the British colonial days to raid, arrest, detain and prosecute anyone found violating the laws of the land. The police enjoy the power to search any suspected place where criminals are hiding illegal weapons, narcotics and other contraband goods. When violent incidents increased in the province, mainly through the targeted killing of Hazara Shias by terrorists in Quetta and its outskirts, the provincial government gave police powers to the Frontier Corps (FC) to raid, arrest, detain and question suspects involved in targeted killings and other heinous ...

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An open letter to Ban Ki Moon

Mr Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General, The United Nations. January 16, 2013.   Your Excellency, I am not Hazara – my gene pool is not affiliated with the descendants of the great Mongol Genghis Khan, who now inhabit Quetta. But I am writing this to inform you of a pressing issue that has shaken the international community as protests erupt worldwide regarding Jan 10, 2013 bomb blasts on Alamdar Road. Since the past decade, over 1100 Hazaras have fallen prey to attacks of ethnic cleansing carried out by radical militants claiming to eradicate all those who do not adhere to their brand of Islam. In September 2011, ...

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The bomb blast that shattered my life

“Bhai jaan, there’s been a blast here!” These were the words uttered by my injured little brother as he managed to call me for a brief moment, before the line dropped. What followed were perhaps some of the darkest moments in my life, characterised by feelings of intense hurt, hatred, helplessness and a river of tears, so overwhelming that it took me more than three years to muster the strength and courage to put those memories down on paper. For the past 40 years my family (a mixture of Shias and Sunnis – if you must use those titles) has been gathering on the ...

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From the mouth of a Hazara

On January 10, 2013 more than 100 people, a majority of them Hazara Shias, were killed in bomb blasts in Quetta. The killing prompted a four-day long sit-in by the families of the victims.  I just wish that I could have sat with the mourning families at Alamdar Road to protest against the ongoing killing of Shia Hazaras. I talked to a few people in Quetta, and a classmate of mine narrated to me the stories of mourning and scenes at Alamdar Road through emails. My classmate’s young married cousin perished in the bomb blast at Bacha Khan Road. Here I will try to accurately narrate the story of grief I was told of that young ...

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How do you live in a country that’s killing you?

I’m not in Pakistan at the moment, but whenever I travel I leave my heart behind in its hands for safekeeping. I keep thinking about it, like a woman thinks about her beloved, talking to people about it, looking for news about its well-being. So it was with horror that I learned about the bombing in Quetta on January 10 that killed nearly a hundred Shias as they were at a religious gathering. On the same day, bombs went off in Swat and Karachi, killing yet more innocent people. We lost a wonderful human rights activist, Irfan Ali, who had attended last year’s ...

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Ethnicity trumps humanity in Quetta

My city paints its streets with red as I attempt to write this blog. Tears trickle down my face as I reminisce over Quetta, once known as the city of peace. There was a time when people would take shelter in this harmonious city. Now people run from it. My head aches from the blasts and my heart longs for home. I still remember when I was a mere six-year-old; this city flourished with love and hospitality. My childhood memories are fresh and alive. I remember frolicking up and down the uneven streets of Quetta accompanied by my Baloch, Pathan, Punjabi ...

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The more they target us, the louder I will say ‘I am Shia’

Over 90 of us perished on January 10, 2013.  I don’t mean Pakistanis, I mean Shias. As much as it pains me to identify myself as something before a Pakistani, this state seems to have left us little choice. Since the age of 15, when my parents decided to let me be and decide for myself how far I wanted my religious identity to go, I have been attending fewer and fewer majaalis every year. In some part, it has to do with the fact that I got busy building a career for myself, but in some part it was also because I ...

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