The Supreme Court on Friday said the Hazara killings were tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
A two-member bench, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed the hearing of the suo motu taken on the target killings of members of the Hazara community at the top court’s Quetta Registry.
Advocate Iftikhar Ali, counsel for the Hazara community, presented his arguments before court.
“We are being deprived of our lives and property,” Ali told the court, “our community members have been forced to leave the country and travel to Australia.”
At this, the CJP inquired upon the Inspector-General (IG) Frontier Corps Major General Nadeem Anjum. “He is in Islamabad but has his representative present,” an officer from the Frontier Corps (FC) responded.
“We are responsible for ensuring safety of life and property of the Hazara community. All agencies are advised to submit a report detailing the issue,” Justice Nisar ordered. The bench was also informed that authorities had stripped security from the leaders of the community. “We have been subjected to target killings for the past 20 years, but the authorities have not apprehended anyone,” Ali argued.
The deputy inspector-general (DIG) of Quetta, however, denied the claim that security was withdrawn. Justice Nisar then inquired of the police’s progress. A report was submitted by IG Balochistan Moazzam Jah Ansari in which it stated that 96 Shias, 28 Sunnis, 106 security forces personnel and 20 settlers lost lives in target killings in the last six years. The report also states that 399 Hazara Shias, 36 Sunnis and 29 settlers were attacked since 2012.
“In the same period, 344 security forces officers and 19 members of different minorities were also killed,” the IG Ansari said, revealing that the highest number of target killings occurred in 2013 when 208 Hazaras were killed. “However, there has been a significant improvement in the security situation since then,” he added, saying that the province has seen only nine Hazara killings during the past four months while 28 officers of the security forces were also martyred.
“What is the relation between the number of security forces martyred and the number of Hazara community killings?” the CJP demanded, to which the IG hinted that the deceasing number of deaths indicate improvements in the operation of the security forces taking protective measures.
“We have a done a lot of hard work,” the IG said, adding “The counter terrorism department has also nabbed a large number of people involved in kidnappings.”
“If the government cannot ensure security for the Hazaras then it must devise mechanisms to ensure their survival,” Justice Nisar remarked.
The Chief Justice also ordered the Provincial Chief Secretary to immediately ensure payment of financial assistance to all the people especially members of Hazara community who were injured in terrorist attacks in Balochistan.
Advocate Ali told the court that the security plan of 2013 wasn’t implemented which is why the problem remains unsolved.
“If the 2013 security plan is implemented in its spirit, we can witness significant improvements,” he added. The CJP advised the authorities to review the plan and ensure its implementation. He also tasked the authorities to determine the means which would ensure that the plan works out, and sought a report from the law enforcement agencies within two weeks.
“We will form a committee on the issue which will address all concerns,” he said. “We will not let you go unsatisfied, we are here to listen to your issues for the whole day.”
Major (retd) Nadir Ali, who was present during the hearing, lamented that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to investigate target killings of the Hazara community could not produce any significant results.
The CJP further ordered the IG police to directly look over the issue, while a separate petition has been filed by a Hazara woman whose husband has been reportedly missing.
The CJP taking note of the petition advised IG Ansari and Brigadier FC to contact Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for assistance on the matter. “We cannot exist peacefully without state institutions,” the CJP said in his remarks, “We should not consider them as our enemies.”
Leader of Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) Abdul Haq Hazara also gave a media briefing in Quetta High Court. He lamented that the community has been subjected to target killings since the past many years and that there is grave fear concerning their safety.
“Our lives and property are not safe,” Hazara added, “Militants shoot down people in broad daylight while Quetta has been turned into a no-go area for us.”
He thanked the chief justice for taking a suo motu notice of the case
On May 2, the CJP took suo motu notice of the continued attacks on the Hazara community.
Fixing the hearing for May 11 at the Quetta Registry of the apex court, Justice Nisar sought reports from concerned authorities, including the interior ministry, the provincial government and the Balochistan Levies.
“I met the Hazara community recently. They were so afraid, they wouldn’t even lodge complaints or requests in the SC,” he added. “The killers of the community are holding public rallies.”