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Why ethnic Hazaras flee their home

Hadi Zaher examines on newmatilda.com the increasingly violent situations in Pakistan that force ethnic Hazaras to pack up their lives to flee their homes.
Why ethnic Hazaras flee their home
Hazara Woman
Published: September 28, 2011 08:58 AM GMT
Updated: September 28, 2011 08:58 AM GMT

Quetta is a small city located in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, a couple of hours by road from the Afghan border. It is the administrative centre of Baluchistan and a second home to hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees who have settled in the city following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent outbreak of the Afghan civil war. (Hadi Zaher, newmatilda.com) Among them are tens of thousands of Hazaras, adding to an older community that arrived there a century earlier after the invasion of the Hazara homeland in Afghanistan’s central highlands by Amir Abdur Rehman, known in the British Empire as Afghanistan’s Iron Amir. The Hazaras adhere to the Shiite branch of Islam, distinct from the Sunni Islam, by far Islam’s largest sect. Quetta’s Hazara population is divided between two township slums in the east and west of the city. Many in the community own small shops, others depend on remittances from Iran, the Gulf States, Europe and Australia. Most families are divided across many political borders with relatives living in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Some of these people live legally, some have been able to obtain UNHCR refugee cards, but most have to make regular payments to local authorities and the police to avoid incarceration and deportation. This community has become the target of killings and massacres and its members have been forced to flee for their lives. ... The list of attacks specifically targeting the Hazara community is long. Members of the community, easily distinguishable for their Mongoloid features, bear the brunt of Pakistan’s sectarian violence. Almost every time the killers have got away and each time the Taliban affiliated Pakistan-based sectarian outfit Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) has claimed responsibility. LeJ has a declared agenda to rid Pakistan of all Shiites, who they consider heretics and liable to be killed. Leaflets distributed by the group have declared Hazaras and Shiite Muslims to be "infidels". Followers are urged to take "extreme steps", much like ones carried out by the Taliban in Afghanistan. FULL STORYWhy Would A Hazara Quit Pakistan? (newmatilda.com) PHOTO CREDITAfghan Lord on FlickrCC BY 2.0

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