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United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

I recently started writing on a Hazaragi website, with a copy published on my blog, to convey my sincere and outspoken thoughts to Hazara tribesmen which have earned satisfactory kudos from youths who leave their congratulatory and thought-provoking feedbacks on my blog. They are, definitely, taken into account to be incorporated into next articles. As I have mentioned in my previous article, “The Other Side Of Tunnel……”, that one of my friends recommended me to share my views with Hazara youths which will sensitize them with social, economic and psychological issues to be discussed upon for their solutions.

Ever since Australian government announcement of 9th of April to await the cases of Hazara Asylum Seekers for a period of six months on the pretext of improving law and order situation in parts of Afghanistan, inhabited by patchy Hazara families with considerable large proportion of the Pashtoon. We know very well that the law and order situation in entire Afghanistan is deteriorating  due to the surge in insurgency by the Taliban fighters who would never wish to negotiate with the US and British to lay down arms and join the Karzai government.

With regard to boastful reports circulating in international media about improving law and order situation in Afghanistan, we need to take a look at the recent operation of NATO, launched with full vigour in Helmand province to eradicate Taliban’s influence and rebuilt the area. With the launch of this full-fledged operation in Helmand Province in the second week of February this year, it was lauded highly to push the Taliban back to Pak-Afghan border with an aim of destroying cultivated poppy grown lands, offering the local farmers to cultivate vegetables and other daily used commodities. The allied forces needed to stay in this part of Afghanistan for months once the operation was completed in order to rebuild the infrastructure and provide the locals with basic amenities of life to win their heart. The operation named “Mushtarak” remained completely unsuccessful as they started receiving heavy causalities from various Taliban groups with better trained sniper shooters, aided with digged-in Improvised Explosive Devise (IEDs), and continuous on ground firing with heavy automatic guns by other Taliban companions. Understandably, the Taliban cannot fight for long against a massive assault, well equipped with assault guns and with man and unman aerial surveillance. Instead, they engaged a small group of Taliban fighters into this fight to show sufficient resistance to NATO forces but a large number of them melted into local people with the purpose of afresh return for assaults and ambush. They are known for guerrilla warfare which could result in more human casualties. With over 15, 000 British troops, plus American and Afghan army, the Taliban could not be dismantled of this region as the outcome of this operation miserably failed.

With entrance of NATO and Afghan national army into this region, the Taliban tended to wage a guerrilla war, causing more casualties. The Taliban fighters when surrounded could use innocent people as human shield to avoid or delay imminent danger; as a result, they may well use the Hazaras living in parts of Helmand, Laskargah, Nad-e-Ali who would come under direct life threat from the Taliban and NATO forces in fire exchange. Besides, the law and order situation is getting worse with suicide bombings happening in the heart of Kabul despite being heavily guarded with trained para-troopers. The US and British soldiers contributing in the forefront of the war-zones in Afghanistan are being ambushed and sniper shot which are increasing death toll, becoming a major source of depression and suicidal ideation for these soldiers.

Hazaras have always been a soft and direct target of religious, ethnic and racial persecution in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to The Australian, a renowned Australian newspaper quoting relevant quarters in Pakistan and Afghanistan as saying that the situation in Afghanistan for Hazaras’ Persecution has not improved, on the contrary, they are being target killed in Quetta, Balochistan which has alarmingly increased in last several years. In 13th April, 2010 publication, the Newspaper quoted the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan, as saying “  A senior official with the human trafficking arm of the Federal Investigation Agency said yesterday Hazaras were regularly targeted in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where most of its 500,000 Hazaras were based”. In another question, the FIA official was quoted as saying, ‘if the security situation for Hazaras in Afghanistan had improved sufficiently for them to return, the FIA official replied: “No, there’s no basis for saying this.”’ He continued, “”Right now they’re being persecuted on both sides of the border. In Quetta (the capital of Balochistan), eight to 10 Hazaras are being murdered every week. If that’s happening just in Quetta, magnify this problem all the way to central Afghanistan.” In the same news article, the UNCHR spokesman for Pakistan Killian Kleinschmidt said, “he had discussed the persecution of Hazaras in Balochistan with an Australian delegation, ahead of the government announcing the six month suspension on Friday”.

Everyone knows that we are being targeted in both Pakistan and Afghanistan by religious extremists as well as unknown masked men claiming to be Baloch Resistance Movement. These killings have worsened the situation for Hazara tribesmen who may consider exiting their birth town and seeking refuge into a safe place.

I wonder why Hazaras living in Australia have never raised a voice against it as the six month visa suspension will enormously affect our youths who spend about $15,000 each to embark on, otherwise, dangerous and risky journey to save their life. Australia is a signatory of the Human Rights Convention of 1948 and bound to accept claims of genuine asylum seekers. Australian Hazaras can contribute a lot by meeting Australian politicians, briefing them and starting an active campaign for their Hazara brethren to be accepted by Australian government. Why they keep mum when their own brothers are being killed in Balochistan in broad day light, similarly, we are the direct target of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Our single political party’s deliberate silence over this sensitive issue creates doubts about their slogans of nationalism and sincere contribution for the Hazaras. Have they ever bothered to protest against discriminatory attitude of Malaysian and Indonesian Embassies who refuse visit visas of Hazara tribesmen for no objectionable reason? Hazara tribesmen, travelling to Islamabad, spending 7-10 days, completing all pre-requisites of visit visa, return empty handed which is costing them huge money. On the other hand, these embassies generate reasonable revenue for their country due to the fact that visa fee is non refundable in case of refusal or withdrawal of visa application. We know that Hazara tribesmen going for excursion to Malaysia and Indonesia are being refused the visa without any legitimate objection but to date our nationalists, single political party, human rights activists and other relevant quarters have never protested against it nor have they cared to seek explanation from these embassies.

We have never prioritised our national interests which have widened the gulf among different factions of the society. Vested interests need to be kept aside at present as we cannot afford to indulge in unnecessary time consuming arguments, disagreements but seriously contemplate removing hurdles to our way of progress. Today, we have to think of our survival in prospective geo-political changes happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan. If our single political party can mobilize people for street protests on target killings so can she take them to streets for their inborn human rights as denial of visit visa to a citizen without any lawful objection is denying one’s fundamental rights. It is high time that the single political party stood up firmly its ground and raise voice against this bigotry and biased malpractices of these embassies. They have to form Delegations to meet Malaysian and Indonesian Embassies to formally register their grievance, requesting for reconsideration of their stance for denial to issuance of visit visas to the Hazara tribesmen, after satisfactory scrutiny of their documents.

All Hazara organisations in Quetta need to form a platform to raise their voice against any form of injustice and discrimination being perpetrated against us on various pretexts and I appeal to all of them at this crucial time to take firm stance over non-issuance of visit visas to fellow tribesmen by Malaysian and Indonesian Embassies in Pakistan.

Liaquat Ali Hazara


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