The writer’s vague understanding of the genuineness of the Hazaras’ chronicles vis-a-vis their ethno-religious persecution is disparagingly weak
There are more fools in the world than there are people — Heinrich Heine.
After reading the entire article of Surat Khan Marri in Daily Times (June 23, 2012),I realized that the article is filled with contemptuous and irrational annotations about the Pakistani Hazaras. The writer’s vague understanding of the genuineness of the Hazaras’ chronicles vis-a-vis their ethno-religious persecution is disparagingly weak. Similarly, he significantly lacks the potential to do thorough research about the subject before writing. His stark shallowness casts doubts about his credentials of addressing an issue in an otherwise professional tone. I am not at all surprised the way he has sketched the entire ethno-religious scenario of Quetta compared with the subjugation of the Hazaras in that there are hate and conspiracy mongers all around who play into the hands of others. My recent article about the role of intelligence agencies and government functionaries, especially in Quetta, to pit the Hazaras against the Pashtuns, the Baloch, the Punjabis and vice versa, denotes the former’s manoeuvrings from a different perspective (see https://liaquatalihazara.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/pakistan-islamic-or-moderate-islamic-state/).
Arguably, they strive to sow the seeds of hatred among brotherly nations of Balochistan who have been living there with exemplary peace for centuries. Let us scrutinise the write-up of the above said columnist scientifically to ascertain its weight.
In the first paragraph, Marri tried to create ambiguities as if the Hazaras were not of Mongol origin. There are numerous authentic sources for ready reference to verify their ancestral genealogy but the proceeding passage(s) are quoted to correct his understanding and knowledge about his claims. The Encyclopaedia of the World Muslims: tribes, castes and communities, volume 2 and Encyclopaedia of the Stateless Nations, Ethnic and National Groups around the world, volume II D-K have clearly described the lineal descent of the Hazaras as Mongol. Genghis Khan or the Great Khan was also born in a Mongol tribe (Herald Lamb’s book on Genghis Khan: Emperor of All Men).
The Hazaras, contrary to his views, clinched the top 11 out of 16 posts in Afghanistan’s last year’s competitive examination, which may be ascertained from the official website of the country. The writer further shows his failure to confirm the entire population of Afghanistan at present, which could have been sought through reliable literary sources.
No census has taken place in Afghanistan since 1971, hence it is difficult to verify the exact number of people living there. However, the Central Intelligence Agency’s estimate of 2001’s Afghanistan population has been quoted in Far East and Australasia 2003, p.79-84 as 26,813,057. In view of the quoted figure, all the nationalities of Afghanistan agreed at the Bonn Conference, 2002, to accept the Hazara population as 19-20 percent, which accounts for 5,362,611. It is needless to mention that the Hazaras successfully secured 54 seats in the previous general elections in Afghanistan.
The abuse of the word community for the Hazaras must be repealed as they have been officially recognised as the second largest ethnicity in Afghanistan. The writer needs to enhance his understanding of the term and in that, he could have substituted the word community with that of nation. The Hazaras have always had a pivotal role in making Afghanistan a prosperous country. Evidently, the chains of educational establishments and basic health units in Hazara-inhabited areas of the country and the inclination of people towards education have escaped the writer’s attention. Generous Hazaras living overseas finance the smooth functioning and maintenance of these facilities. Besides, Bamyan was declared the most peaceful province in Afghanistan by the UN in 2008 while over 50 percent of students studying in Kabul University are Hazaras.
Wikipedia and other reliable sources reveal that the Hazaras, before the brutal regime of Abdul Rehman in Afghanistan, constituted 65 percent of the population of the country, which, by any standards, was mammoth. However, the wars between the Hazaras and the then despot king, Abdul Rehman, culminated in the former’s ethnic cleansing and severe persecution to the extent that the captives were sold off to others as slaves. These mass-scale human rights violations also drove the Hazaras off their native land to neighbouring countries, viz. Pakistan, Iran, India and Tajikistan, etc. However, there is no credible proof to indicate that the Hazaras may have been sold to the Baloch. The writer has further attempted to oversimplify the historical details as though the Hazaras, who were sold as slaves to the Baloch, managed to develop contacts and interaction with others across the border into far-flung and dilapidated areas of central Afghanistan. It must be remembered, however, that the Hazaras were forcibly driven out of their native land at the time of war in the 1880s. As a result, the social, financial and political subjugation of the Hazaras compelled them to move to the then colonial British India. A large number of them started their lives afresh in Quetta while others moved further up towards the northern parts of India.
The writer’s erroneous information on Balochistan and the Baloch in this region portrays a vivid dichotomy between his research and analytical approach towards the subject. Never mind the Baloch origins and their migration into presently known Balochistan, but certainly most of the Baloch tribes are still living their lives as nomads in remote areas of the province, who keep travelling far across the province throughout the year. Readers are invited to ponder how the nomads could afford to bargain slaves’ rates when they themselves live below the poverty line. Similar to that, how could the enslaved Hazara boys and girls (as he claims), have developed interactions and contacts in the 1880s onwards in Afghanistan when the two Afghan ethnicities were at war? Surat Khan Marri, while writing about the extremities of the wars of the 1880s, inclines to overlook the feasibility of contacting someone hundreds of miles away or building interactions without the availability of modern telecommunication facilities.
The readers may remember that Pakistan until 1971 was run under the two units formula, which constituted the presently independent state of Bangladesh as East Pakistan and the rest of the country as West Pakistan. The four provinces in Pakistan prevailed after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
The cognizant readers know better and shall agree with the point that the army, be it British or Pakistani, has to follow strict rules and regulations of their organisations where nepotism or favouritism bear no meaning when it comes to recruiting commissioned officers. One is also aware that until some years ago, the Inter-Services Selection Board (ISSB) maintained two-tier selection processes for all interested candidates wishing to join the Pakistan army. A regional office was set up in the province’s capital while the main offices were in Karachi/Lahore. They would recruit capable youths to serve the country as well as representing it internationally. Hazaras, having the guts and talents coupled with diligence and hard work, would be selected from Balochistan. We are proud to have produced talented people in all walks of life, including the army. The preoccupied column writer has again tried to overstep the historical facts as he deliberately blurred this episode. General Musa Khan Hazara rose to the rank of commander-in-chief in the Pakistan army, which is equivalent to the post and prestige of the chief of army staff (COAS). He is the only Balochistani who holds this honour. Sherbat Ali Changezi is the only Balochichistani army officer who rose to the rank of air marshal and fought the two wars against India in 1965 and 1971. Besides, Saira Batool is the only Balochistani Hazara female pilot in the Pakistan army who is trained to fly aircraft.
(To be continued)
The writer is a London-based freelance journalist, and the chairperson of a political organisation, known as Hazara United Movement (HUM)
The first part of the article was published on the Daily Times on 12th July, 2012 – an English Newspaper of Pakistan.