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Pakistan: For the Hazara Shi'as, the tragedy doesn’t end here
Being a member of the beleaguered Hazara Shia community, Shabbir Hussain is lucky to be alive. The 22-year-old man had left just 10 minutes before a massive explosion at the Taj Mahal market on Quetta’s Kirani Road left more than 80 people dead on February 16.
Hussain was at Karachi’s Liaquat National Hospital on Thursday, tending to his cousin, Nasir Ali, one of the 36 injured victims of the bomb blast, admitted to the city’s various hospitals. Ali runs his family’s shop for cosmetics and ready-made garments at the Quetta market.
“When I heard the explosion, I ran back,” says Hussain, while talking to The News outside the orthopaedic ward. “The shop was on fire with all these cosmetic products inside. We managed to pull out Ali, his brother and another 14-year-old boy, who worked at the shop. The boy is at the Aga Khan University Hospital.”
Ali suffered severe burns on the hands and shoulders. His face was partially burned too. “He needs to go through a number of small but sensitive surgeries,” says a doctor, who didn’t want to be named. “He is stable for the time being.”
With Ali’s brother also hospitalised with minor injuries, the family has been traumatised. “There is no male member in the family so I had to accompany him to Karachi,” says Hussain, who seems hopeless about the law and order in Quetta. “The space for Hazaras in Balochistan is shrinking day by day.”
Two main Hazara-dominated areas in Quetta – Hazara Town and Mariabad – are under constant threat of attacks from terrorists. “They shoot anybody with [Mongoloid] features and the number of ‘no-go areas’ in Quetta for us are growing,” complains Hussain.
The only solution on offer to the community by the police is to avoid going to non-Hazara areas. “But that is not possible because we have relatives in these areas too.”
The Governor’s Rule in Baluchistan did not help the security situation as the law enforcement agencies, despite having credible intelligence, often failed to stop such attacks, the young man claimed. “On the day of the attack, security at Kirani Road was visibly beefed up,” he recalls.
One of the two main roads leading to the blast site had been cordoned off. The Frontier Constabulary soldiers were not letting the vehicles pass without scrutiny “yet the worst happened”.
“I have no idea when all this will end. Our people are so scared these days that when we hear someone shout ‘Allahu Akbar’, we run for cover,” Hussain says.
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