Hazara People (Quetta)
Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, Labour)
I do accept that point; indeed, the high commissioner for Pakistan made the same point when he contacted me today about this debate. I shall say some things later about the difficulties that Pakistan is facing, but that must not detract from the fact that these killings are taking place on a daily basis. The authorities seem remarkably complacent about it and not a single perpetrator has been brought to justice.
While the movement of Hazaras is restricted, their pursuers walk freely in the city despite the heavy presence of the police, the army and the frontier corps who all have checkpoints in and around Quetta. The reason for that persecution is not just the Hazaras’ religion—they are predominantly Shi'a Muslims—but their genetic link to the Mongol people, which allows them to be recognised by their physical appearance. Hazaras are also persecuted because have pursued higher education, enrolled in the army and occupied senior positions in government, the civil service and civic society more generally. They are the kind of law-abiding citizen who would play an important role in a free, democratic Afghanistan and a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. Thus, they are the enemies of a whole range of terrorist groups.
The persecution—some would say genocide—carried out against the Hazaras has been well documented by the United Nations, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and organisations such as the New York-based monitoring body Human Rights Watch. However, there
is insufficient awareness nationally and internationally about what the Hazaras are going through, despite the best efforts of the Hazara community and organisations such as the Hazara Organisation for Progress and Equality, or HOPE, which seeks to raise these issues in Parliaments around the world.
The attacks are intensifying. Hazaras are murdered when they stay in Quetta and killed when they try to leave. Fifty five young Hazaras were drowned in the waters of Indonesia on
The international community cannot allow this persecution to continue. There are significant Hazara populations in countries around the world, particularly in Australia, and these countries should co-ordinate and intensify their efforts. I know that the Minister is fully engaged in trying to pressurise the Pakistani authorities to protect the Hazara community in Quetta, and I know that the Foreign Secretary is equally committed.
Pakistan is an old, valued and trusted ally of the United Kingdom and is seeking to renew its democratic credentials after years of military rule. It is a country beset by problems, and its citizens have suffered at the hands of terrorists more than any other country in the world, as Rehman Chishti pointed out. However, the Pakistani Government must do more to root out state-supported terrorism wherever it exists. It undoubtedly exists in Quetta city, and the Hazaras are its principal victims. It is a good place to begin this process.