The Hazara community was at the receiving end last week of yet another attack in Quetta’s Hazarganji area. The community has been a victim of heinous attacks in the past as well. O October 10, 2017, two unidentified men on a motorcycle had opened fire on a van heading for a nearby vegetable market, killing the driver and four others. Other attacks on the community include the assassinations of Hussain Ali Yousafi, Olympian Abrar Hussain, the bombing of a Hazara mosque, the Ashura massacre, the Al Quds Day bombing, the playground massacre, the Mastung massacre, the Hazara pilgrims’ carnage and the Akhtarabad violence.
One of the factors in the attacks may be racial discrimination. The community, not aboriginal, has been mostly aloof and can be easily told apart from other ethnic groups in their neighbouhood. There have been complaints of similar discrimination, even hostility in other parts of the country. However, the case of the Hazara community is extreme in terms of the violence unleashed against them and in terms of the consistency with which such violence has gone on.
Some terrorists groups have been claiming responsibility for some of the attacks against the Hazara people. These militant groups appear to be trying to cause fear, alienation, hatred and anarchy. It has been argued that the anarchists want this to lead to changes in the polical situation. However, it does not look like the violene is transforming the political landscape in a way it might help the extremists.
Previous studies of genocides or politically motivated violence approximating to it have shown that political upheaval and direct threats to governments can be an outcome of such campaigns. This finds a prominent position in Harff’s study. Harff defines a political upheaval as “an abrupt change in the political community caused by the formation of a state or regime through violent conflict, redrawing of state boundaries, or defeat in international war.” Melson and Krain emphasise the importance of revolutions, but it is also a category in which decolonization or other radical system changes or collapses would be placed.
The idea is that political upheaval provides a context and a political opportunity which is conducive to starting a genocide.
In countries like Pakistan where politics in some of the areas is dominated by tribal leaders they form the ultimate ruling elite. Democides are likely to happen on accuont of cross pressures and the associated political culture.
Places like Balochistan can become more and more lawless as result of such vilence. This may end up creating a situation where local politicians do not care about the minorities and cater only to the needs and interests of their client electorate.
Such an argument can derive support form a more narrow definition of democracies, in which no one group can become the driving force and there is a democratic culture which “involves debate, demonstrations, and protests as well as negotiation, compromise, and tolerance.”
Autocratic regimes have an easier job of dealing with such disagreeable groups with no other actors constraining their actions. This is reinforced by the statement that a genocide occurs only in case of “institutional executive constraints”.
In short, such a genocide can only be stopped if the government is willing to protect every community irrespective of the cost of doing so.