The attack in Quetta on Friday morning was a horrific tragedy. At least 20 people were killed and 48 were injured in the blast, which is being reported as a suicide attack. Among the fallen were nine Hazara people and one Frontier Corps (FC) soldier who was deputed for the community’s security, according to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema. The 10 others who lost their lives included shopkeepers, businessmen and citizens working or residing in the area.

Official authorities are shying away from terming the bombing as a targeted attack fuelled by ethnic and religious hatred against the Hazara community. Yet the evidence on the ground and the past history of Quetta certainly points to the attack being motivated by racist sentiment. The attack took place in the Hazarganji area in Quetta; a marketplace which is known as a source of livelihood for Hazara shopkeepers to stock vegetables and fruits from the bazaar to sell at their own shops. The area has also been the target of previous attacks on Hazaras.

Indeed, the Hazara community of Quetta is also of the opinion that the horrific attack was meant to target them. Community leader Qadir Nayil asked the government to provide better protection to their community, which has been an often persecuted and targeted community.

If this attack is to open to our eyes to anything, it is that terrorism against the Hazara community is still alive and well. The many instances of violence against the Hazara community, which has included suicide bombings and targeted killings, has led there to be a mass graveyard in Quetta meant to memorialise the thousands of Hazaras who have lost their lives. It is difficult to find one Hazara family in Quetta which has not lost a loved one to targeted killing.

Terror attacks in Punjab and Sindh may have thankfully subsided in the past few years, yet we have no right to celebrate as a nation when members of the Hazara community are still subject to suicide bombings in their homes and marketplaces. Years of neglect from the government towards the persecution against this minority, and failure of proper implementation of the National Action plan has enabled such terror to exist. If the government wants to protect our minorities, it needs to call a spade a spade and term this attack as a hate crime targeted against the Hazara community.