The Hazara community continues to face violent persecution owing to its religious identity. On Monday, two more Hazara men were killed and another injured in a gun attack on the booking office of a coach service in Satellite Town. They were purchasing tickets to travel to Taftan at the time of the attack. Had they successfully bought the tickets and left, they might still have been targeted during the journey perhaps by a different set of people but for the very same reasons. That is the reality of their lives; one that is intolerable for them but easily palatable for the state. A series of horrifying attacks has firmly established that the Hazara are under attack. It is also common knowledge who their attackers are; they proudly claim responsibility each time. The victims are known, the attackers are known and yet, the state is consistently failing to protect the former from the latter. When violent sectarian groups hold public rallies in Quetta and chant, “Shiites are infidels!” – in the same Quetta valley where the Hazara reside – and the state does absolutely nothing, it means that it is either impotent or complicit or even both. There is evidence for both.

Other than instances where high-profile sectarian terrorists managed to escape from military prisons, images of sectarian leaders with security personnel provided by the state, immunity from action and free mobility – it is also worth remembering that Baloch tribes are not sectarian. This much, even former dictator Pervez Musharraf conceded during an interview. Is the state countering insurgencies by promoting religious extremists? By establishing religious seminaries and giving sole access to Jamat-ud-Dawa for relief work in earthquake-hit areas while refusing others, the leadership is making familiar mistakes that have already cost this country and its people far too much. The Hazara may not be very important to strategists forever engaged in one great game or the other, but they are citizens of Pakistan who must be protected. The state can begin by acknowledging its failure. Those who swore to serve and protect have done neither in Balochistan; at least the Hazara do not think so. Until or unless, there is visible action against sectarian elements in Balochistan and elsewhere, the state cannot expect citizens to believe that it has mended its ways.