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ICC Note: Christians and other minorities in the Pakistani province of Balochistan have faced several attacks by terrorists in recent months. In April, six Christians were killed in targeted attacks claimed by ISIS. In December 2017, ISIS militants stormed the largest church in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, killing nine Christians. Both the federal and provincial government must do more to confront this security threat to minorities.   

05/09/2018 Pakistan (Asia Times) – Quetta, the capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, is facing chaos once again. Members of the Hazara community protested at three different places in Quetta last week after four targeted killing incidents against the community in the month of April alone.

Hazara activists held a hunger-strike camp and a general strike was also called in Quetta. The chief of the Pakistan Army, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal flew to Quetta to pacify the protesting Hazara community.

The Hazaras are an ethnic as well as religious minority community settled in Quetta, and their origins can be traced back to Central Asia. They are third-largest ethnicity in Afghanistan. Hazaras have been enduring violent attacks in Balochistan since 2002 because of their faith and easily recognizable facial features.

More than 500 Hazaras were killed in the period between 2008 and 2013, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. The year 2013 was bloodiest for the beleaguered Hazara community. In January that year a suicide blast killed 81 people, mostly Hazaras, and another suicide blast the following month took the lives of 63 people in a Hazara locality of Quetta.

However, the attacks on the Hazara community did not die out completely in the coming years. According to a report of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) in Pakistan, 509 members of the Hazara community were killed and 627 injured between 2012 and 2017.

But Hazaras are not the only minority who have been under attack in Quetta lately. Christians are also feeling the brunt of the chaotic situation there.

In April, six Christians were killed in terrorist incidents in Quetta. Last December, terrorists stormed the largest church in Quetta, killed nine and wounded dozens of people before being killed by security forces. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on Christians and this is the new strategy of ISIS to give a message to the West by shedding blood in Quetta.

It goes without saying that the Balochistan government has failed to protect the Christian and Hazara minorities of Quetta.

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