In an atmosphere where Balochistan has become a battleground of the security forces and the Baloch nationalists, the killing of a former Olympian and deputy director general of the Pakistan Sports Board Balochistan might look like normal fare. The first suspicion in the minds of ordinary Pakistanis is that it was the work of some shady organisation that had hit him to malign the Baloch nationalists. However, there is another dimension to this murder. Syed Ibrar Hussain Shah, who had rendered lifelong services for the promotion of sports in a culturally declining society, was not even remotely involved in any political activity. The former boxer belonged to the Shia Hazara community and that is the sole reason for targeting him. Hazaras straddle both sides of the Pak-Afghan border and though a minority, they are part and parcel of the multi-ethnic culture of Quetta. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has by now claimed responsibility for this incident. In May, the Hazaras were targeted in Quetta in a highly coordinated attack with rockets, grenades and gunfire, killing eight and injuring fifteen.
After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, madrassas were funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to spread Wahabi Islam in an effort to contain the influence of Iran. Part of this funding went to militant sectarian organisations, which targeted Shias all over Pakistan. In addition to attacking their religious processions, scores of highly qualified Shia professionals were identified and gunned down in the 1990s. The juggernaut of sectarian killing has not stopped. Targeted killings of Hazara Shias in different areas of Balochistan have been continuing for quite some time.It is unfortunate that, despite a long history of sectarian killings in Balochistan, not one person has been brought to book. It seems the security forces are too busy abducting, killing and dumping bodies of Baloch activists to pay attention to this aspect of violence in Balochistan. Are they waiting for the Shias to take up arms for their protection or go for revenge killings? The provincial government will continue to ignore these sectarian murders at its own peril.