The Pakistani government is systematically failing to protect the country’s Shia population, says Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Balochistan’s largely Shia Hazara community has borne the brunt of the Sunni militant violence, which is thought to have killed over 800 in the region since 2008.
The author claims “The Pakistani government’s response to this violence suggests incompetence, indifference, or possible complicity by security forces and other state personnel with the extremists.” Shia constitute about 20 per cent of Pakistan’s population.
On 9 June a group of around 300 Shia Hazara pilgrims who had been visiting religious shrines in neighbouring Iran arrived at the Pakistani border town of Taftan. They were attacked by heavily armed gunmen from the Sunni Islamist militant group Jaish–ul-Islam: at least 30 died, including at least nine women and a child. After a prolonged firefight, Pakistani security forces killed the attackers. More