The ‘variations on a blame-theme’ is just about the only way in which to sum up the sickeningly defeatist attitude taken by the population at large in respect of the second devastating bomb attack on the Hazara Shia population of Quetta. It has suffered mind-bending loss, for the second time this year. And which, unless sensible, foolproof action is taken, will be far from the last horror to descend on what are, sadly to say, sitting targets for militant extremists, who are, no doubt about it, devilishly sick in the head with - and yes, this is a terrible thing to admit - the rest of the nation not far behind them in the sanity stakes.

To generalise in this manner is, admittedly, wrong as a tiny section of the society did get out ‘there’ and protest this untenable situation. Yet, it is also right to observe that even this ‘tiny section’ had visibly shrunk in size from that which took to the streets in the wake of last month’s equally massive attack on this increasingly vulnerable section of the Pakistani nation. And, no two ways about it, ‘if’, but far more likely ‘when’, the third attack comes, fewer people than ever will take it upon themselves to publicly object. By the fourth attack, perhaps, the number of people actively protesting is liable to be as scarce as hens teeth, which is, quite possibly, exactly what the perpetrators and those supposedly holding positions of ‘authority’, are banking on: repeat something often enough, no matter how horrifically obscene, and it turns into a routine matter of no consequence unless, of course and in this instance, you are unfortunate enough to be Hazara Shia yourself.

This extremely unsavoury statement is fully supported by the content, or lack of it, in current and ongoing discussions surrounding the plight of the Hazara people in Quetta, who, according to some ignorant bigots, are Afghan refugees who should go back to where they came from. When, in point of fact, there has been a permanently settled Hazara community in Quetta since the late 1800s that was way before Pakistan was even thought of. Plus, if one wants to look at it from an immigrant point of view, or play the ‘refugee’ angle as a surprising number of people are doing, then yes, the Hazara population in Pakistan, not all are in Quetta, did expand after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. But, by the same measure, then any one whose family migrated here at or since partition, should also go back to wherever it is they came from. Especially if they happen to be Shia, before they too are targeted by militant extremists brainwashed and funded by their overlords, who are intent of forcing this ‘foreign’ brand of Islam on the country and its inhabitants as a whole - along with neighbouring Afghanistan.

Suggestions that all Hazara Shia’s be immediately transferred from Balochistan to special enclaves, perhaps in already volatile Karachi, in which they could be protected around the clock are, to put it lightly, ridiculous in the extreme. Since, from any humanitarian point of view, it is wrong to confine, in what sound like the Jewish-style ghettoes of World War II, any segment of any population in a supposedly ‘free country’ in such a restrictive manner and where, in such ‘prison-camps’ they could so very easily be exterminated at will.

Add to this that the banned outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, which has claimed, proudly, responsibility for the Quetta carnage, is desirous of wiping all Shia’s off the face of the earth, then one can only presume that those in favour of Sunni/Shia segregation are not Shia themselves. Otherwise, the thought of locking up one-fifth of the total population of the country, this would be somewhere around 32-34 million people, would be seen as the sheer lunacy it is.

The Hazara population of Quetta is being targeted simply because, due to their distinctive racial characteristics and the fact that they do, already, largely live in their own enclaves, they are so easily identifiable. But many other Shia’s, irrespective of their origin, are not very difficult to identify either by anyone who really puts their twisted mind to it. All that anti-Shia elements need do is monitor Shia places of worship or take note of name usage, some names are predominantly Shia, and, as is happening, slowly but surely, from one end of the country to the other, pick their targets at will.

It must be pointed out that the number of virulent anti-Shia Sunni’s is - so far at least - very, very small, but their capacity for murder and mayhem is obviously without a doubt. And this, in a country when the current President is Shia himself, is - or most surely should be - a major cause for governmental concern and yet, as with the majority of the population be they Shia or Sunni or any other denomination, it appears that they are at a complete loss as how to deal with the situation in a permanent and lasting manner and that they have, for known or unknown reasons, already conceded defeat, thus giving full permission for an unholy descent into bloody chaos.

­n    The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban. Email: zahrahnasir@hotmail.com