Following the horrific murders of 11 coal miners in Mach,Balochistan,mourners from the Hazara community have continued their sit-in,which has now entered its fourth day. The families of those lost are understandably upset. This is not the first time the Hazara community has been targeted by militants or been subjected to marginalization. Two decades of violence are starting to take a toll. The refusal to end this demonstration stems from the fact that the usual attempts to placate those that have lost loved ones is simply not enough.
The government needs to take actionable steps this time;the protestors have demanded that the Prime Minister personally visit and look to resolve their grievances. This would of course be the ideal situation, but with so many other problems on the PM’s plate, this is easier said than done. Understandably, while this might not be possible, there is a need for the government to treat the issue with more sensitivity than is currently on display. The Hazara community’s protest cannot be painted with the same broad brush as other displays of displeasure.
At the very least, the government’s approach to this demonstration should be one of understanding and recognizing the loss faced by the Hazara residents of Pakistan. The state has the responsibility to protect all its citizens, without any consideration for ethnicities or other differences. For this, it must take practical steps, from awareness to end the marginalization and actually guaranteeing safety mechanisms where possible.
Instead of treating this like a problem that has no solution,the government should recognise that a unique opportunity has presented itself to ruling PTI. The party at the helm of affairs has a clean state in terms of previous experience in governance. This means that any of the mistakes made by previous regimes do not matter. PTI can win over the Hazara community; issues in the past of displacement, marginalization and all others can be resolved if the government is so inclined. This is the chance to truly resolve the problems of an entire community and be seen as their protectors. From a pragmatic perspective, PTI would be foolish to pass up on this opportunity.