On January 14th of this year, after 3 days of sit-in protest on Alamdar road of Quetta city, the Hazaras forced federal government to impose governor rule in Baluchistan. Of course, governor rule was not solution for this vulnerable community and within a month, there was a second massive truck-bomb attack on Hazaras and forced them to stage similar sit-in protest but it was the first time that both Hazaras and rest of Pakistan learned the power of peaceful and consistent protest. Certainly, it was a turning point in the perception of Hazara community about their collective-will as well as perceptions of rest of Pakistan about Hazaras. Although, Hazara community is still vulnerable and threats against them still serious but the evolution in awareness and social activism was an achievement worth carrying on.
Usually at times of agitations, there are a lot of noises on the streets and on media and there might have some immediate effects but the real changes are the changes that survive among people, once the agitations subside. It might not make a lot of sense but those who are familiar with K-T boundary event in earth's history know very well that earth before K-T boundary was dominated by Dinosaurs, and mammals were small and living in fringes but after K-T mass-extinction, mammals evolved to become dominant living forms on earth. Mammals had evolved a set of characteristics that had enabled them to survive impact-event and diversify in a changed-post-impact earth. Coming back to my basic point, although governor rule, the demand for targeted operations against terrorists and elections were the immediate needs however, they aren't the factors to decide the fate of Hazaras but changes in their perceptions and visions are. Governments come and go, policies, politics and relations change but the perceptions and visions of a nation need "revolutions" to change and as I said before, the changes that do not survive to carry on is not "revolutionary".
So after two massive sit-in protests, the current election is not a matter of who get elected from Hazara community but how the election campaigns are conducted and how people, particularly Hazara youths respond to them. It is the test for this community to see if those sit-in protests had some real fruits. Traditionally, the Hazara vote in Quetta was based on identity and was divided into two camps of nationalist-identity and religious-identity and I am not that naive to expect that this traditional divide would go after two historical sit-in protests but I had hopes that at least intellectuals and activists will break the ice and go beyond the traditional divides. I had hopes that candidates will show some creativity and campaign in a way that people would feel the change and present their cases to people in a way that their cases would make sense to people and give them hope. After all leaders are visionary individuals that transfer their visions to their followers and their followers start seeing their worlds in more meaningful way and find ways out. Frankly, so far I haven't seen any big change but some sporadic voices that I have heard and read from some activists and youths that were demanding candidates to not use identity-cards but rather present clear policies/ road-maps to people they were really pleasing. These demands are "revolutionary" and need to survive and grow. I am hoping that our activists use their pens and voice in cultivating a new political culture that is necessary for survival of this community.
1. BBC Radio 4; Hazaras, Hatred and Pakistan
2. BBC Urdu; The Future of Hazara community in Quetta
3. Aaj TV; Whom Hazara community will vote?