Protest against the abduction of Tahir Khan's son (Source: HSK)
Protest against the abduction of Tahir Khan’s son (Source: HSK)

On June 9, the son of a prominent Hazara leader Tahir Khan was abducted in Quetta, a day after he made a speech indicting the State in the sectarian killings of the Hazara community. Hazara Siyasi Karkunan claimed that Athar Khan was picked by Frontier Corps (FC) personnel from Spain Karez Coal Depo.

The incident took place a day after Tahir Khan, Chairman of the Hazara Syaasi Karkunaan, made a fiery speech at Shuhada Chowk, Alamdar Road. Speaking at a protest rally against the recent target killing of the members of Hazara community, Tahir Khan laid the blame at the security agencies and the state. (Video link to speech:

During the speech, he said, “It is beyond the pale of doubt that during the last 15 years, Shia community specifically the Hazaras have been systematically massacred in Quetta. And to date, none of the actual perpetrators have been arrested.”

He further said in his speech, “All the established political, religious and social parties as well as the Parliament of Balochistan have categorically rejected the presence of any sectarian sentiments among the population in Balochistan. It is the State that is involved in perpetuating these so-called ‘sectarian’ killings. The State simply wants to give the impression to the international community that there is terrorism and fundamentalism in Balochistan. So this is all State-sponsored terrorism.”

The speech was made at a demonstration against the recent killing of 5 members of the Hazara community at Meezan chowk, Quetta. Hazara community in Quetta has frequently been targeted over the last 15 years and thousands have died at attacks allegedly motivated by sectarian hatred.

Since the abduction of his son, Tahir Khan has now set up protest camp at Alamdar Road, demanding the release of his son. Below he is photographed sitting at such a demonstration, waiting for his abducted son:

The protests launched for the recovery of Tahir Khan’s son continued on June 10 as well and updates were shared on the social media using the hashtag #FreeAtharHazara

So far, FC or the State has not responded to either the allegations of FC’s involvement in the abduction, or any justification for the alleged arrest. A status posted at the official page of Hazara Syassi Karkunaan reads:

So far no Govt. Official has contacted Mr. Tahir Khan concerning the extrajudicial abduction of Mr. Ather Khan S/o Tahir Khan Hazara. Friends and supporters are urged to come to Sit-in. Friends who cannot join the sit may please get active on twitter and facebook with ‪#‎FreeAtherHazara‬.

It is worth-noting here that while anti-Shia terrorists groups such as Ahle-Sunnat Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) are officially banned, the State allows them to hold rallies. Even mainstream political parties have openly forged alliances with ASWJ. This includes Imran Khan’s PTI as well as the ruling PML-N party.

In Quetta city, where political activities are often curbed on the pretext of security, ASWJ has been openly operating. A recent example are the images posted below of an ASWJ rally that took place in Quetta a few days ago. The rally was held in broad daylight in the city, with ASWJ members openly carrying arms and marching on the roads.