An Afghan Hazara tribesman stands on the remains of his house.
Deadly attacks on Shia Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan have made them risk their lives through illegal immigrations to Australia and other countries, a report says.
Mounting fear and desperation of Shia Muslims from Hazara community, who are frequently massacred by pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, has given rise to human smuggling business mainly across Quetta in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
“Every month hundreds of Hazaras leave Afghanistan for another country,” said Waliullah Rahmani, the executive director of the Kabul-based Center for Strategic Studies.
He added that more than 20 Hazaras have died in targeted killings in Afghanistan over the past two months.
The journey to Australia, where there is already a established Hazara community, usually begins from Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, stopping either in Thailand or Malaysia before arriving in Indonesia’s East Java Island, the report said.
The Pakistan Embassy in Jakarta said in a statement that there appears to be a “mafia working in Quetta who is using the incidents of targeted killings and sectarian violence unleashed against the Shia community, particularly the Hazara tribe, as a tool to instigate, motivate and persuade the youth to seek asylum in other countries,” the report added.
The statement also pointed to the situation of more than 25 Pakistani Shia Muslims languishing in immigration detention centers in Indonesia after failing to reach Australia. All of them preferred to stay in jail in Indonesia in hopes of getting refugee status.
Pakistan’s pro-Taliban militants have launched a violent campaign against Shia Muslims over the past years.
According to local sources, militants affiliated to Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorist groups have killed hundreds of Shia Muslims in the region since the start of the campaign.
The killing of Shias in Pakistan has caused international outrage, with rights groups and regional countries expressing concern over the ongoing deadly violence.