Persecution can bring people together. It can also prise them apart.
In Pakistan, so many minorities are threatened by homicidal extremists that travelling the country can feel like hopping across an archipelago of communities under varying degrees of siege.
A wave of killings unleashed on the Hazara community has left its 500,000 members afraid to venture out of their enclaves in the east and west of the city. At least 100 have been killed in Quetta and its environs since January. Nobody has been prosecuted.
Hazaras blame Lashkar-e-Jhangvi , a Sunni militant group, for the killings. The group has stepped up its campaign against Pakistan’s Shi’ite minority this year, spreading fear from hamlets in the foothills of the Himalayas to the backstreets of Karachi. The Hazaras of Quetta, who are Shi’ites, have suffered the heaviest losses.
From one perspective, the persecution has undoubtedly reinforced a sense of Hazara unity by distributing a shared burden of grief. On another level, the pressure appears to have cracked fault-lines that long pre-date the start of the killings in 1999.