Wednesday 9 May 2012. An increase in sectarian violence has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in recent years.
Many attacks have been concentrated in the Northern Areas and Balochistan province.
Shias and other minority communities say those behind the violence – such as the banned Sunni militant organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – are rarely caught or punished.
BBC Urdu’s Nosheen Abbas talked to Shias who have been caught up in the violence and have decided to move to the safety of Islamabad.
Niaz Ali, 30, development worker who travels between Islamabad and Skardu, in Pakistan’s northern areas
I was on a bus when we were stopped in the town of Chilas, and the Shias were singled out and then killed.
I had been on my way from Islamabad to Skardu. I don’t know how I survived, given that I’m Shia, but for some reason they were discussing among themselves how they would kill Shias from Gilgit, and not Skardu.
One man tried to run away, but he was shot. Another old man died on the spot after they threw large stones at his face. You wouldn’t even beat animals in the same way that these people were beaten. All this happened right in front of all the policemen who were there!
It’s not safe to travel by road any more. They send two policemen on every bus now, but I don’t think that makes any difference.
You never know whether you’ll be alive or dead after travelling on that road to Skardu, but it’s the only one. Most of the people who travel are students, because there aren’t any good academic institutions in Skardu. My family has forbidden me to travel by road now, so I fly now, but not everyone can afford to do that.
The government of Pakistan does nothing for the people here. They never stop the people who are killing us, so they are either supporting them or don’t care.
Farishat Haideri, 20, an ethnic Hazara student from Quetta, capital of Balochistan province
Life used to be different in Quetta. The situation now is bad. There is a lot of fear.
We can’t even go to the bazaar and the shops near our homes because we are being targeted. We have been warned that all Hazara men will be killed. Even women are now being killed.
We’d love to live in a safe place. We are peace-loving people and we want to be treated like normal human beings. If the current situation continues it will become impossible to live in Quetta. People are now moving to Afghanistan and other foreign countries.
A friend of mine was targeted when they went to the bazaar. Recently, two taxis full of people going to the funeral of a victim of a targeted killing were stopped, and all eight people inside were killed, including one woman.
We never know who these killers are. They’re never caught. Until now, no woman has been kidnapped, but that’s because no-one dares to move from their own designated areas in the city.
My parents insisted I do my studies here in Islamabad. They want me to find another scholarship so I can move abroad. My parents themselves might move to Afghanistan.
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