“He said he wanted to be a voice for the Hazaras and to spread the message of peace”
Basit was one of my closest friends. For him, photojournalism was a way to denounce the suffering of the Hazaras, to ask that their rights be respected, and to promote peace. During January, he made a pilgrimage to the Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala. For him, the Imam was a role model: he saw in him a man who refused oppression and promoted peace among men. Basit was very well known and appreciated within Quetta’s Shiite community. He was also known by Shiites across Pakistan, as his photography work was well regarded.When FRANCE 24 journalists contacted him in 2012, he suggested that I respond to the interview myself, but I preferred to let him do it because I knew he would describe the Hazaras’ situation better than anyone. One day, while talking about his collaboration with the FRANCE 24 Observers, he said to me: ‘I’m very happy. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do: to share news about the situation in Quetta with the world, to be a voice for the Hazaras, and to spread the message of peace’.Groups like al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are spreading terror in Quetta. They want to impose their own laws, their own way of thinking. For them, no one is free to think or act as they wish. It’s the complete opposite of Basit’s vision of the world. These terrorist groups target everyone that’s different from them; they don’t care whether you’re Shiite, Christian, Buddhist… In Quetta, Hazara Shiites and Sunnis live quite well side-by-side. There is no sectarianism; there is only terrorism.
“Bombings against Shiite pilgrim buses are becoming more frequent”
Basit had returned from a trip to Karbala, Iraq [a sacred city for Shiites as it is home to the shrine of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad] a week before his death. On Tuesday, he went to pick up friends had just completed the same journey. The road between the Iranian border and Quetta is not at all safe. Bombings on Shiite pilgrim buses that use this road have become more frequent over the past few years, especially on the part near the Afghan border. The Pakistani police is incapable of securing it. Therefore, Basit went to meet his friends at Mastung to help ensure their security.He knew perfectly well what he was doing; he knew it was dangerous for him and his friends. We are deeply saddened by what happened, but Basit always told us that if he was killed, we mustn’t cry and we must continue his work, and that’s what we will do.