Shahida Raza came from Balochistan, where this Shia ethnic minority is persecuted and in February there has been an increase in violence by the Pakistani Taliban. He was part of a soccer team. So far, 17 migrants from Pakistan have survived the tragedy at sea near Crotone.
Quetta () – Among the 67 migrants killed in the Steccato di Cutro shipwreck in Calabria, southern Italy, there is a Pakistani hockey player. Her name was Shahida Raza, she was 27 years old and belonged to the Hazara ethnic minority, mostly Shiite Islamic and originally from central Afghanistan. She is a community that has always been persecuted and that in Pakistan is concentrated in the city of Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan, where there has been an increase in the number of attacks lately.
Nicknamed Chintoo, Shahida Raza participated in the Asian Hockey Federation Cup in 2009 and 2012, but also played for the Balochistan United women’s soccer team, with whom she participated in eight national championships. A passion, but also an important source of income, according to the Pakistani newspaper Tribune, speaking of her experience in 2013. Indeed, bonus money for outstanding performances ranges from Rs 5,000 to Rs 30,000 in the most important tournaments (approximately from Rs 17 to Rs 105), but the amount allocated to players varies depending on the percentage that the club decides to retain for training. According to a profile prepared by the Quetta Literary Festival to which she was invited in 2022, Raza was also a national and international kung fu champion.
The Prime Minister of Balochistan, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, expressed his “deep sorrow” over the death of the former player, who “illuminated the name of the province and the country in the field of hockey”, while the Pakistani Foreign Ministry reported that Two compatriots who lost their lives in the shipwreck have been recognized by their families. So far there are 17 survivors, while another Pakistani national is still missing.
The story has also refocused public attention on the difficulties facing the Hazaras in Pakistan. The Quetta community has been persecuted by the extremist Sunni group Lashkar-e Jhangvi, an offshoot of the anti-Shia terrorist organization Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which began operating in the 1980s. In January 2013 Lashkar-e Jhangvi claimed responsibility for a bombing in Quetta that killed more than 200 Hazaras, but between 2004 and 2019 it is estimated that more than 2,000 Hazaras were killed.
In February, attacks by the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan or TTP) also increased in Balochistan, where, according to the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, there were at least 22 attacks in which 25 people were killed and 61 injured. . In the last month there have been 58 attacks throughout the country (32% more than in January), a figure not registered since June 2015.