Pakistan is not a good place to be a minority, as the beleaguered Hazara community knows all too well. The Hazara are Persian-speaking Shias who emigrated from Afghanistan more than 100 years ago, mainly to Balochistan, the lawless province in Pakistan’s south-west. They have long been the target of a campaign of terror by Sunni militants. In the context of increasing sectarian violence in Pakistan, all Shias face a threat, but the Hazara are marked out easily by their distinctive central Asian features.

Around 500,000 Hazara live in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. According to “We are the Walking Dead”, a report published by Human Rights Watch this year, more than 500 Hazara have been killed in this province since 2008. Some of these incidents – like the two massive suicide bombs that ripped through a Quetta snooker hall in January 2013 and killed 100 – have made international headlines. Others, like the routine execution of individual Hazara by gunmen on motorbikes, do not. The merciless targeting by violent militant groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban mean that in certain areas, simply leaving the house is a major risk for any Hazara. As the report put it: “There is no travel route, no shopping trip, no school run, no work commute that is safe.”

After the January 2013 bombings, the Hazara community in Quetta camped out on the streets in sub-zero conditions, refusing to bury their dead until the government promised them some protection. This candlelit protest showed the world how desperate their situation is: aggressively targeted by militants, but ignored by the government in Islamabad and the international community.

It was against this backdrop that Liaquat Ali Hazara, who comes from Balochistan’s Hazara community, began campaigning in 2009. He was in London, studying for an accountancy diploma, when he founded the Hazara United Movement to draw attention to the plight of his people. He organised protests and sit-ins, wrote for newspapers, and ran a blog. Partly prompted by his activism, the House of Commons last year held a debate on the problems facing the Hazara in Balochistan. But his activities did not go unnoticed at home, either. The death threats began in 2010 and 2011. They came from the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The first were emailed warnings in English. “We will deal with you the same way as we do with your people in Quetta, who are sent to hell,” said one threat. Handwritten letters in Pashto and Urdu soon followed. In September 2012, Hazara claimed asylum.

But, according to the Guardian, the Home Office has ruled that despite the direct and credible threats to his life, he would be safe in other parts of the country. They still plan to fly him back to Quetta, his hometown, where threatening letters have been hand-delivered to the house where his wife and parents live. “I fear they can just “disappear” me from the airport, because they have good contacts with the security people as well, who have been infiltrated by the religious extremists,” he told the Guardian from the detention centre where he is being held.

It is difficult to see how the Home Office can be sure of his safety. There is no doubt that the threats are credible, as the rampant murder of members of this community by the groups issuing the threats shows. Even if he does manage to make it out of Quetta to set up life in another part of Pakistan, there is no guarantee of his safety, as militant groups are active all over the country. Incidents of sectarian violence have been recorded in all the major cities, and some of the emailed death threats were traced to Karachi, hundreds of miles away from Quetta. Hazara has been refused a judicial review into the case. His deportation is scheduled for 21 October. In Quetta, the Hazara graveyard is filling up; a special area dedicated to the victims of targeted killings has been expanded. If the deportation goes ahead, one must hope that Liaquat Ali Hazara does not add to the number of people resting there.