What can Pakistan and the entire world learn from Pakistani Shias?

by admin

Related article:

The Shia Question

I clearly remember how in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London by Islamofascists (brainwashed by an extremist Deobandi/Wahhabi version of Islam), Londoners refused to give up their lifestyle, the majority of London schools remained open, public services remained available and the message from most London boroughs was business as usual.

One may differ with the then Prime Minister Tony Blair on many accounts but I have high appreciation for his clearly articulated message to the people of Britain on 7/7:

First, he did not generalize the attackers:

“We know that these people act in the name of Islam but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims here and abroad are decent and law-abiding people who abhor those who do this every bit as much as we do.”

Second, he urged Londoners to carry on with their everyday life:

“…I think we all know what they are trying to do. They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, trying to stop us from going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do and they should not and they must not succeed. When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed.”

This brings me to the core point of this post.

For the last thirty years, since the inauspicious days of military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq who sowed the seeds of religious sectarianism in Pakistan by patronizing a narrow Wahhabi-Deobandi version of Islam while persecuting the minority sects, Pakistani Shias have remained subject to continuous persecution, harassment, hate speech and violence by various jihadi and sectarian proxies of the State, i.e., the Sipah-e-Sahaba, Taliban, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbullah, Lashkar-e-Taiba etc.

Thousands of Shias have been killed in the last thirty years in all parts of Pakistan most notably in Parachinar, Quetta, Jhang, Dera Ismail Khan, Multan, Karachi, Lahore, Kohat, Hangu, Gilgit-Baltistan etc.

Their only crime? They practice a faith (belief in Imams instead of Caliphs) which is different from the majority Sunni belief.

Yet, while the majority of moderate Sunnis and Shias are tolerant of each other’s ideological differences, the extremist Deobandi and Wahhabi mercenaries of the GHQ consider it their strategic as well as ideological duty to harass, attack and kill Shia Muslims. They consider Shias as heretics, infidel (kafir) and Jewish agents (Sabaai).

Over the last many decades, Shia Muslims in Pakistan have been massacred in their mosques, imambarghas, funerals, marriages, political meetings and jirgahs. They have not been spared in their offices, schools and colleges, transports, not even inside their houses.

Yet, one must salute Pakistani Shias for their resolve, their firm commitment to their lifestyle and traditions, their refusal to give in to all forms of violence and harassment by the extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis who are in turn mentored, supported and protected by a ruthless State.

In Muharram each year, every Shia knows that the majlis they are going to attend, or the juloos they are participating on Ashura, may be subject to a violent attack by a suicide bomber.

Every year, extremist Deobandi and Wahhabi mullahs issue fatwas (religious decrees) against the Shia rituals of Ashura.

Every year, terrorists of the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba issue ultimatum that Shia gatherings during Ashura will be attacked.

Yet the Shias of Pakistan have consistently refused to give in. They have refused to cave in to the demands and tactics of extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis.

This point was neatly highlighted by Batool Zehra:

…no one is really in doubt about how vulnerable the Ashura procession is this year. In their majalis, Shia clerics have been philosophic about the possibility of suicide bombing, acknowledging that while safeguards have been taken, the threat by its very nature cannot be eliminated by better security.

Come Ashura and each mourner or ‘azadar’ on the long stretch of M A Jinnah Road (in Karachi) is more than a mourner — he is a protester and also a fighter. When the azadar walk out of their homes and join the procession, it is with the understanding that, had they been present at the battle of Karbala, they would have formed part of Imam Hussain’s (RA) army. To a follower, there are no anachronisms.

The Ashura procession is a concrete recreation to the idea that evil, even if it were to hide behind piety, behind religious facades, must be identified and exposed. And if the procession today is Imam Hussain’s (RA) lashkar, then in many ways, the Taliban today in their excesses, rigidity and barbaric cruelty still broadly embody the characteristics — intolerance, cruelty and a penchant for barbarism — of the Imam’s enemies.

Those who suggest that the processions should not take place, are missing the essential point. The Taliban attack not just lives, but a way of life, and it is the latter which must be protected, and which needs to survive. As hundreds of empty schools in Fata and Balochistan testify, it is all too easy to relinquish a way of life in an ultimately empty bid to protect lives. While the fear of bombing is palpable, there aren’t many today who are debating whether or not to go to the procession this year.

Let me once again recall Blair’s words to highlight what Pakistani Shias have been experiencing and courageously demonstrating in the last many years:

“I think we all know what they are trying to do. They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, trying to stop us from going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do and they should not and they must not succeed. When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed.”

Through this post on the eve of Ahsura 1432 AH, I wish to pay my tribute to Pakistani Shias, those who sacrificed their lives in the Pakistani nation’s war against extremist Deobandi / Wahhabi ideology and those who still continue to challenge Yazid and its progeny in Pakistan.

Shia mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, all of them know they or their dear and near ones might be killed by extremist Deobandis, yet they have demonstrated to the Pakistani nation and the entire world the true way to deal with terrorism, i.e., through perseverance, sacrifice and a firm resolve to carry on with the business as usual.

My salute to Pakistani Shias. My salute to all those individuals, groups and communities in Pakistan including Sunnis and Shias, Christians and Ahmadis, Hindus and Sikhs, who are facing the brunt of extremist Deobandi (and to a lesser extent Wahhabi) violence but they have refused to surrender to the terrorists’ aims and demands.

To Pakistani Shias and all those who stand by individuals’ and communities’ right to practice a faith of their own choice, let me dedicate the following Noha by legendary Sachay Bhai of Karachi:

Ooncha rahay apna alam…

14 Comments to “What can Pakistan and the entire world learn from Pakistani Shias?”

  1. Acts of violence by extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis must not disunite Sunnis and Shias.

    Let’s take example from the following response by British Muslims to the events of 7/7:

    ‘It will not divide us, but will unite our communities’
    As British Muslims fear reprisals following the bombings in London, Katherine Demopoulos hears from those attending the East London Mosque for Friday prayers

    Society Guardian, Friday 8 July 2005

    The service started much like any other. Chatting quietened to whispers and an occasional cough. Two or three latecomers filed in. A mix of prayer caps could be seen, one lilac, one red, but mostly white. Some heads were uncovered and the ubiquitous hoodie was also in evidence. Everything seemed normal, aside from the phalanx of journalists watching from the gallery.

    This is the media-savvy East London mosque, close to Aldgate station where one bomb went off. Yesterday, the mosque welcomed the injured through its doors for tea and refreshments, and received a request from the local Royal London hospital in Whitechapel to be on standby as a centre for giving blood.

    Today, a media team organised press conferences and interviews around Friday prayers, and even the sermon contained a warning to journalists from Imam Shaykh Abdul-Qayyum to report accurately.

    In a brief sermon, he called on people to work to maintain harmony between religions and to celebrate multicultural London. A joint statement from Muslims, Anglicans, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews and Roman Catholics said they were “united in condemning the outrageous acts of terror”, and the mosque’s director, Dilowar Hussain Khan, talked of the events bringing all communities together. “It will not divide us, but will unite the communities in London.”

    That sentiment was echoed by Heba Al-Naseri, a doctor at Newham University hospital, who volunteered at the Royal London yesterday and treated victims with minor injures. “We’re all in this together,” she said. “We’re all Londoners.”


  2. Hotay rahay bazoo qalam

    A grenade attack killed one child and wounded 28 people, including women and children, at a Muharram procession Thursday on the eve of Ashura in Peshawar, reported Express 24/7 correspondent Iftikhar Firdous.

    “Twenty-five injured were brought to our hospital. There are women and children among them. One child is in a serious condition,” said Abdul Hamid Afridi, head of the city’s Lady Reading Hospital.

    According to Express 24/7 correspondent Omar Farooq, three of the injured, including one child, were in critical conditions when they were brought into Lady
    Reading Hospital.

    “It was a grenade attack,” Peshawar administration chief Mohammad Siraj told AFP, adding that police had failed to arrest the culprit.


  3. Progeny of Yazid, children of Mufti Taqi Usmani and Mufti Naeem:

    Police in Karachi on Wednesday foiled a terror plot planned for the ninth and tenth of Muharram when they arrested three suspected members of the banned outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.


  4. Violence in Muharram


    An Ashura procession in Karachi on December 16, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

    The month of Muharram that once brought Muslims of all religious denominations together under the symbolic flag of Imam Hussain’s martyrdom, has become a season of violence. This year, the government is spending billions of rupees cordoning off imambargahs and procession routes with the help of the police and rangers to protect the Shia community.

    Last year, Ashura processions were attacked in many cities, including Lahore, where such incidents had been unknown. Karachi saw people dying from suicide bombings twice, once on the occasion of Ashura and the second time on the occasion of Chaliswan (the fortieth day of Martyrdom). The cities that lie along the road that goes from Peshawar to Kurram Agency were always under threat because of the Sunni-Shia admixture there and the persisting parallel writ of the Taliban over them.

    Quetta in Balochistan, where the Hazara-Shia community is ghettoised and therefore easy to target, is once again tense as the much-weakened provincial government ensures safety to the processionists of Imam Hussain. Much violence has occurred there and in the Shia-majority areas of Parachinar in Kurram Agency and in Gilgit–Baltistan. Parachinar has been cut off from the rest of Pakistan for the past two to three years because the Tehreek-i-Taliban, and particularly Hakeemullah Mehsud, have been killing people on the basis of sect for the past decade.

    Why has Muharram become such a season of tragedies for us? The people of Pakistan are not fired by sectarian hatred. Wherever there is no clerical or terrorist coercion, they coexist happily and, not so far back in the past, used to intermarry as well. Scholars who have investigated the closing of the Pakistani mind agree that Pakistan’s sectarian war is a relocated conflict and is a radiation from the fire that was lit in the Middle East and the Gulf when Arab leadership passed from secular leaders to religious ones, and Iran arose as the champion of the scattered Shia communities in the region.

    One can date the participation of the state in sectarianism under General Zia in this relocated war. He got the Zakat Ordinance promulgated in 1980 and wrongly applied it to the Shia on the advice — and draft of the law itself — of an Arab jurist sent to Islamabad by Saudi Arabia. In 1987, General Zia allowed the mujahideen fighting the war against the Soviet Union to attack two Shia strongholds, Kurram and Gilgit-Baltistan.

    In the 1980s, Maulana Manzur Numani (Deobandi) of a famous Lucknow madrassa was paid by Rabita al-Alam-e-Islami to get fatwas of Shia apostatisation issued from the madrassas of Pakistan.

    Numani wrote a book Khumaini aur Shia kay barah mein Ulama-e-Karam ka Mutafiqqa Faisala (Consensual Resolution of the Clerical Leaders about Khomeini and Shiism) and this was widely circulated in Pakistan.

    The Iraq-Iran war poisoned minds in the region, and organisations linked to jihad began carrying out punishments in light of these fatwas. In 2003, when the Shia Hazaras were massacred in Quetta it was revealed that the fatwas from the major Deobandi seminaries were in circulation in the city before the massacre, but no one took notice. In fact, the Hazaras later put the fatwas on their website straight from the 1988 collection of Manzur Numani, but again the jihad-weakened state took no notice.

    There are two ways the state will ‘exclude’ its unfavoured communities. One is by apostatising the identity of a community it thinks deviant; the other by intensifying the identity of the majority community. Both these processes have been resorted to. The Shia have responded by retreating into the non-consensual (with Sunnis) aspects of their religion and fear losing everything if they don’t do this. This conflict is at times bilateral but in most cases it is unilateral, with terrorists killing innocent Shias.

    But Karachi, more than any other city, has the potential of being the largest and most fearsome arena of this battle.

    WikiLeaks has revealed that the region of origin of this conflict is still embroiled in sectarian politics. As Iran moves towards its nuclear objectives, the ‘relocated war’ of Pakistan will move up the graph of intensity. And the state in Pakistan is too weak to look after its people.

    Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2010.


  5. Full Script of Tony Blair’s Speech

    ‘We will hold true to the British way of life’
    A statement by the prime minister, Tony Blair, made in Downing Street after he returned to the capital from the G8 summit in Scotland after today’s bomb attacks in London

    Press Association
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 7 July 2005 16.36 BST

    This is a terrible and tragic atrocity that has cost many innocent lives. I have just attended a meeting of the government’s emergency committee. I received a full report from the ministers and officials responsible.
    There will be an announcement made in respect of the various services, in particular we hope the Underground as far as is possible and rail and bus services are up and running as soon as possible.

    I would like again to express my profound condolences to the families of the victims and to those who are casualties of this terrorist act. I would also like to thank the emergency services that have been magnificent today in every respect.

    There, of course, will now be the most intense police and security service action to make sure we bring those responsible to justice. I would also pay tribute to the stoicism and resilience of the people of London who have responded in a way typical of them.

    In addition, I welcome the statement put out by the Muslim Council who know that those people acted in the name of Islam but who also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims, here and abroad, are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this act of terrorism every bit as much as we do.

    It’s through terrorism that the people that have committed this terrible act express their values and it’s right at this moment that we demonstrate ours.

    I think we all know what they are trying to do, they are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal as we are entitled to do and they should not and must not succeed.

    When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated, when they seek to change our country, our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed. When they try to divide our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve will hold firm.

    We will show by our spirit and dignity and by a quiet and true strength that there is in the British people, that our values will long outlast theirs. The purpose of terrorism is just that, it is to terrorise people and we will not be terrorised.

    I would like once again to express my sympathy and sorrow for those families that will be grieving so unexpectedly and tragically tonight. This is a very sad day for the British people but we will hold true to the British way of life.


  6. Extremist Deobandis/Wahhabis attack Shia houses in Hangu, 9 people killed:

    Rockets Fired in Hangu, 9 People Killed Special

    17 December 2010

    Hangu – Rockets fired on Hangu’s Shia’s neighborhoods kill 9 people on Ashora day, this morning . The dead include a woman and two children.
    Despite tight security measures on Ashora (10th of Moharram) today in Hangu city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 200 km from the federal capital Islamabad, attacks were made on Shia community by means of rockets fired in the morning. The attacks killed at least 9 people according to local sources.
    The rockets were fired early in the morning before the Ashora procession. Local sources say that four rockets were fired and they fell on houses in residential areas of Shia community. Neighborhoods that were hit by the rockets include Malik Abad and Kwurmawalu Kalay (Shahu Road). The rockets are said to have been fired from the hills falling in Orakzai Agency area surrounding the town on its northern extremity.
    “Among the nine civilians killed, there is a woman two children,” told local journalist Abdul Munaim Khan.
    Details about the Ashora procession, led by the Shia community on Ashora, were not available immediately but it is thought the procession was rushed out into the open and then hurried back to sheltered places.
    As of now, the town is under a curfew, not officially announced. Cell Phone communication still remains blocked while PTCL/landlines are working. No sectarian clashes have so far erupted and people are worriedly praying for peace to prevail.

    Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/301509#ixzz18MYK9YXL

  7. All the sec should be free to practice their faith but using it to get the power makes problem .
    practice faith but without spreading hatred ,i think very few religious groups do not spread hatred , Extremist Wahabi ,Deobandi ,Brelvi or shia all use hatred against each other .

  8. Ashura Commemorations Around The World
    Recorded 16 December 2010

  9. Pakistani nation will not surrender to terrorists

    عبادتگاہوں پر حملوں میں 365 پاکستانی جاں بحق ہوئے

    لاہور (عامر میر) 2010ء کے 350 دنوں کے دوران دہشتگردی کے 12 خونی واقعات میں مجموعی طور پر 356 پاکستانی جاں بحق اور 612 سے زائد زخمی ہو چکے ہیں اور دہشتگرد عناصر مساجد، امام بارگاہوں، مزارات، مدارس سمیت ملک بھر میں عبادت گاہوں کو نشانہ بنا رہے ہیں اور ان عبادت گاہوں کو اس وقت ہدف بنانے کا رجحان بڑھ رہا ہے مسجدیں نماز کے وقت عبادت گزاروں سے بھری ہوتی ہیں وزارت داخلہ کی طرف سے جمع کئے گئے اعداد و شمار کے مطابق یکم جنوری سے 15 دسمبر 2010 ء کے درمیان 12 حملوں میں اوسطاً ماہانہ 30 افراد ہلاک ہوئے ان میں سے زیادہ تر حملے کالعدم تحریک طالبان نے کئے۔ رواں سال کے ان حملوں میں اوسطاً 350 دنوں کے دوران ہر روز ایک شخص جاں بحق ہوا دستیاب اعداد و شمار کے مطابق امریکہ میں نائن الیون کے دہشتگردانہ حملوں اور اس کے نتیجے میں افغانستان پر امریکہ کی چڑھائی کے بعد سے ایسے 65 حملوں میں اب تک 1500 پاکستانی ہلاک اور 2 ہزار زخمی ہوئے ہیں۔ اس حوالے سے سب سے زیادہ 21 حملے خیبر پختونخو اہ میں ہوئے دوسرے نمبر پر پنجاب رہا جہاں 17 حملے ہوئے اس کے بعد سندھ میں 11 فاٹا میں 11 بلوچستان میں 4 اور آزادکشمیر میں ایک دہشت گردانہ حملہ ہوا مذکورہ بالا زیادہ تر حملے نوعیت کے اعتبار سے فرقہ وارانہ تھے، ان میں کالعدم سپاہ صحابہ کالعدم لشکر جھنگوی، کالعدم جیش محمد، جماعت الفرقان، حرکت الجہاد الاسلامی اور لشکر اسلامی ملوث تھیں، متاثرین میں بیشتر شیعہ بریلوی اور قادیانی شامل تھے جو اس بات کا واضح عندیہ ہے کہ جناح کا پاکستان ایک برداشت نہ کرنے والی قوم میں بدل چکا ہے جہاں اقلیتیں خوف میں رہ رہی ہیں۔ 18 فروری کو 2010 ء کو مسجد پر پہلا حملہ ہوا جس میں اس وقت 38 افراد جاں بحق اور 121 زخمی ہوئے جب خودکش حملہ آور نے خیبر ایجنسی کی وادی تیراہ کے علاقے اکاخیل کی مسجد کے داخلی راستے پر خود کو دھماکے سے اڑا دیا تھا 28 مئی کو لاہور کے علاقے گڑھی شاہو اور ماڈل ٹاؤن میں نماز جمعہ کے دوران کالعدم تحریک طالبات سے تعلق رکھنے والے حملہ آوروں نے قادیانیوں کی عبادت گاہوں کو نشانہ بنایا جس میں 114 افراد ہلاک اور 117 زخمی ہوئے تھے۔گڑھی شاہو میں 84 اور ماڈل ٹاؤن میں 30 افراد ہلاک ہوئے تھے یکم جولائی کو لاہور میں د اتا دربار کے اندر خودکش دھماکوں میں 51 افراد شہید اور 121 زخمی ہوئے ایک حملہ آور نے خود کو دربار کے تہہ خانہ اور دوسرے نے اپنے آپ کو دربار کے صحت میں زائرین کے درمیان دھماکوں سے اڑایا، 14 جولائی کو پانچویں واقعہ میں لنڈی کوتل میں مسجد کے اندر دھماکے سے 3 افراد جاں بحق اور 5 زخمی ہوئے 4 روز بعد ہی 18 جولائی کو چھٹے واقعہ میں سرگردھا کی ایک امام بارگاہ کے باہر خودکش دھماکے میں 5 افراد جاں بحق اور 22 زخمی ہوئے 23 اگست کو ساتویں واقعہ میں وانا میں مسجد کے اندر خودکش دھماکے میں سابق رکن قومی اسمبلی سمیت 36 افراد جاں بحق اور 43 زخمی ہوئے 26 ستمبر کو آٹھویں واقعہ میں بہالپور کی مسجد پر حملے میں 3 افراد جاں بحق اور 11 زخمی ہوئے 7 اکتوبر کو کراچی میں عبداللہ شاہ غازی کے مزار پر خودکش حملوں میں 17 افراد شہید اور 72 زخمی ہوئے یہ نواں واقعہ تھا 25 اکتوبر کو دسویں واقعہ میں میں پاکپتن میں حضرت بابا فرید گنج شکر کے مزار کے مشرقی دروازے پر بم پھٹنے سے 8 افراد جاں بحق 12 زخمی ہوئے۔5 نومبر کو درہ آدم خیل کی مسجد میں نماز جمعہ کے دوران 16 سالہ بمبار نے خود کو دھماکے سے اڑا دیا جس سے 76 افراد شہیدا ور 82 زخمی ہوئے بارہویں واقعہ میں 5 نومبر کو ہی پشاور کے علاقے بڈھ بیر کی مسجد پر دستی بم حملے میں 5 افراد جاں بحق اور 17 زخمی ہوئے تھے۔


  10. Sharmila urges to follow Karbala martyrs’ lesson of peace

    KARACHI: Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Information and Archives Sharmila Farooqi while paying rich tributes to Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions who waged a holy war against tyrant forces for safeguarding Islam, said that their sacrifices of lives were for peace and well-being of humanity. In a message on the Youm-e-Ashura issued here on Thursday, Sharmila said the nation should follow the lesson of sacrifice given by Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions in Karbala for the welfare of the humanity and durable peace in the world. The adviser said that the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) provided social system with human dignity and high moral values of collective welfare. She said and asked the people to shun their ethnic and all other differences to promote peace for larger socio-economic development in the country. Sharmila said Imam Hussain (AS) protected the rights of the people at large by not bowing before tyrant forces and upheld the mission of his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for peace and human welfare. The adviser said Muharram taught us the lesson of sacrifice, tolerance and fight against injustice and barbarism. “This is the month in which Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed his life for the cause of Islam and did not compromise on the principles of truth and justice. The example of sacrifice, set by Imam Hussain (AS), cannot be found in any other religion of the world,” she said. Sharmila said, “The best way to pay homage to the sacrifices of Karbala martyrs is to shun sectarian and other prejudices. Muslims should have a firm belief that evil can never surpass the truth. Let us pledge to maintain harmony in our ranks in accordance with golden principles of Islam.” The adviser said that the time had come to rise above petty differences, narrow-mindedness for welfare of humanity and peace in the world. “The martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions is remembered whenever a conflict between right and wrong takes place and people still follow the spirit of Karbala martyrs and achieve big success,” she observed. ppi

  11. Followers of Yazid and Mufti Taqi Usmani (extremist Deobandis) attack the followers of Imam Hussain:

    Muharram procession attack foiled

    17 Dec 2010

    SHIKARPUR: Security guards shot dead an attacker as he tried to enter an Ashura procession underway in Shikarpur on Friday.
    The attacker managed to explode the grenade before he died, injuring four people, including a police official, in a village near Khanpur .

    The grenade attack targeted an Ashura procession underway. Earlier today, a mortar attack killed six people in Hangu as Shia Muslims marked Ashura.

    Tens of thousands of paramilitary guards and police were deployed across the country to guard Shiite rallies on Ashura, the climax of Muharram.

  12. Show of numerical strength is not important, the message is much more powerful.

    Katri Bawa – Parho La Ilah Illallah – Nauha

  13. Minorities Under Siege
    The suggestion, even if well-intended, that the communities being targeted by terrorists should voluntarily restrict their activities in the open, could have far-reaching adverse consequences.

    After the carnage at the Karbala Gamay Shah, Lahore and Meezan Chowk, Quetta on September 3, some television anchors and some in the print media would have one believe that if only the organizers of the Quetta procession had stopped a few yards short, the slaughter of some 60 people including two media-men would have been averted.

    For example, Mr Ahmed Quraishi, blogging for The Express Tribune, wrote this past weekend:

    “It is important that non-religious and non-essential public events in Pakistan – political and religious – be curtailed under these circumstances, regardless of sect and politics. If the government and the army can call off parades on days of national significance, including Independence Day, then unnecessary public congregations can be curtailed as well”

    While pointing the finger of blame at the elusive Indo-Zionist operatives, Mr Quraishi was essentially echoing a statement made by the federal interior minister Rehman Malik who has suggested for the communities under attack to (voluntarily) restrict their activities in the open. Mr Malik has made these atrocities sound like a breakdown in police-public relationship rather than a significant aspect of the ongoing war against terror. Such off-the-cuff remarks by government officials could have far-reaching adverse consequences and may even contribute to further marginalizing and even ostracizing the communities already under attack.

    Given the history and nature of the violence against the non-Wahabi sections of the Pakistani population and the abysmal record of the administration to bring to justice even a single mastermind or perpetrator of the atrocities, Mr Malik’s advice carries zero credibility with the affected communities. Needless to say that the Ahmadiyyas praying at their Lahore mosques had not violated any police cordon, the Hanafi-Barelvi-Sufi followers of Data Ganj Bakhsh had not brought out any procession and the women shoppers at Peshawar’s Meena Bazar were not out expressing solidarity with Palestine, when they were brutally massacred by the Wahabists.

    Unlike the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, no state-sanctioned anti-Shiite doctrine exists in Pakistan. However, the interior minister’s advice, perhaps given in good faith, is perceived as an attempt to replicate the Saudi model, where after violently targeting the minorities for years, the open observance of their faith was severely curtailed. In Saudi Arabia, the Shiite are considered Kafir (infidels) and mubdi’un (heretics or innovators) who should be converted to the “right” path (of Islam) i.e. Wahabism and attacks on their life and property are permissible (halal) in such attempts to convert. A systematic cycle of fatwas against the Shiite followed by physical violence has achieved the desired result of ghettoisation of the Shiites in the Kingdom. For three decades, the anti-Shia fatwas and violence have raged on in Pakistan; it should not be a surprise if they fear ghettoisation too.

    The Lashkar-e-Jhangavi al-Aalami, while taking credit for the Lahore and Quetta bloodbath, has also warned against any future Shiite processions, just like their Taliban cohorts had warned the women of Swat against going to school or for shopping. The state machinery had capitulated then, only to see the emboldened barbarians demand more control and more territory. The height of naïveté would be to assume that confining the Shiite indoors would satisfy the jihadists for good. It is equally naïve, nay, irrational to dismiss the issue as a local police matter with the usual “law and order” implications.

    In his 1888 short story “On the City Wall”, Rudyard Kipling mentions the police preparations in advance of the Muharram processions in the walled city of Lahore:

    “Their passage is rigorously laid down beforehand by the Police, and detachments of Police accompany each tazias, lest the Hindus should throw bricks at it … Mohurrum time in a “fighting” town means anxiety to all the officials, because, if a riot breaks out, the officials and not the rioters are held responsible.”

    There is no doubt that for years the Pakistani police have gone beyond the call of duty to work out the details of security arrangements at the Muharram or Rabi-ul-Awal processions. Indeed, officers like Khan Raaziq, the IGP Malik Saad and scores of policemen sacrificed their lives while carrying out such duties. The Pakistanis in general and the Shiite in particular owe a lot of their leftover freedoms to these fine men.

    The tele-media’s lazy gimmick of grilling the police officers after the areas under their supervision are bombed or Mr Rehman Malik’s remedy of negotiating the procession routes and the code of conduct etc. and for that matter banishing the activity altogether from the public domain, is more in sync with what Kipling wrote more than a century ago. Lest they missed the happenings in the interim, the paradigm of sectarian persecution has undergone a massive change; it is not even the same as two decades ago let alone the 19th century brick batting.

    Having started as the anti-Shiite terrorism of the 1980s and 1990s, the Wahabist violence against all groups that they consider heretic, is now a fully matured front in their global jihadist war. The violence against the Shiite, the Hanafi-Barelvis, the Sufis and the Ahmadiyya is not random and is perpetrated not just by the young suicide bombers. Battle-hardened, war-trained and thoroughly indoctrinated jihadists plan such attacks months in advance. To expect the police to counter this vast jihadist network in the usual course would be unfair to both the police and the populace. There is little doubt that during wartime, extra-ordinary measures must be adopted. But that requires building a national consensus with all stakeholders, including the affected communities. There are multiple examples where organizers of religious events have worked closely with the law enforcement agencies to modify or even suspend their activity due to the warlike situation.

    Being in a war or warlike situation also begs the question as to what role, if any, have the country’s armed forces played on this front, other than cancelling the 23rd of March parade? If the three-year old siege of the Shiite part of the tribal Kurram Agency by the Taliban is anything to go by, the role of the armed forces is rather disappointing. While the Parachinar-Peshawar road route is open in theory, the Shiite from Kurram are still forced to travel to Kabul for an onward journey to Peshawar. But then it took the Pakistan Army good two years to move against Mullah Fazlullah in Swat.

    Most leaders of the Pakistani jihadist-terrorist outfits, including the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, are the alumni of the Wahabist Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and its offshoots like Lashkar-e-Jhangavi. They work hand-in-glove with the al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, especially the Haqqani network and the Quetta Shura. While the Pakistan Army continues to boast victories in the war against terrorism, its inaction in face of the jihadist violence against the non-Wahhabi population raises serious concerns about such claims.

    Peter Gourevitch notes that “the dead are innocent, the killers monstrous, and the surrounding politics insane or nonexistent” (in We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda). When the Taliban were ravaging Swat, the politics of resisting them appeared nonexistent. The media then, especially the English newspapers, did an admirable job of building the political and military will to fight the jihadists. Banishing the minorities has never stopped the fascists. One hopes that the Pakistani leaders and media call for banishing the barbarians, not their victims.

    Dr Mohammad Taqi teaches and practices Medicine at the University of Florida.


    SEP 09, 2010

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