It was amusing as well as educating to see how some urban (seemingly) liberal Pakistani tweeps and media persons uncritically recycled and reported the Amnesty and HRCP’s recent statements on the systematic and ongoing Shia massacres in Pakistan.
While I have already expressed my fellow activists’ and my views on the HRCP’s statement, the aim of this post is to analyze the Amnesty International’s recent statement.
I have now had a chance to read the Amnesty’s statement (21 September 2011) on Shia Massacres in Pakistan.
Here are some comments.
1. The Amnesty’s statement misrepresents the ongoing Shia massacres by the TTP-SSP-LeJ proxies of the Deep State (army-ISI) as ‘sectarian violence’ between Sunni and Shia, a routine law and order issue. Amnesty states: “Continued failure to address sectarian violence will only exacerbate the general breakdown in law and order in Pakistan….Armed clashes between Sunni and Shi’a militant groups have regularly occurred in past decade.” WRONG! There is no Sunni vs Shia sectarianism in Pakistan. SSP-LeJ-TTP-JeM-LeT terrorists DO NOT represent Sunnis. They represent the institution which created them, i.e., Deep State! This point has been clearly explained in the following LUBP post: Intellectual dishonesty in misrepresenting Shia massacres in Pakistan
2. Sam Zarifi of Amnesty says: “an increasing number [of vicitms] have been Shi’a pilgrims”. WRONG! Are Shia of D.I.Khan, Karachi and Kurram Agency pilgrims? Jihadi proxies of the Deep State are killing Shia Muslims indiscriminately in all places, professions, regions and events.
3. The Amnesty’s statement wrongly places the responsibility at the civilian government while knowing that the civilian government itself is a hostage to and a victim of the Deep State (e.g., murders of Benazir Bhutto, Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti by the footsoldiers of the Deep State). Amnesty states: “These attacks prove that without an urgent and comprehensive government response, no place is safe for the Shi’a”. Government can’t do much against its own killers, Mr. Zarifi. Speak about the Deep State please!
4. “…security forces have abdicated their responsibility to defend everyone in the society”. Abdication? Pakistan’s security forces (army/ISI) are complicit to the TTP-SSP-LeJ monsters who are killing not only Shia Muslims but also Ahmadis, Christians, Barelvis and other communities.
5. Amnesty recommends “bring the perpetrators to justice in fair trials”. Of course, the Amnesty is oblivious to the institutional love affair between Pakistan’s ISI-backed judiciary and jihadi/sectarian monsters, e.g., the release of Hafiz Saeed, Malik Ishaq, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, Mullahs of the Red Mosque etc by Pakistani courts.
6. Amnesty’s statement fails to highlight the true magnitude of systematic and ongoing Shia massacres in Pakistan; it does not provide any data on the total number of Shias killed in various parts of Pakistan since 1985 or in the last five years.
To summarize, Amnesty’s statement is deficient in many respects. Most importantly it masks the ugly role played by the army and judiciary in keeping the Shia massacres alive in Pakistan.
Deflecting the criticism
In the light of recent events, it is possible to identify three deflecting tactics by some (not all) representatives of HRW, HRCP and Amnesty in Pakistan and their flatterers in reaction to our criticism of their (non-)statements. Let me summarize:
1. Definitional and technical issues: Instead of focusing on the core issue, i.e., the non-reporting or misrepresentation of the Shia massacres, they focus on the inaccuracy of the term Shia genocide. Whatever they call it, genocide or target killings or massacres, they need to collect and publish data and highlight this issue in the international media!
2. They resort to ad hominem and harassment, focusing on the persons criticizing their statements or lack of action, instead of the content of the critique. (They resort to dehumanizing as well as locating the identity of the critics with an implicit intention to put their critics in harm’s way.)
3. They resort to straw man, e.g. by eulogizing I.A. Rehman and Asma Jahangir, who were not even mentioned in our criticism of the HRCP statement, while clearly ignoring the specific criticism on recent statements and lack of action.
I invite the researchers and defendants of Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, HRCP etc to compare their recent statements (in fact non-statements) on Shia killings in Pakistan with the bold statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) which not only provides a bigger picture of the scale of Shia massacres in Pakistan but also identifies the Deep State (army and its subsidiaries including judiciary and mullahs) as responsible for such massacres.
At the very least, Amnesty, HRW, HRCP could take some lesson and courage from the following editorial which was published in The News, a daily newspaper with known inclinations towards Pakistan’s military establishment. The editorial is clearly much more bold, honest and objective than the HRCP’s and Amnesty’s weak statements. Please read the editorial and decide yourself:
Thursday, September 22, 2011
September has proven the cruellest month for the Hazara tribe in Balochistan. This Tuesday, a bus carrying Shia pilgrims to Iran was intercepted by armed men who lined up the travellers and shot 26 of them dead in cold blood in Mastung. In September last year, 65 Shias were killed in Quetta when a procession became the target of a bomb blast. This May 6, six members of the Hazara Shia community were gunned down while another seven were killed on May 18. In June a Hazara policeman was killed only two days before Olympian boxer Syed Abrar Hussain was shot dead. The list of attacks is long but only one group has claimed responsibility: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. In the ever-deteriorating security conditions in Balochistan, sectarian outfits have found the perfect playground. The Hazara community has been the target of violence since the mid-1980s though the attacks have intensified since 2000 when their top leader Sardar Nisar Ali Hazara was gunned down in Quetta.
According to confessions of arrested LeJ activists, independent experts as well as the Hazara Shias themselves, the violence against them is not ethnic but sect-based. The Hazaras, divided between the Alamdar Road in the east and Hazara Town in the west of the city, feel cut-off and besieged in the wake of the violent attacks on them. Representatives of the Hazara Democratic Party have repeatedly informed the provincial home department and the IG police that extremists are planning to step up attacks against them. But not much action seems to have been taken. All Hazara killings during May and June this year took place only a small distance from security check posts. The LeJ has given the Hazaras an open deadline to leave the province by 2012 and has warned of further attacks. But the police have still remained helpless, leaving the Hazara community to believe that the security establishment is protecting the perpetrators. The mysterious escape of the local head of the LeJ, Usman Saifullah, and a key leader, Shafiq Rind, from a very well guarded Anti-Terrorist Force jail in Quetta Cantonment, is a case in point. A deadly pattern is emerging: terrorists are on a murderous rampage against Pakistan’s minority sects while authorities have failed to prove themselves capable of taking them on.
If a pro-establishment newspaper could publish a bold editorial highlighting the ongoing and systematic scale of the Shia massacres and the dubious role of the security forces, why could not HRCP and Amnesty highlight these issues in their formal statements? Are they incompetent or compromised? We leave this to the judgement of critical readers.
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