Picture Source: Attack on a Shia funeral in D.I. Khan
Who is being killed: Shia Muslims. Shia Muslims are being killed only because of their faith identity (i.e., Shia sect). Shias of all ethnic groups across Pakistan (including Punjabi, Pashtoon, Sindhi, Baloch, Muhajir, Hazara, Gilgiti, Balti etc) are being equally targeted. Contrary to what some ethnic groups claim (e.g. some Hazara nationalist leaders in Quetta who due to political expediency or ISI’s influence give it an ethnic colour), Shias of all ethnicities are being target killed across Pakistan.
Why are Shias being killed? Shias are being killed because of two reasons: sectarian and political. (1) Sectarian reasons: According to extremely sectarian Doebandi organizations (Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (also camouflaged as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi LeJ), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), Jundullah, Taliban etc) Shias are infidels (kafir) and a Jewish inspired deviation of Islam (Sabai Fitna). The militant Deobandi organizations are in turn influenced by the anti-Shia ideology imported from Salafi (Wahhabi) mullahs of Saudi Arabi. (2) Political reasons: Shias are also being killed due to political reasons because Pakistan’s military establishment considers Shia Muslims as a major obstruction in the way of Pakistan army’s international Jihadist agenda. Not unlike moderate Barelvis, Shia Muslims have refused to participate in Pakistan army sponsored Jihadi-militant activities in Afghanistan, India and other countries. Pashtoon Shias of Parachinar and Hazara Shias of Balochistan (as well as Afghanistan) have refused to surrender to radical Deobandi-Wahhabi Jihadi-sectarian militants sponsored by Pakistan army.
Who is killing Shias? Contrary to what Shia mullahs and activists usually allege, Shias are not being target killed by Wahhabi or Salafi terrorists, at least not directly. In almost all of the instances, foots soldiers of SSP-ASWJ-LeJ are involved in Shia killings in Pakistan. Almost all of the terrorists who are practically involved in Shia killings are radicalized Deobandis who work in one or more than one Deobandi organizations including Taliban, SSP, LeJ, ASWJ, JeM etc. The boundaries between these organizations are amorphous and overlapping. In other words, a radical Deobandi terrorist may kill a Shia Muslim one day in Karachi as a part of the SSP-ASWJ network, and the next week he may be busy in fighting the NATO forces in Kandahar under the Taliban banner. (It must be noted that radical Deobandi militants are only a minority group; they do not represent the majority of Deobandis who are as peaceful and moderate as are other Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadis etc.)
Who is the mastermind behind Shia killing? Contrary to what Iranian foreign policy-influenced Shia mullahs might claim, USA and Israel have no role in Shia killings in Pakistan, at least not directly. The Shia killing is being enabled by Pakistan army because it provides major infrastructural and organizational support to anti-Shia Jihadi-sectarian groups in terms of their training, provision of arms, protection from arrest and courts, censorship in media etc. Currently, Pakistan army is enabling further Shia killings by supporting the Defence of Pakistan Council (Difa-e-Pakistan) which is a union of vehemently anti-Shia Deobandis and Wahhabi organizations (including SSP-ASWJ-Lej and JuD-LeT). The ideological and financial support to radical Deobandi organizations (the foot soldiers) is being provided by governmental and non-governmental Salafi-Wahhabi organizations of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
What can Pakistan’s Shias do to save themselves from further killings?
- Apply for licensed (legal) weapons and forcefully defend themselves in case any ASWJ-LeJ-SSP terrorist attacks them in their offices, cars, mosques, markets, religious gatherings etc
- Clearly identify the killers (foot soldiers are brainwashed, radicalized Deobandis; protectors and supporters of killers are Pakistan army generals; financiers of killers are Salafi-Wahhabi mullahs of Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf countries);
- Clearly highlight the identity of the killed community (Shias are being target killed not due to their ethnicity but due to their faith);
- Reject the sold out ethnic leaders (e.g., some Hazara national leaders with known links with Pakistan’s military establishment) as well as sold out Shia Mullahs (e.g., those who want to promote Iranian foreign policy at the cost of Pakistani Shias’ lives). Both of these groups (ethnic leaders and Iranian-influenced mullahs) are not helping Shias in clearly identifying the killed and the killers.
- Organize and present reliable data on attacks on and murders of Shia Muslims (date, place, event, number of killed, number of injured, details of killed and injured (name, age, gender, profession) etc);
- Liaise with Pakistani and international media (Urdu and English) as well as human rights organizations to create awareness about the ongoing and systematic target killing of Shia Muslims;
- Coordinate and organize mutual support with other oppressed, target killed or persecuted groups (e.g., Balochs, anti-Taliban Pashtoons, Ahmadis, Christians, Barelvis etc).
Appendix: Summary of attacks on Shia Muslims in Pakistan in January 2012 (Source: LUBP)