Dr Jaffer Mohsin Rizvi, a doctor by profession and a Shia by faith, became a victim of the ongoing wave of ethnic and sectarian violence in Karachi last month.
He was brutally killed in front of his house (A-614, block 12, FB Area) at 9:30am on January 28, by two unidentified man who were on a motorbike and were wearing Burqas. They asked him about an address when he was reading a newspaper. He received two bullets. Nobody came to his help for the next twenty minutes. He was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital by his son Ali Mohsin who was in the house. He was declared dead in the hospital. A large number of people gathered in the hospital to protest the killing.
Dr Rizvi was associated with the Imambargah Aal-e-Aba, located in FB Area block 13 Karachi, as a trustee for a long time and was also the CEO of Karvan-e-Aal-e-Aba (Pvt) Ltd. He left behind a widow, two sons Ali Mohsin and Hassan Mohsin and three daughters. At the time of the incident, his wife, son Hasan Mohsin, Hasan Mohsin’s wife and Jaffer Mohsin’s younger daughters were in Iran.
According to people who know him, Dr Jaffer Mohsin was an active social worker and he once carried out a Rs150,000 operation on a child in the neighbourhood for free.
He was also an avid cricket supporter and used to host local cricket events along with Dr Mohammad Ali Shah. Some people believe that he was a political activist and associated with the MQM, but according to Shahbaz Zahid, a close family friend and a journalist by profession, “Dr Jaffer was not associated with any political party. Nor did he take part in any political activity. But he had some differences with the Aal-e-Aba administration a few years ago.”
SHO Raja Tariq suspected that he might have been murdered on the sectarian grounds as he was a prominent and practising Shia who was actively involved in religious proceedings.
Dr Jaffer Mohsin’s funeral was held on Monday, January 30 2012 at Ancholi Society, Block 20, FB Area, Karachi after Zohrain prayer and he was laid to rest at Wadi-e-Hussain on Super Highway Karachi.
His son Ali Mohsin said, “My father was only killed because he was Shia.”
The target killings of Shias began in Balochistan with violence against Hazara Shias in Quetta. On October 6 1999, unknown gunmen attacked ex-education minister Sardar Nisar Ali Hazara. He survived but his driver and a guard died. The killings intensified in 2003. On July 4 2003, a suicide attacker blew himself up in Hazara Kalan Imrambargah on McCongi Road, leaving at least 53 people dead and 150 injured.
“The Pakistani government should take all the necessary steps to ensure the security of Shia Muslims in Pakistan and the government should hold accountable those responsible for ordering and carrying out a campaign of targeted killings against the Shia,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said, “The targeted killings of Shia are a barbaric attempt at sectarian and ethnic cleansing and the government failure to break up the extremist groups that carry out these attacks calls into question its commitment to protect its citizens. And as far as protecting the Shia is concerned, Pakistan’s government has been all talk and no action.”
More than 5,000 people have been killed in sectarian acts of terrorism in Kurram Agency since 2001, and a majority of them were Shias. The tribal agency is besieged by militant and extremist organisations. The Thal road has been close since 2007, and every time it has been opened, Shia and Bangush tribesmen are killed or abducted.
In December 2009, around 50 Shias were killed in a bomb blast in Karachi, when they were having their yearly mourning processions. The killers are still at large.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to take immediate, direct and personal initiative to prevent the killing of Shias in Karachi and of the Hazara community in Quetta, and ensure action against all those who have failed to protect the citizens’ lives.
HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf said in a communication with the President Zardari and the Prime Minister Gilani: “These killings must cause your government serious anxiety for a number of reasons. First, these killings and the failure of the administration to stem the odious tide or to apprehend the culprits reveal a state of lawlessness no civilised government can countenance. That this is happening in a city swarming with Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel can only be attributed to the federal authority’s failure to exercise due control. Secondly, the fact that victims are members of a religious sect that is in a minority is causing alarm. Failure to protect the lives and property and basic freedoms of the Hazara people will have serious law and order implications across the country and make Pakistan a pariah in the comity of nations. Finally, whatever their faith and calling the Hazaras are as honourable citizens of Pakistan as anyone else and the protection of their lives and liberty is a duty for which you will be held accountable. On behalf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan I therefore call upon you to personally intervene in the situation, take all necessary steps to protect the lives and all other rights of the Shias in Karachi and Hazara, including issuance of appropriate directives or requests to the Balochistan government and the security agencies concerned. All those who have failed to fulfil their duty to protect the people’s lives in Balochistan have forfeited their right to hold their positions and all of them should be made to pay for their incompetence and insensitively to the killing of innocent citizens and the sufferings of their families.”
Hassan Naqvi is a journalist based in Lahore and tweets @Hassannaqvi5