I have had a quick look at the Jinnah Institute’s report titled ‘Extremism Watch: Mapping conflict trends in Pakistan 2010-2011″.
The following team has prepared this report:
Lead Researcher: Hisham Mohmand
Assistant Researchers: Jahandad Khan, Arafat Mir, Mehmoona Bashar
Consulting Editor: Ejaz Haider
Editorial Team: Madeeha Ansari, Salman Zaidi, Mustehsan Rasool, Arsalaan Nazir, Ibraheem Baqai
Project Manager: Salman Zaidi
Participants of the presentation panel: Marvi Sirmed, Tahira Abdullah, Moeed Pirzada, Fahad Hussain, Salman Zaidi, Ejaz Haider etc (Source: http://www.jinnah-institute.org/programs/strategic-security-program/386-extremism-watch-report-launch)
The report includes the following articles:
Page# 8 Conflict Trends: Presenting the Data – by Salman Zaidi
17 The Rise of Violent Sectarianism – by Raza Rumi
29 Religious Intolerance, Interfaith Violence and Public Discourse – by Sabina Ansari
34 Turning Schools to Stones – by Sehar Tariq
41 Militarisation of Islamic Spaces of Worship – by Fatima Mujtaba
45 Through a Gendered Lens – by Madeeha Ansari and Mishal Khan
According to Farhat Taj:
The key reason why the report is misplaced is that it is mainly based on — as stated in its methodology (pg 6) — reports from English and Urdu media in Pakistan. But most of the Pakistani English and Urdu media is neither independent nor abides by any professional or ethical standards in reporting on matters that are the exclusive domain of Pakistan’s military establishment, such as policies about Afghanistan and India. These policies are closely interwoven with religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, the issues that this JI report seeks to look into. The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground.
I find the report dishonest and misrepresenting about not only Pakistan’s Pashtuns but also Shia Muslims.
The following are only a few of the many concerns:
It fails to identify the Deep State’s direct and indirect role in the ongoing genocides of the Shias and the Pashtuns.
It presents false neutral terms (Sunni-Shia sectarianism, Sectarian Violence etc) to hide the fact that Shias are being killed by fringe Jihadi-sectarian militants who do not represent Sunnis.
It dishonestly misrepresents Taliban’s attacks on anti-Taliban Pashtun population and mosques as attacks on Sunni mosques.
In the Report’s Introduction, the editors present a misrepresenting perspective on Shia genocide by defining it as sectarian extremism: “incendiary speech or writing and physical attacks directed against (or exchanged between) members of different Islamic sects, against their property, symbols, congregations and places of worship.” Within the description, editors hide and obfuscate the fact that Shias Muslims remain most target killed faith group in Pakistan who are not being killed by Sunnis but by Pakistan army-sponsored Jihadi-sectarian militants.
In Tables 1 and 2, editors resort to similar obfuscating tactics to hide the total number of Shias killed by Pakistan army-backed Taliban and SSP-ASWJ militants. In fact they clearly ignore the fact that Shias are being target killed specifically due to their faith as is evident through various fatwas and statements by the Taliban and LeJ-SSP etc, where such decrees or Fatwas by LeJ or Taliban are not there against other Sunni groups (e.g., Barelvis etc).
Under the heading “Sectarian Conflict” the report states that sectarian extremism accounts for 92.6% of all casualties recorded over the monitoring period. The category takes on several forms in the data: violent attacks against Shias; Shia-Sunni clashes; intra-Sunni violence among Barelvi and Ahl-e-Hadith groups; violent attacks against Sunni mosques and congregations.” Once again, the editors have obfuscated the fact that Sunni mosques are not being attacked because of Taliban or SSP-LeJ’s differences with the Sunni sect, the reasons are more to do with the political or anti-Taliban inclinations of the local people offering prayers in the attacked mosques (or visiting shrines).
The most dishonest heading in the JI report is “anti-Sunni attacks” (which has been presented as different from “Intra-Sunni Clashes”). Once again, the aim seems to be to allege Shia Muslims for attacks on Sunni mosques which is not only dishonest but also factually incorrect. It’s the Taliban and their affiliates (SSP-ASWJ) who are themselves a Sunni fringe, who are attacking Sunni mosques.
In his essay titled ‘Rise of Violent Sectarianism’, Raza Rumi misrepresents Shia genocide in Pakistan by Stat-sponsored extremist extremist Deobandi Jihasdi outfits as a sectarian conflict in Pakistan. Instead of focusing on the state-sponsored Jihadi-sectarian monsters’ role in Shia genocide since mid 1980s, Rumi vaguely focuses on the role of nonstate actors in the sectarian violence.
Misrepresentation of Ahmadiyya Muslims’ persecution in Raza Rumi’s article:
In addition to the emphasis on a singular Muslim identity, which excluded the Shias, the 1974 constitutional amendment stoked fresh fires of sectarianism by launching apostasy verdicts against the Ahmadi community of Pakistan. According to this constitutional amendment, “a person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) as the last of the prophets or claims to be Prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad (PBUH), or recognizes such a claimant as a Prophet or a religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the constitution or law” (Ahmed, 2011). The amendment did not explicitly mention the Ahmadi community and has been used by hardliner Sunni clerics to also target the Shia community in Pakistan.
For a detailed criticism of misrepresentation of Shias and Ahmadis in Rumi’s article (which was also republished in The Friday Times, read this blog post: https://pakistanblogzine.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/the-friday-times-misrepresents-the-suffering-of-pakistans-shias-and-ahmadis/)
Misrepresentation of Malik ishaq’s release: The JI report hides the fact that Ishaq’s release was enabled by ISI’s pressure on Pakistani judiciary. Also Ishaq’s role in negotiations with attackers of GHQ has been ignored. Instead the report conveniently blames the prosecution: “He was released by the Supreme Court on bail due to a lack of evidence anyway.”
ISI-backed Haqqani Taliban attacks on Shias of Kurram and Hangu have been presented as Sunni-Shia clashes.
Explicitly anti-Shia violence by LeJ-Taliban against Shias of Balochistan has been misrepresented as ethnic violence.
No attempt was made by the JI, its editors and authors to engage with and consult with Shia rights organizations and activists to have direct, first hand account of their sufferings.
Sherry Rehman’s notorious Jinnah Institute (current members: Ejaz Haider, Raza Rumi etc) is gaining strong and reputable critics!
The Islamabad based, ISI-backed Jinnah Institute which declares itself a think tank and is funded by public money keeps producing anti-Pashtun, anti-Shia and anti-Ahmadi literature.
Farhat Taj has critiqued a misleading and anti-Pashtun essay ‘Turning the Schools to Stones’ in the latest report in her recent article in the Daily Times.
What the writer of this essay is saying about the bombing of schools in the Pashtun areas — FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even in Afghanistan — is this.
Bombing of schools in the Pashtun areas is a function of the Pashtun culture. The schools have been attacked because they do not have cultural legitimacy among the Pashtun communities. This is because the schools are looked upon as spaces that promote secular and un-Islamic education, which is intolerable for the Pashtun mindset. As a justification of the supposed lack of Pashtun cultural legitimacy for schools, the author of this essay says that most of the attacks have been on girls’ schools. The Pashtun have a cultural aversion to girls’ education. The attacks on girls’ education are the manifestation of this aversion. To substantiate the point, the author refers to the Swat Taliban, who had made public statements against girls’ education as well as attacked girls’ schools.
As a remedy to the bombing of schools, the essay suggests social engineering among the Pashtun communities. It asks for advocacy for education in the communities, including the need to protect the physical structure of the schools. In other words, the essay is saying that the communities must prove they value children’s education by protecting the schools from being bombed. The author even has the audacity to recommend that Pashtun “communities must also explore the idea of setting up community schools attached to the homes of respected elders, to decrease the chances of attacks against them”. In short, what the author is saying is that the bombing of schools is bombing by the Pashtun culture. The solution to the bombing is located in causing social changes in the culture. The Pashtun have to help themselves to rein in their anti-education cultural tendencies in order to produce a conducive social environment for their children’s education.
Moreover, there are also some interesting but unexplained comments in this essay. It says that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is an agency of FATA (pg 37). The essay claims that besides militants, the ‘mainstream political parties (of Pakistan) are also guilty of coercion and threats to schools’ (pg 35). The report also gives the impression that there are hardly any private schools in FATA.
Let’s assume that one of the instances (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is an agency of FATA) in the JI essay is a typing mistake. Therefore, let’s ignore it. The other issues discussed in the essay are serious distortions of facts. The author wrongfully implicates the Pashtun culture, as well as mainstream political parties of Pakistan, in the destruction of education, while absolving the state security policy of any role in this regard. From a journalistic and research point of view this essay is arrant nonsense. This essay as well as the whole report is an attempt to mislead people. In my next week’s column, I will dissect the ‘Turning Schools to Stones’ to show its lack of connectedness with the ground reality as well as anti-Pashtun bias.
It is time to come forward and condemn the Jinnah Institute for its misrepresenting and misleading literature.