Identity, Equality, Unity
With eight more Shia Hazara community members killed in Quetta on Saturday 14 April 2012, the litany of the sorrows of Pakistan’s Shia Muslims seems unrelenting. In one incident, assailants (belied to be members of banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan SSP, currently operating as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ) ambushed a taxi on Brewery Road Quetta, killing the six occupants, in an eerie repeat of an earlier such ambush on a vehicle carrying Hazara community members. Minutes after the first incident, the assassins killed another two members of the Shia Hazara community in a rickshaw in the same area. Virtual riots broke out in the city in reaction, with arson and violence on display against the police and authorities. The sky was punctuated by aerial firing, which wounded a student. The authorities responded by deploying the police as usual and calling in 10 more Frontier Corps (FC) platoons to beef up the security presence. That may have helped defuse the immediate violent reaction, but whether this post-facto response is the answer to what is by now clearly a pattern of attacks on the Shia Hazara community is shrouded in doubt.
Quetta in particular has become the theatre of this sectarian (Shia) genocide. It must be stopped before the peaceful Shia including Shia Hazara community loses patience and decides to protect and defend itself against the sectarian terrorists by force of arms, given that the Balochistan government and the FC have signally failed to do their duty. The ‘absent’ Chief Minister Aslam Raisani made the ritual announcement of doing all within the government’s power to bring the sectarian mayhem to an end. Balochistan Home Secretary Nasibullah Bazai offered a mealy-mouthed response, saying the government could not provide complete security to citizens. Let alone “complete” security, what security has the provincial government provided to any citizen? He goes on to assert that a comprehensive security plan has been devised that would be implemented after approval by the higher authorities. Nobody takes these ‘declarations’ seriously any more. Amidst the announcement of days of mourning, the Shia community in Quetta has called for the inept Balochistan government’s resignation. Governor Balochistan Zulfikar Magsi, a frequent critic of the provincial government’s (lack of) performance, warned the other day that if the provincial authorities could not handle the situation, the army may have to be called out. What would remain of the tattered credibility of the provincial government if this were to come to pass?
The Shia community is under attack in the country from Khurram Agency to Gilgit-Baltistan to Balochistan. The sectarian terrorists (extremist Deobandi Jihadis of ASWJ) aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda are seeking to sow the seeds of sectarian strife to such an extent throughout the country, from north to south, that a sectarian civil war breaks out to destabilise the country as a whole. While the Shia tribes in Khurram Agency are under the pressure of the Taliban and their mentors the intelligence agencies to allow safe passage to the Taliban for attacks in Afghanistan on pain of death, the Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan are being massacred without let or hindrance. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s proposal of a judicial commission on the sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan is a non sequitur. It does not take a judicial commission to know the facts on the ground when Shias are picked off en masse every other day. Protests of solidarity with the Hazara community in Balochistan and Shias throughout the country were held on Saturday in Islamabad and even Washington. The purpose of the sectarian terrorists should leave no one in any doubt. Pakistan is to be reduced to rubble through a sectarian civil war that could destroy democracy and the country itself. They must not be allowed to succeed in their nefarious designs by pussyfooting authorities or inept law enforcement. It is in the interests of the system and all governments, federal and provincial, to rise to the challenge and conduct an effective campaign of suppression against these mad fanatics.
Source: Adapted from Daily Times
On an appeal of the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, a mourning day (Yaum-i-Aza) was observed on Friday across the country against ‘the genocide of Shia people’ in Karachi, Quetta and Gilgit Baltistan.
Speakers at programmes held at more than 70 places in Karachi criticised the government for playing the role of a silent spectator as the genocide of Shia continued.
Allama Mirza Yousuf Hussain, Maulana Sadiq Raza Taqvi, Ali Anwar Jafri and many other religious scholars expressed concern over the silence of human rights organisations and demanded they raise voice against the genocide.
They said that the government should sack the interior minister and incompetent and delinquent high officials over their failure to control the situation.
This is not a word to be used loosely. Genocide specifically means “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. It includes killing people on account of belonging to a group; causing them serious bodily or mental harm; deliberately inflicting conditions to destroy the group in whole or in part; preventing births and transferring children by force. The situation in Pakistan today satisfies many of these criteria, and to varying degrees.
A genocide takes place in stages. These can be rapid or drawn out in time. Gregory Stanton, an American human rights scholar and president of Genocide Watch, has identified eight stages, starting from classification of people into “us and them” and ending in extermination followed by denial. Pakistan is already through many of the early stages. Instead of waiting until it is too late for too many, the proper thing to do now is to squarely place Pakistan in a genocide watchlist and bring the intense focus of international public opinion to bear. It is understandable that the governments of the United States and India are unwilling to take up the violence against minorities for reasons of realpolitik. It is understandable that China and Saudi Arabia don’t care. It is therefore understandable that the UN Security Council doesn’t care. What is not understandable is that international media and human rights groups appear oblivious to this ongoing tragedy.
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) and the International Coalition for The Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) — two prominent international NGOs that champion the Responsibility to Protect populations against mass atrocities as an international norm — do not even list Pakistan in the crises they are tracking. Organisations like Human Rights Watch are bravely reporting events on the ground, but their wide mandate precludes them from focusing on this one issue.
The UN Human Rights Council is more interested in outlawing giving offence to religion than killing in its name. The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), always ready to talk about the world’s oppressed Muslims, can be trusted to maintain a resolute silence in this case.
Closer home, the Indian media stands indicted too. So completely are our television channels beholden to the narrative of the peace process that they are, literally, overlooking mass murder.
The white stripe on Pakistan’s flag is being eaten up. The geopolitical implications come later. At this time it is already a human tragedy that is unconscionable for Indians to ignore. In Bob Dylan’s sublime words, “Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows/That too many people have died?” (Source: Nitin Pai)