Identity, Equality, Unity
By Ikhtiar Hussain
The contemporary wave of Shia pogroms in Pakistan started with the electoral victory of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in March 2008. The PPP apologists are too quick to point out the hand of intelligence agencies, especially the ISI, behind these pogroms. This is true and no sane mind will discount the evil the ISI has been wreaking not just on the Shias, but also the Ahmadis, the Christians, and millions of the Sunnis (Barelvis and moderate Deobandis and Salafis) who wish to lead a normal, peaceful life. But at the same time, no one can discount the fact that the PPP government has done nothing to tackle the Shia pogroms. That the Army is all powerful in Pakistan is no excuse for inaction. If a stand is taken on a right issue, no one can shake the will of a popularly elected government. But when the elected representatives start defending anti-democratic forces, we cannot blame the likes of the ISI, Imran Khan, and Muslim League-N.
Just one example, to begin with. When the PPP took over in 2008, the entire nation was with it in connection with finding and punishing the people behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The great UNO report clearly identified the ISI as the dark, evil force operating at all levels in the entire assassination process. But what did the PPP government do? It criticized the report! It wanted the UNO to change it! Can you believe that? It was a golden, once-in-a-century opportunity to punish the criminal generals of Pakistan, but the PPP government stood in front of them to protect them like a mother deer protecting its foals from a pack of hyenas (the hyenas were the people of Pakistan!). Had any action been taken on the basis of the findings of the report, Pakistan would have been a different country today. Had the criminal generals been prosecuted, the Army would have been under the civilian rule today. But it was the PPP government under Zardari which defended the ISI.
Zardari has been doing the same with regards to the Shia pogroms. After becoming president, his statement, conveyed to the media by the semi-paralyzed and monotonous Farhatullah Babar, after every Shia pogrom—in Parachinar, Balochistan, Gilgit, Chilas, and South Punjabi—was only and only this one-liner: “Muslims cannot do it!”
Shameless! Had Yazid been alive today, even he would not have defended the Saudi-sponsored Deobandi Islamofascists the way Zardari, himself a so-called Shia, has done.
Zardari kept vomiting Muslims-cannot-do-it mantra for a couple of years. After that he did not bother even to say that. He merely kept quiet. His decision to keep mum over the Shia pogroms was emulated by his prime minister, ministers, advisors, and media managers. Soon his man in Balochistan, Raisani the Chief Minister, decided to show the nation the funny side of the Shia pogroms: “Why do the Shias cry when only 40 to 50 of them are dragged out of vehicles and shot once in a while? If they say it is so sad a thing to happen in the population of 180 million, I will send them a truckful of tissues so they can effectively wipe their tears of!”
Yes, dear readers, this is what Zardari’s man in Balochistan offered by way of consolation to the Shia widows and orphans! Raisani is also the president of the PPP in the province. What did Zardari do? Did he sack Raisani? Did he scold him? Did he or anyone in his PPP condemn the man? No. It has been silent all along.
Zardari’s latest gift to the Shias of Pakistan is that under his guardianship, the PTCL has banned the only effective Shia web site (http://ShiaKilling.com) which had been chronicling the state-sponsored Shia pogroms. At the same time, the PTCL headed by a Zardari crony has allowed anti-Shia, Islamofascist web sites of banned outfits (by the way, Zardari did not ban them) to be fully operative in Pakistan. Read the article of great American Rusty Walker (http://criticalppp.com/archives/132162), one of the few who speak truth about the Shia situation in Pakistan.
As I have alluded above, Zardari has outdone Yazid in insulting the dignity of the Shias. I proposed that all the Shias and peace-loving non-Shias rename Zardari: Asif anti-Ali [because his style of governance is a direct insult to Hazrat Ali’s style] Yazidi-Zardari.
(Ikhtiar Hussain is a human rights activist who lives in Bronx in New York. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)