On August 11, 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave expression to his vision of Pakistan in an address to the Constituent Assembly. He spoke of an inclusive and impartial government, religious freedom, rule of law and equality for all. His address was class oratory expertise & a strong espousal of a secular state in which every citizen would be free to follow his own religion. The State shall make no distinction between the citizens on the grounds of faith. His frequently quoted part of the speech, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State” is hijacked by those who urged common Muslims not to side with Jinnah when he was striving for a sovereign and separate homeland. The people who now aver to be the most patriotic and well wishers of Pakistan ridiculed the title “Quaid e Azam” (The Great Leader) given to Jinnah by his followers and ascribed him as “Kafir e Azam” (The Great disbeliever). Founder of Jamat e Islami, Abul A’ala Maududi penned his thoughts about Jinnah: “It is forbidden to vote for [Jinnah's] Muslim League”. The political differences between Jinnah and the religious parties led by Muslim clerics are well documented but even then incongruously the same cult of religious fanatics claims to be the savior of the country they opposed vigorously when the Pakistan Movement was in full swing. As a nation we set off for an entirely opposite destiny to Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan adopted an extremely confused and impractical resolution known as Objective Resolution on March 12, 1949. After years of Military rule in Pakistan, It was the most atrocious military ruler Zia ul Haq who left no stone unturned in nurturing extremism, sectarianism and barbarianism among the illiterate masses in the name of Islam. He misused Islam not only to prolong his reign but also to spread hatred against the minorities living in Pakistan and consequently drove the final nail in the coffin of an already depleted Pakistan.
Shia population of Pakistan suffered the most from the ruthless atrocities endorsed by Zia ul Haq and Co in the society. Sipah e Sahab Pakistan/Lashkar e Jhangvi formerly known as Anjuman Sipah e Sahaba (ASS) was established in 1985 in Jhang by Haq Nawaz Jhangvi and primarily its stated goal was to deter major Shia influence in Pakistan. Since 1980’s, thousands of Shias have been killed in sectarian-related incidents in Pakistan. The self righteous hardcore Deobandi/Wahabi/Salafi groups are flagrantly involved in the Genocide of this helpless community all over the world and specially in Pakistan following the numerous religious verdicts (Fatawa) declaring all the Shias apostates and liable to be killed. Almost a week ago 18 Shias were killed in a bus attack on Karakoram Highway near Kohistan; the genocide of Shia community continues in Pakistan in absolute absence of any security measure to stop the perennial Shia killings. The attackers asked passengers to step out of the bus and shot them dead from point blank range after identifying them as Shias. Their lives were cut short just because like many other Pakistani Shias they denied to stoop down to the ever so escalating life threats by the relentless sectarian terrorism that is invisibly yet so obviously being supported by the deep state elements and sponsored by the regimes of Saudi Arabia and UAE. A very similar incident in September 2011 claimed the lives of 29 Shia pilgrims in Ganjidori area of Mastung when they were on their way to Iran to pay a visit to the holy shrines.
As has been the history the news channels flashed the breaking news that would shortly followed by the routine transmission. The more the number of casualties swells in such a terrorist attack, the more air-time it gets on media & then the incident passes into oblivion. A couplet written by the legendry poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz aptly illustrates the fate of such murders and the dilemma surrounding them. Faiz wrote:
Na mudda’ee, na shahadat, hisaab paak hua
Ye khoon-e-khaak nasheena’n tha, rizq-e-khak hua
(No witness, no complainant – so the case was closed; it was the blood of lowly folks, down the drain it flowed)
Each and every terrorist act brings the very conversant feeling of déjà-vu. TV channels would run tickers showcasing the statements from different individuals/groups condemning the unendurable act of terrorism and concerns over the agonizing trend of inexorable march of extremism penetrating in the society. The government officials would burst on television screens with false promises of getting the terrorists and to unveil those behind such acts of brutality. An inquiry would be promptly ordered to probe the incident and this is where the case gets closed effectively. After a series of futile investigations things start getting back on the track and everything seems so normal as if all is well rather super well and this status quo continues until another tragedy is added in the ever so growing list of such terrorist acts. It’s all together a different story that if the killers are caught somehow, the court proceedings prove nothing more than a walk in the park for those culprits who are purposely razing the tolerance and sanity from our society at a terrifying pace. Impotent prosecution fittingly supported by the Judiciary results in the acquittal of these cannibals who are set free to carry on with their mission of destabilizing Pakistan. This is the story of perennial Shia genocide in Pakistan that has been eroding our society since late 80’s. Thousands of Shias have been, abducted, slaughtered and decapitated in different incidents across the country specially in Parachinar and Quetta but the people of Pakistan in general and the State of Pakistan in particular are least bothered about the ongoing massacre. For more than 4 years Taliban incessantly kidnapped the commoners from Shia community & after torturing them ruthlessly & mutilating their body parts they decapitated the abductees. In some cases the mutilated bodies were thrown into the open fields or the dead body was sent in parts to the home towns. Taliban kept on spreading terror among the Shia community as they released pictures/videos of their gross inhumane act.
Meanwhile so called banned militant outfits backed by the most vicious and fascist parties like Jamat e Islami continue to hold rallies, conferences and public gatherings in different cities of Punjab where the extremism is exponentially penetrating among the masses right under the nose of the Government authorities.The banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are now operating freely under a new name Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamaat. It is led by Ahmed Ludhianvi who had spread hatred against Shia’s in Dunya TV’s talk show hosted by Asma Chaudhry soon after a bomb blast killed more than 20 Shias in Khanpur in an Arba’een procession, too is full of extolments for Pakistan Army in their stance on the good Haqqanis, and offered 200 thousand volunteers in case the army decides to wage a war against United States. For this reason its leadership is relishing political support. Their flags, graffiti and slogans can be seen on the walls varying in their contents from place to place. Ironically the new adopted name is not included in the list of banned outfits with restrictions on their fund raising and other activities. This is a prime example of the futility of the ban that was imposed by the Government on this terrorist outfit. Is that a bungle, negligence or exclusion? Those keeping an eye on their recent activities after the latest incarnation can understand the reasons behind this expurgation.
Apart from the criminal negligence of the law enforcing agencies and the repulsive involvement of deep state elements in the continuing genocide of Shia community, Pakistani Shias are suffering from the nihility of an efficacious leadership that can lead them in the right direction and fight for their cause. Majority of the religious leadership of Pakistani Shias anticipate Iran as an emblem of hope and assistance and that is where the problem gets even worse. The Shia leadership in Pakistan is found more eager to pursue Iranian interests than the issues bothering Shias in Pakistan. That said, nobody is questioning the personalities of late Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, his successor Ali Khamenei and their services for Iranians but the thing that bothers common Pakistani Shia is that they are not supposed to lead the Shias living in Pakistan because the issues faced by Shias living on the either side of the border are like chalk and cheese. Adding insult to injury, many religious figures among Shias in Pakistan have directly/indirectly portrayed the matter of following Iranian leadership as an integral part of Shi’ite set of believes. Now that worsens the situation even more and anybody who stresses on having an independent leadership that is not supposed to be influenced by any foreign agenda is believed to be an unpardonable sinner/traitor. Iran would encourage the Shias of Pakistan to stage massive rallies on the Qudas day to show solidarity with Iranian stand on an issue that is least pertinent to the Shias living in Pakistan. In September 2010, At least 60 Shias were killed and about 160 others got severely injured when a suicide bomber ripped through a procession marking the Al-Quds day. Shia community is inexorably unable to comprehend what on earth Pakistanis Shias have to do with Al-Qudas when they themselves have been brutally massacred since late 80’s. One got to be living in a fool’s paradise if one believes that such rallies will ultimately push Israel to evacuate the East Jerusalem. It is pertinent to note that Quds Day rallies were first introduced in Iran by the Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, and the day’s parades are sponsored and organized annually by the Iranian government. In recent years, only a marginal proportion of young Iranians have attended these rallies in Iran whereas on the contrary Shias living in Pakistan are blindly following the agenda of Iranian regime on the cost of their lives.
Anyone who claimed to be the leader of this beleaguered community in Pakistan has been found wanting. Sajid Ali Naqvi is an apt example of the impotence of Shia leadership in Pakistan. He claims to be the head of the largest Shia organization of Pakistan namely Tehreek-e-Jafaria Pakistan. He is also called Numainda-e-Wali-e-Faqih as he politically represents the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei in Pakistan; A title that is enough to reveal the strange but bitter ground realties. Apart from being an incapable leader, almost a decade ago, Sajid Ali Naqvi joined hands with Jamat e Islami, Jamiet Ulema e Islam and Jamiat Ahle Hadith, well known for their anti-Shia ideologies, under the umbrella of MMA (Mutahidda Majlis e Amal), sarcastically but very pragmatically known as Mullah Military Alliance. Consequently it severely hurt the cause of a commoner Shia. Public representatives hailing from Shia community who have made it to the Parliament are doing their bit to raise this fiery issue on different platforms but in an embattled country like Pakistan their efforts are not too strong to combat the might of the extremists.
On the other hand general political situation in Pakistan is terribly influenced by Saudi Arabia and UAE as they have been playing the role of a puppeteer in the power politics of Pakistan. The mainstream political parties do not dare to talk on the issue because their leaders do not want to lose their vote bank in the regions where the religious fanaticism (animosity against Shias) plays a pivotal role in the general elections. One of the WikiLeaks cable has also revealed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million US dollars annually was making its way to certain religious organizations in southern Punjab. WikiLeaks claims the money was being transferred from organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — with the direct support of those governments to fund extremism and terrorism in southern Punjab. The ferocity with which these terrorist attacks are being carried out is reasonably bothersome for the survival of Shias in Pakistan. The terrorists are tightening their insane stranglehold on Shias with the help of deep state elements in a country which was ironically founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah who himself belonged to the Shia community. The other minorities like Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus are also struggling to survive against the might of terrorists. Albeit Barelvi Sunnis comprises the majority (almost 50%) of Pakistan’s population but they too are at the helm of this Deo-Bandi/Salafi mindset that is dictating terms in Pakistan.
If Shias want to survive in Pakistan, sooner or later they will have to decide whether they want to retaliate and live gracefully or they want to keep getting killed by the unknown gunmen. Shia community in Pakistan is in dire need of a centrally organized unit that can guard them efficaciously from the fever of sectarian hatred that is gripping more and more Pakistanis every day. They say “Attack is the best form of defense” and the time has arrived to take the attack to the extremists and silence their guns. For this purpose Shia leadership, that is still to emerge, should seek cooperation from the leadership of Barelvi Sunnis as both these sections of Muslims in Pakistan are being targeted by the Deo-Bandi terrorists. In short Shias, Barelvis and other minorities got to retaliate stalwartly for their survival or else they will be eliminated from this land of pure. The current state of affairs is pushing, Pakistan in general and the Pakistani Shias in particular to a horrendous dead end and that day may not prove to be far away when Shia killings would be officially permitted in Pakistan if this trend is allowed to continue.