Express Tribune‘s editorial on 28-08-2011.
Analysis by Khaled Ahmed in The Friday Times (September 02-08, 2011)
Express Tribune‘s editorial on 28-08-2011.
Analysis by Khaled Ahmed in The Friday Times (September 02-08, 2011)
Is winning all that counts? Are you absolutely sure about that?
Very little has been said about this. On December 2, Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai – bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner – the certain winner of the race – mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.
Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first.
Ivan Fernandez Anaya, a Basque runner of 24 years who is considered an athlete with a big future (champion of Spain of 5,000 meters in promise category two years ago) said after the test:
“But even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn’t have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”
He said at the beginning: unfortunately, very little has been said of the gesture. And it’s a shame. In my opinion, it would be nice to explain to children, so they do not think that sport is only what they see on TV: violent kicks in abundance, posh statements, fingers in the eyes of the enemy…
Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was originally published in Daily Times on January 14, 2013. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from Daily Times without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)
A progressive developing nation would cater to the rights of all its citizens, including the minorities. The UN charter for Citizens Rights also mentions the rights of minorities but the rights of the Shia community in Pakistan are presently at the mercy of the game being played by radicals, which is endorsed by political groups as that of ‘pious ones and infidels’. With this mindset, the radical groups are busy eliminating the Shia from Pakistan with vigour. The passing of the buck is the easiest action for those sitting in government to those holding the microphones on primetime programmes. The irony is that no one listens because we do not want to listen to the cries and appeals of the Shias. How can a common man with no power survive when the Quetta police itself is being issued stern warnings by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to keep its hands off its jihadists or else it will suffer dire consequences?
Amidst all this chaos, where does a common Shia visualise his future? Does he live under the psychosis of fear of following his faith or the schizophrenia of society that is considerate of the entire Muslim community but alienates itself from Shia killings, which go on unabashed? Where should a Shia go because the media remains silent and chooses to look at other trivial issues as ‘breaking news’? The Shias silently protesting for their safety have not been paid attention to by either government or media, as the burning issue of Shia killings remains orphaned at the hands of bigotry and the political tussle of extracting maximum voters by aligning with hardliners. For how long should the Shia community lament the bloodshed of its own, because once again the apathy of the government goes to the drone attack victims but not a word on the citizens being killed by the Takfiri ideology? Where does the blood of Shia martyrs go? Because of bigotry and deep-seated hatred for Shias, does their sacrifice become any less important? Now it seems that the killing of the members of the Shia community has definitely failed to arouse the forever-asleep government officials. What more is required for them to wake up?
The statistics found in a report released by the home department states that 758 members of the Shia community were killed in 478 incidents from 2008-2012 in the province of Balochistan. Of these 758 victims, 338 belonged to the Hazara community while the other 420 belong to other ethnicities. The figures clearly indicate that all these victims were killed for the same reason and that is the school of thought they chose to follow. A bloody 2012 ended on a sombre note for Pakistan’s besieged Shia community. The penultimate day of 2012 saw 20 Shia pilgrims butchered in a massive car bomb attack that targeted a convoy of buses carrying 180 Shia pilgrims to Iran. The year 2013 started in the worst possible way. Alamdar Road, the Shia-Hazara dominated area of Quetta, was targeted last week on Thursday. More than 85 people were butchered, in back to back blasts, and well over 150 were wounded, as members of the Shia community continue to be massacred in cold blood. After the barbaric attacks, the Lashkar-e- Jhangvi, as usual, claimed the responsibility for the attacks.
Quetta has seen a severe downward graph of Shia-Hazaras who have stopped attending schools/colleges/universities. Government employees either have taken leave or are being thrown out of service, a gross murder of the legitimate rights of this Shia minority but it does not move the power bigwigs. Shias from the Hazara community are a soft target since they are easily distinguishable from the other ethnic groups because of their features. In the last few years, scores of Shias from the Hazara community have moved to Australia and Canada. Some of the immigrants take grave risks, as dozens of them died of suffocation in containers. Some of them died while crossing borders while others lost the battle of their survival in shipwrecks. So desperate are people because of this barbarity and injustice that they think of only an exodus as a means of survival. They are willing to take every risk to get out of the land where they are being butchered relentlessly. When will the silence end? Will the others in majority wait until the Shia Hazaras are declared an extinct community from Pakistan? The Taliban have wiped off the Hazara community from the Bamiyan region and its affiliated missionaries have begun to face persecution at the hands of those who are distorting the demographical proportion of Pakistan.
The theory of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban is nothing but a utopia, a fable story, for the think tanks to dwell upon and the world to believe that the ‘poor tribal’ people’s agitation has nothing to do with the people of Pakistan, whereas the same groups hit only those whom their version of Islam declares infidels without any challenge from any corner whatsoever and the result is the mass persecution of the Shias in the name of ‘Islam’. This month, a minister told an interviewer that associations of decades could not be washed away in a matter of months and we have to see the ground reality. The reality for the deep state, they say, is that the Taliban are a strategic asset.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is gaining new ground or is on its last legs, depends on who you are talking to. Interior Minister Rehman Malik insists that the TTP is on the verge of collapse given that its channel of funding is effectively being choked by the government. While the TTP remains apolitical, its off-shoots and allied parties are moving into mainstream politics but the other radical parties are increasing, resulting in a mass exodus of the Shias first from Quetta and now in Karachi, where every other day a Shia is killed. The media goes silent on the Shia killings but the audacity of the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi is that they have issued threats to the media houses to print their threatening statements. It is alarming, as its consequential and psychological effects are too abysmal with the passage of time. The population of the millions of Shias is searching their identity in a tide of radicalism. The psychosis of fear haunts, marking even women and children, like Mehzar and the four-year-old Suhana who was brutally killed, for no reason. But for some the reason is clear enough for them that being a Shia is equal to being an ‘infidel’. The Shias have had the biggest setback of having faced discrimination silently since the black era of Ziaul Haq, lingering to date, which is answered by peaceful protests from the Shia community.
Today it is the Shia community, tomorrow it will be some other, but the bottom line is concrete enough for the concerned authorities to act. It is ‘a Pakistani is killed’ but it should not be played down because that Pakistani is a Shia because as mentioned earlier a country’s first duty is to protect its citizens irrespective of their faith, religion, gender or language. Circa 2013, the country has seen bloodshed because of the political incapability of federal and provincial governments. The theory of vote bank politics stands tall in front of the mass Shia killings; therefore, the political parties remain silent whereas lip service of standardised comments follows for media bytes. Today, the Shias of Pakistan stand amidst blood splashed on the soil of the very country where their contribution stands tall.
After Imam Hussain (as) and all his devoted companions were brutally killed at the Battle of Karbala by the order of, Yazid, Muawiyah’s son and successor. Syeda Zainab (sa) was taken captive by Yazid’s army. Syeda Zainab and the other survivors of Imam Hussain’s expedition, most of them women and children, were marched to Kufa and then from Kufa to Damascus, Yazid’s capital, where they were held hostage.
The caravan of the prisoners of Karbala entered Yazid’s palace and they were made to stand in front of Yazid.
Yazid recited a few couplets which enshrine a diabolical confession, a confession that explains the history of the division in Islam and the motives not only his but of his father and grand father in accepting Islam! He said:
“If my venerable ancestors who fell at Badr fighting Muhammad had witnessed how the supporters of Muhammad’s faith were thrown into confusion with thrusts given with my spears, they would be blessing me today. The Banu Hashim played a trick to win power. There was never any “Wahi” to them nor did they receive any revelation. Today the souls of my ancestors and their friends killed by Muhammad at Badr will rest in peace!”
Yazid looked at the prisoners lined up in front of him and said: “It has pleased Allah to grant us victory! Look how He has caused the death of Hussain and humiliated his family!” He then recited a verse of the Holy Quran which means ‘Allah grants honour to whom He pleases and brings disgrace upon whom He pleases.’
Syeda Zainab (sa) could stand it no more! In a loud and clear voice she said:
Sermon of Syeda Zainab (sa) in the Court of Yazid:
“O Yazid! Allah and His Prophet have said that committing sins and considering the signs of Allah to be false is ridiculing them”, i.e. deny the sign of Allah today and hold them in derision and have become happy, and recite poetic verses on account of the martyrdom of the children of the Holy Prophet just as the polytheists of Makkah became happy and sang songs because of the martyrdom of some Muslims in the Battle of Uhad, and talk about taking revenge upon the Holy Prophet. This is how you become like them and how you have reached this stage? You have reached this stage because you have committed too many sins. Whoever treads the path of sin and persists in committing sins will, according to the verdict of the Quran, deny the signs of Allah one day and eventually will ridicule them and then deserve Divine punishment.
She added: “O Yazid! Do you think that we have become humble and despicable owing to the martyrdom of our people and our own captivity? As you have blocked all the paths for us, and we have been made captives and are being taken from one place to another, do you think that Allah has taken away his blessings from us? Do you think that by killing the godly persons you have become great and respectable and the Almighty looks at you with special grace and kindness? For this reason and on account of this wrong thinking you have become elated and arrogant. You have become boastful because you have seen that the matters have taken a turn in your favour. You have, however, forgotten what Allah says: The disbelievers must not think that Our respite is for their good We only give them time to let them increase their sins. For them there will be a humiliating torment.” (Surah Ale Imran, 3: 178)
Then Syeda Zainab (sa) reminded Yazid that on the day of the conquest of Makkah which took place in 8 A.H. the Holy Prophet did favor to all the men and women of Makkah and set them free. Yazid himself was a descendant of those very freed persons. His father Mu’awiyah, his grandfather Abu Sufyan and Mu’awiyah’s mother were among those who were set free at the time of the conquest of Makkah. on that day the Holy Prophet very magnanimously set all of them free irrespective of what they had done in the past and said: “Go, for all of you are free”.
In the second part of her speech the daughter of Imam Ali made the conquest of Makkah her topic and said: “O son of the freed ones! Is it justice that you keep your women and slave-girls in seclusion but have made the helpless daughters of the Holy Prophet ride on swift camels and given them in the hands of their enemies so that they may take them from one city to another”.
Then she said: “Why shouldn’t Yazid be spiteful against us, it is he, who looks at us with hostility. You say with perfect intrepidity and without imagining that you are committing a sin: ‘I wish that my ancestors who were killed in Badr had been present here today’. Then you strike Imam Hussain in his teeth with a stick in your hand! Why shouldn’t you be like this, although you have done what you wanted to do and have pulled out the roots of piety and virtue! You have shed the blood of the sons of the Holy Prophet and have hidden the brilliant stars on the earth from amongst the descendants of Abdul Muttalib under the clouds of oppression and injustice. However, you shall go before Allah soon. You shall meet your ancestors and shall also be taken to their place. At that time you will wish that you had been blind and dumb and had not said that it was a day of rejoicing for your ancestors”.
At this stage the daughter of Imam Ali prayed to Allah and said: “O Lord! Procure our right and take revenge upon those who have oppressed us”. Then she turned to Yazid and said: “By Allah you have pulled off your skin and cut off your flesh. You will soon go before the Prophet of Allah and will see with your own eyes that his children are in Paradise. It will be the day when Allah will deliver the descendants of the Holy Prophet from the state of being scattered and will bring all of them together in Paradise. This is the promise which Allah has made in the Holy Qur’an. He says: Do not think of those who are slain for the cause of Allah as dead. They are alive with their Lord and receive sustenance from Him. (Surah Ale Imran, 3: 169)
O Yazid! On the day when Allah will be the Judge and Muhammad will be the petitioner, and your limbs will give evidence against you, your father, who made you the ruler of the Muslims, will receive His punishment. On that day it will become known what reward the oppressors earn, whose position is worse and whose party is more humble. O enemy of Allah and O son of the enemy of Allah! I swear by Allah that I consider you to be humble and not fit even to be reprimanded and reproached. But what am I to do? Our eyes are shedding tears, our hearts are burning, and our martyrs cannot come to life by our reprimanding and reproaching you. My Hussain has been killed and the partisans of Satan are taking us to the fools so that they may get their reward for insulting Allah. Our blood is dripping from their hands and our flesh is falling down from their mouths. The sacred bodies of the martyrs have been placed at the disposal of the wolves and other carnivorous animals of the jungle. If you have gained something today by shedding blood, you will certainly be a loser on the Day of Judgment. On that day nothing but your deeds will count. On that day you will curse Ibn Marjāna and he will curse you. On that day you and your followers will quarrel with one another by the side of the Divine scale of Justice. On that day you will see that the best provision which your father made for you was that he enabled you to kill the children of the Prophet of Allah. I swear by Allah that I do not fear anyone except Him and do not complain to anyone else. You may employ your deceit and cunning efforts, but I swear by Allah that the shame and disgrace which you have earned by the treatment meted out to us cannot be eradicated”. The daughter of Fatima Zahra ended her speech with offering thanks to Allah. She said: “I thank Allah Who has concluded the task of the chiefs of the youths of Paradise with prosperity and forgiveness and accommodated them in Paradise. I pray to Allah that He may elevate their ranks and favor them more with His kindness, Allah is Omnipotent”.
[From “Balaghatun Nisa”, by Abul Fazl Ahmad bin Abi Tahir]