Posts Tagged ‘Mastung’

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was published in Daily Times in two parts. The first part was published on June, 26, 2012 and the second part was published on June 27, 2012. For convenience of the readers I’m pleased to cross-post both the parts together on my blog from Daily Times without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

Peace is fast becoming a distant dream amidst the aberrant state of affairs in Pakistan; almost everyday people are killed in the name of religion, ethnicity, enmity and honor. The state institutions have shown little or no interest in putting an end to these killings, especially the ones being committed in the name of religion. Instead of persecuting the militants carrying out these terrorist activities, government is found pandering to the militants behind such killings, hence emboldening the killers and instilling terror and insecurity in all religious minorities. On the other hand, the superior judiciary of the country that, otherwise, sounds keen to nip every evil in the bud, remains apathetic to the carnage that poses an imminent threat of inflicting a civil war in the country. Shia populace, by far, has been the most affected community at the hands of these incessant killings in a bid to establish shari’ah in the region. Despite several protests against the relentless Shia killings and countless appeals, the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan who is otherwise, known for his judicial activism and the knack of taking suo motu notices fervently, has apparently refused to move. This is despite the gravity of the deteriorating situation of law and order pertaining to the minorities’ persecution in general and Shia killings in particular. This shows apathy from the superior judiciary, which has strengthened the exceedingly growing perception among the Shia community that the state institutions, including the superior judiciary, are shielding the militants who have had pyromania against the belief and community of Shias in Pakistan. The negative reactions of those who have been silent upon the genocide of the innocuous community of Shias in Pakistan have vandalised the ethos of national integrity. Terming the ongoing Shia killings as a ‘sensitive’ issue, thus impermissible to be discussed, the mainstream electronic and print media have also turned a blind eye to the frequency and ferocity of these events. In the latest episode of Shia genocide, five more Shia students have been killed and another 70 are injured, as unknown yet ‘well-known’ terrorists detonated a remote-controlled bomb, planted in a jeep parked along a road, when a bus carrying 75 Shia students, from Hazara community, of Balochistan Information Technology University drove past.

Plagued by the aforementioned mayhem of law and order, members of Shia community have been inexorably massacred in Pakistan since the late 1980s by a group of terrorists, now known as Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat. It is the latest incarnation of the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) that was established in 1985 by Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, another explosive product of the Islamic seminaries functioning in Pakistan, on the behest of the then President of Pakistan Ziaul Haq. That was for the sake of spearheading Zia’s strategy ‘to teach Pakistani Shias a lesson’ after they had refused to pay zakat to his regime. Assisted by the perusal assiduity of a similar school of thought in Pakistan’s security infrastructure, the militant organisation manifestly targeted high profile Shias, holding important offices, aside from indiscriminate bloodshed of common peole belonging to the Shia community in Pakistan. From 1987 to 2011, as many as 5,000 Shias are estimated to have been killed in order to establish ‘real’ shari’ah in the land of pure by the hotheaded Islamists. The terrorist outfit Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat, currently led by Ahmad Ludhianvi, epitomises the self-righteous mentality of the hardcore religious fanatics who are on a mission to enforce their version of Islam on others at gunpoint. To top it all, this mindset has been incessantly nurtured by a number of seminaries fanatically working in different parts of the country, bereft of any regulation by the authorities whatsoever. It is an indoctrination of vulnerable minds with hatred and ‘holy’ violence, thus perpetrating a fresh breed of militants, intoxicated by absolute intolerance for those who dare to differ with their ideology. Heaps of decrees released by radical clerics at different times, declaring Shias as ‘infidels’ and thus liable to be killed, have only added fuel to flames. Forlorn, there is either no political will to eliminate militancy or the will is preposterously bemused and fragmented. Plausible deniability of the existence of a number of sanctuaries for terrorists in Southern Punjab has played its own role to facilitate the religious fanaticism penetrating deeper in our society.

A couple of months ago, the media cell of the SSP/LeJ released a video footage of the Balochistan’s Mastung massacre in which 27 Shia pilgrims, hailing from the Hazara tribe, were forced off a bus and subsequently shot dead in cold blood by LeJ’s militants in September 2011. The video, posted on internet, puts on show some incredibly horrific scenes of the callous carnage, inculcating the real terror, in the minds of the audience, emanating from the unperturbed and unhurried comportment of the killers. The helpless pilgrims are hauled off a bus by ruthless terrorists and forced to assemble on the ground. As a jihadi anthem, extolling the militants’ inalienable commitment to the mission of exterminating ‘infidels’, blares in the backdrop of the footage, the militants open indiscriminate fire on the besieged pilgrims with automatic firearms at a point blank range. The video then goes on to show a young boy, most likely a teenager, clasping his hands in despair and pleading for some mercy. One of the terrorists responds to the boy by gunning him down. Another terrorist is then seen walking around the bullet-riddled bodies of the slain pilgrims, unhurriedly but deliberately firing into them, to guarantee that no one gets away alive. After graphically recording all the carnage, the camera points to the ground, showing the shadow of a terrorist pumping his fist in the air in delight.

Just like the massacre itself, the released video of the carnage managed to evade successfully the attention of the law enforcing agencies as well as the free and the hyperactive judiciary. Albeit the Chief Justice of Baluchistan High Court (BHC), Qazi Faez Isa, in an unprecedented move took a suo motu notice of the Mastung massacre, but without disturbing the militants or their ‘mentors’. For that matter, the case seems to have already passed into oblivion, thanks to the ‘memogate’ commission headed by BHC’s Chief Justice Isa snubbing any chance of the Mastung incident to be heard in the court, thus incarnating the legal maxim of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. The memogate commission consumed almost six months in an attempt to resolve the ‘mystery; surrounding a piece of paper that apparently has no locus standi. The nihility of any efficacious action by the state has inevitably encouraged terrorist groups to continue wrecking havoc on the Shia community.

One cannot and should not see any incident involving Shia killings in isolation. It has to be analysed in line with all such attacks resulting in scores of Shias being killed throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan. Be it Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu, Parachinar, Gilgit, southern Punjab, Kohistan or Chilas, Shia killings have turned into a well-thought out genocide of the Shia community in Pakistan. As per the official data released in 2010, more than 12,500 seminaries (almost 65 percent of the total seminaries running in Pakistan) are located in Punjab. A breakdown of those located in Punjab clearly ascertains a preponderant cluster of more than 7,000 seminaries operating in southern Punjab, providing the felicitous recruiting grounds for the terrorist and militant organisations. It took more than four long years for the Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to accept the reality that the volatile southern belt of his province is a ‘breeding ground’ for militants. Nevertheless, whether the chief minister, who is also Punjab’s home minister, is ready to take on the sectarian and jihadist outfits concentrated in and operating from southern Punjab as well as other quarters of the province remains a big question. Whilst sitting on the top of a volcano that is very much alive, we are hoping against hope that it will never erupt, hoodwinking nobody but ourselves. Living in a delusional world at the cost of your life is never a good idea.

Apart from massacring members of the Shia community and other religious minorities, these self- righteous militant groups have been actively involved in publishing and distributing literature spewing venom against any group or individual who dares to challenge their ideology. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Shaheed Salmaan Taseer and the slain federal minister for minorities’ affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti are the prominent public figures to fall prey to the same mindset that is dealing some serious blows to the integrity and solidarity of Pakistan. The road to peace in Pakistan, unquestionably, does not offer a smooth drive. With our tribal areas falling to the militants and our society, at large, having the perilous proclivity of favouring the militancy by using a variety of lame excuses, the dream of seeing peace prevailing in Pakistan sounds like a distant one. In dire straits, Pakistan needs to harmonise its political response originating from a productive stratagem of showing zero tolerance to miscreants and their sanctuaries. The state institutions need to come out of their coma and should formulate an efficacious strategy to go all out in order to combat the fierce menace of terrorism. Our security infrastructure desperately necessitates an unprecedented purge to get rid of the personnel and policies facilitating the militants in any way using any cover. Eliminating seminaries that provide the recruiting grounds for the terrorist and militant organisations is indeed indispensable for any chance of eradicating the cancer of extremism from Pakistan.

Pakistan direly needs a democratic system with the basic principles of having laws for minorities and an attitude of tolerance towards the oppressed. Laws originate from the ‘constitutional’ tenets of a democratic country and tolerance comes from the psychological mindset of its inhabitants. To reinstate democracy to its fullest authority and governance, one has to separate state-related affairs from religious ones. The state should have no business in deciding the credibility of one’s religion as long as one is not imperilling the lives of fellow citizens in the name of one’s beliefs. The amalgamation of political ideologies with religious ideologies has already made a nexus of chaotic perceptions in Pakistan in particular and worldwide in general. Any elected government has to follow denominations of ‘constitutional democracy’, ‘human rights’ and ‘law and order’ at any cost. On the other hand, the army should be in the defence wing of the country and not in the administrative parameters. Regimes like General Zia’s catapulted political and religious matters, making them akin, but in return, made them ever so abysmal, consequently increasing the wedge between radical elements and the moderate population of Pakistan. Home affairs (law and order, minority rights, justice) should come first rather than religious/vote bank appeasement of a few minds who flout peace of the entire nation. Mainstream political parties, specially the Pakistan Muslim League-N and the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf should shun them rather than give them a pedestal. Being a democratic country, Pakistan must stop all kinds of intervention in its internal matters keeping its sovereignty in mind. The religious persecution of Shias and their relentless killings at a rampant rate by declaring them as infidels, has come from Saudi Arabia and the likeminded states in the Gulf. Pakistan will have to realise that religious introspection is more vital than religious intervention. The bottom line is that the current frenzied situation demands something huge to be done on an emergency basis, and that too now. It has already become a matter of now or never.

Source:

Daily Times – VIEW : Shia community agglomerated by a corps de ballet of survival — I — Ali Salman Alvi 

Daily Times – VIEW : Shia community agglomerated by a corps de ballet of survival — II — Ali Salman Alvi


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Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah addresses the Constituent Assembly.

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.

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Mastung: Dead bodies of Shia pilgrims scattered everywhere after the terrorists attacked their bus and killed them from point blank range.

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.

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Ameer Jamat e Islami Munawwar Hasan exchanging warm pleasantries with the Killer in Chief Ahmad Ludhianvi.

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.

Instrumental in Shia Killings. Left to right: Mullah Tahir Ashrafi, Malik Ishaq (head οf Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) and Mullah Ahmad Ludhianvi.

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.