Death by a thousand cuts

Farahnaz Ispahani, The Hindu, March 11,2013


After each act of violence against religious minorities, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or Sipah-e-Sahaba proudly own up to it without fear of punishment

The recent mob attack on Christians in Lahore, resulting in the burning down of over one hundred Christian homes while the police stood by, is a reminder of how unsafe Pakistan has become for religious minorities. The attacks on Christians follows a rising tide of attacks on Pakistan’s Shia Muslims, sometimes mischaracterised in the media as the product of sectarian conflict. In reality, these increasingly ferocious attacks reflect the ambitious project of Islamists to purify Pakistan, making it a bastion of a narrow version of Islam Sunni. Pakistan literally translates as “the land of the pure”. But, what started in an imperceptible way as early as the 1940s, picking up momentum in the 1990s, is a drive to transform Pakistan into a land of religious purification.

Muslim groups such as the Shias that account for possibly 20-25% of Pakistan’s Muslim population and Non-Muslim minorities such as Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have been target-killed, forcibly converted, kidnapped and had their religious places bombed and vandalised with alarming regularity. At the time of partition in 1947, Pakistan had a healthy 23% of its population comprise non-Muslim citizens. Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has declined to approximately three per cent. The distinctions among Muslim denominations have also become far more accentuated over the years.
Changing times

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and his two closest political and personal lieutenants, the Raja of Mahmoodabad and my grandfather Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani, were all Shia Muslims. All three devoted their political lives and personal finances to the creation of Pakistan. Mr. Jinnah named Sir Zafrulla Khan, member of the embattled Ahmadiyya sect, as Pakistan’s first foreign minister. As originally conceived, Pakistan did not discriminate among various Muslim denominations, and non-Muslim minorities too were assured of equal rights as citizens. But things have changed over the last several decades. Last week, the massacre of the Shia community of Abbas Town in Karachi took place on and around a road named after my Shia grandfather.
Driven out or degraded

Over the years, Pakistan’s constitution has been amended to designate the Ahmadiyya as non-Muslims. A similar drive, influenced by Salafi ideology from Saudi Arabia, has been undertaken by Deobandi groups against the Shias. A terrorist offshoot of the Deobandi movement (‘Takfiris’ — those who declare some Muslims as ‘kafirs’ or unbelievers) has been escalating atrocities against Shias in an effort to drive them out of the country or to force them to accept a lowered status in an Islamised Pakistan. Their targets have included men, women and children.

Pakistan’s Shias belong to different ethnic and linguistic groups and different tribes. They are spread all over the country. The one thing that unifies them in the eyes of their murderers is their religious beliefs. The anti-Shia terrorists roam the land with impunity, appear on primetime talk shows on television and hold political rallies where they declare Shias as unbelievers and Wajib-ul-Qatal (deserving of death). They are very rarely arrested, even after they proudly and publicly announce their deeds — like in the two recent massacres of the Hazara Shias of Quetta. When they are arrested, they have access to mobile phones in prison, receive visitors openly and are often released swiftly on their own recognisance. The few who have been tried have always been acquitted by Pakistan’s judiciary for “lack of evidence”.
State turning a blind eye

What is often painted — deliberately — as a Shia-Sunni conflict is, in fact, quite another creature. The anti-Shia groups are used by Pakistan’s permanent establishment in Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries in pursuit of “strategic depth”. When, inspired by their bigotry, the Jihadis attack Shias within Pakistan, their state sponsors tend to avert their eyes.

A year ago, a bus was stopped on its way to Gilgit-Baltistan. Shias on board were identified by their names and other means, taken off the bus and beheaded and shot dead. Several months later, the same type of massacre was repeated in the same region. The Taliban took credit for both acts of terrorism. Shias in Parachinar and Hangu located in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) have been fighting the Taliban unaided for years. And, their dead bodies now number thousands.

The recent extensive reporting of the plight of the Hazara Shias by the media is the result of mass protests held across the country in solidarity with the victims. The targeting of Shia doctors and other professionals in Karachi has also been an attempt to make the middle-class Shia flee abroad to leave only the poor and voiceless of their community behind. After each act of violence the Taliban/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) or Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) proudly own up the operations.

One example is from a news agency reporting from Qudrat News in Quetta: “Banned religious terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has claimed responsibility for the suicide blast on Kirani Road, Hazara Town. The spokesman, Abu Bakr Sidiq, called the news channels on Saturday evening from an identified location and said that the attack was carried out by our colleague, Umar Farooq.”

“In 2013, this was our second suicide attack in the Shia areas. Like this, we have 20 vehicles full of explosives ready for our suicide bombers. Soon as we get the order [from LEJ leader Malik Ishaq], their target will be Alamdar Road, Mehr Abad, and Hazara Town. God Willing, now we will kill Shias in their home.

“We want to tell the Sunnis, for God sake, strap your bodies with bombs and stand up with LEJ in the fight against the Shias… If Sunnis won’t rise up, then they should refrain from having any relation with the Shias because now either we will live in Balochistan or the Shias… We seek help from Allah in this fight and this fight will end as Balochistan becoming the graveyard of the Shias.”

The international community must not ignore the systematic elimination of Pakistan’s Shias, Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis. The United Nations must nominate a Special Rapporteur on the systematic elimination of Pakistan’s minorities. Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment as well as the federal and provincial governments must be asked to fulfil their responsibilities in protecting the Shias and other Muslim and non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan.

(The author is a former Member of Pakistani Parliament)

#Pakistan Police Name Suspect in #Malala Yousafzai Shooting

by Oct 18, 2012 2:18 PM EDT,

Pakistan authorities announced that a suspected Taliban member named Ataullah—who had been detained and released by the Army in 2009—is thought to be behind the attack on the 14-year-old activist.

It’s been almost two weeks since Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old peace activist from Pakistan’s Swat Valley, was shot in cold blood for daring to defy the Taliban’s archaic beliefs. More than 200 people have been arrested in the case, and subsequently released, but law enforcement has struggled to positively identify the men who attacked the young girl—until now.

Suspect arrested in Malala Yousufzsi shooting
Sherin Zada / AP Photo

Two senior officials announced that a man suspected of attacking Malala—who goes by the name of Ataullah—had been captured by the Army back in 2009 as a suspected Taliban member, but was released due to “lack of evidence.” However, they added, steps are being taken to bring him back into custody—including, one official said, the detention of his mother and two brothers. Two other relatives, who are suspected of having helped Attaullah hide as he fled Swat, have also been arrested, according to the officials.

On Oct. 9, two gunmen stopped Malala’s school bus and asked the girls aboard to identify her. Upon confirmation, they opened fire, hitting her in the head and shoulder and injuring two other girls. Malala is currently undergoing specialized treatment at a London hospital; neither she nor her friends have been able to identify the attackers.

The release of a suspected militant due to lack of evidence is nothing new, according to independent analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi. “This is a routine problem in Pakistan,” he told The Daily Beast. “We don’t have proper investigations, our prosecutors are ill-equipped to handle terrorism cases, and there is no system to protect witnesses so no one speaks up.” In addition, says Rizvi, militant groups inspired by religion have support across large segments of Pakistani society. “People don’t want to speak out against these people because they agree with their ideology. In those cases, many witnesses prefer to withhold evidence.”

Lack of evidence and flawed prosecutions may not be the only problems when it comes to putting away extremists. One of the senior officials has claimed that Attaullah was not a militant when he was arrested three years ago, but merely a “sympathizer.” According to Rizvi, rather than being discouraged in the years since, extremism has flourished. “Radicalization in Pakistan has never been easier or more widespread,” he says, adding that the intelligence agencies have a policy of ignoring extremist groups until they pose a direct threat. “This policy must stop—we can increase surveillance and stop these people before they attack if we have the will.”

Sadly, the will to act is lacking on the part of the law. Pakistan’s courts have a history of releasing suspected militants due to insufficient evidence. The most prominent among these was Malik Ishaq, the leader of the militant
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who has been implicated in dozens of cases, mostly involving murder. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has even ordered the government to quickly rebuild the Jamia Hafsa madrassa adjoining the Lal Masjid mosque and questioned the status of cases—most of which have already been dropped—pending against chief cleric Abdul Aziz. “It isn’t entirely the courts’ fault,” says Rizvi. “The prosecution is usually so subpar that they have no choice but to drop the cases or release the accused.” It doesn’t help that most terrorism cases are tried in lower district and sessions courts, whose judges are not accorded a full security protocol. “The judges are scared,” says Rizvi, “Who wouldn’t be? Look at the judge who had Mumtaz Qadri [Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s killer] declared guilty. He had to flee the country. They have no choice but to seek quick trials for their own safety.”

The Pakistani Taliban had threatened Malala in March, claiming she was one of two women on their hit list for working “in the interest of the West and supporting the imposition of secular rule in Swat.” Police have told journalists that in light of the threat, Malala had been offered protection earlier this year, but her father Ziauddin had refused. According to Ziauddin, he turned down the protection because he wanted his daughter to lead a normal life. The Taliban has already promised that if Malala survives, they will try to harm her again. For the girl who dared to dream of an education without restrictions, that normalcy may be a thing of the past.

that if Malala survives, they will try to harm her again. For the girl who dared to dream of an education without restrictions, that normalcy may be a thing of the past.



Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists


Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,225 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,860,602 hits


October 2022
%d bloggers like this: