My Op-ed on the organized killing of Shias of Hazara origin in Pakistan. published in Urdu Times. To read the article in Urdu please click the following link to access the PDF file in Urdu. An English version is also shared below.
Who is really responsible for Hazara Shia Genocide in Pakistan?
This is an English version f My Op-ed at Urdu Times on the genocide of Hazara Shia citizens of Pakistan. The article not only condemns the organized murder of Shias of Hazara origins but also the killings of all Shias in Pakistan. It will be futile to discuss the issue without fully comprehending the background of Shia murders in Pakistan.
The Op-ed argues that anti Shia hatred in Pakistan became organized and stronger during the reign of Pakistani army dictator Gen Ziaul Haq. He professed the Wahabi thought and was fully supported by the Wahabi rulers of Saudi Arabia during the first Afghan Jihad. At that time Saudi security and intelligence establishment worked directly with Pakistan authorities.
Saudi government has a historic relationship with the orthodox Wahabi clergy, and there have been marriages among the members of Saudi monarchy and Saudi clergy. This relationship actively colludes and works to promote orthodox Wahabi interpretation of Islam around the world. The Wahabis take inspirations from Ibn e Taimiyah, a major Islamic scholar of the 13th and 14th century. He opined that due to their heretic beliefs certain Shias could be declared infidels and be rightfully killed.
Such philosophy got support and was promoted during Zia’s regime and poison of anti Shia hatred spread in the thoughts of ordinary Muslim citizens of Pakistan.
During the Afghan Jihad, various guerilla and terrorist groups were overtly and covertly supported by the Pakistani security establishment to agitate in Afghanistan as well as in the areas of Indian controlled Kashmir. This led to creation of terrorist organizations including Sipah e Sahaba, Jaish e Mohammadi, Lashkar e Jhangwi and other such clandestine groups.
In many countries where armies seize dictatorial control of governance, their secret services support and promote armed terrorist organization to create problem for their neighbors and also use the same groups to creates bloody internal strife so that the politicians of these countries are maligned and sidelined. That forces the masses to look towards their militaries for protection and peace. Many Latin American countries have gone through these phases. Unfortunately Pakistan also belongs to the same category. Like the Latin countries thousands of citizens have disappeared and mothers still search for their lost sons and daughters. In Latin America many mass graves have been discovered exposing the hands of clandestine agencies. In Pakistan several citizens have been found in the custody of security establishments when the Supreme Court issued strict Habeas Corpus rulings.
Despite a façade of democracy many institutions and security establishment in Pakistan remain in the control of Pakistan army and its subsidiaries. Paramilitary forces like the Rangers, Frontier Constabulary, and others nominally report to the civil government and their commanders are either seconded from the army or are selected and approved by the army.
If we look at Baluchistan where most of the Shias of Hazara origins reside, we can find that for the last many years army and paramilitary have been directly and covertly involved in brutally crushing the Baluchistan nationalist movements. It is said that it is impossible to evade the intelligence and security network of these agencies. As suggested earlier, hundreds of Baluch activists have disappeared in the areas controlled by these agencies, and some of these have been found through the involvement of Pakistan Supreme Court. Very few have been released and some have died in custody even after their discovery.
In the Pakistani theatre of the absurd the political government of Baluchistan has been accused of poor governance in the matters of security and removed despite the fact that the law and order in these areas has been under direct and indirect military control for the last many years. This has been pointed out by many Pakistani journalists and Human Rights activists.
It is surprising that despite the claims of a known terrorist group to own the responsibility of murder and mayhem against the Hazara Shia community and Shias elsewhere, the security establishment has done nothing outstanding to curtail or eliminate such groups. It may be speculated that the security establishment allows such atrocities so that even the nominal democratic set up in Pakistan is jeopardized.
It is also sad a fact that during the reign of General Zia, several elements of Pakistan army also were influenced by anti Shia bias. It is also said that several Shia cultural symbolic practices in the army were reduced or eliminated. One such example is the gradual fading away of the war cry of “Naara e Hyderi – Ya Ali” This was asserted by the mother of martyred soldier Yasser Abbas at Pakistan’s national TV.
Some of the leaders of the Hazara community have demanded that the law and order control of their areas be handed over to the army. Several commentators in Pakistan and abroad are surprised by such a demand since Pakistan’s non civilian security establishment already exerts huge influence on the law and order management of the affected province. They also ask, if the responsibilities of killings are accepted by the well known terrorist organizations, while there is a major presence of army in the area, then which other army is being called for to manage the affairs.
People of Pakistan and Hazara and other Shias should better understand that their murders are the acts of those whom are using a double edged sword to assist those orthodox Wahabi terrorists who have no qualms of declaring the Shias as the infidels, and at the same time these acts strengthen the aims of those who do not want a democratic set up to flourish, and want to delay or cancel the forthcoming elections on the excuse of law and order.
The killers are not wearing any masks and are not hiding their identities and it is strange that Pakistani security establishment fails to take any action against them and the Supreme Court does not bring these elements to justice.
The bitter truth is that the poison of General Zia’s policies based on religious and sectarian biases has conditioned and blinded the people. Those who have been influenced by Wahabi thought have no qualms in declaring the Shias as heretics and infidels who should be eliminated with impunity.
If the people of Hazara origin need peace then they should demand that a political system that is free of religious and sectarian biases be allowed to succeed, instead of demanding the army to interfere in governance. They should agitate for a system where the army wholeheartedly accepts the civilian authority and is ready to eliminate the terrorism in the areas where it is stationed and deployed to bring peace.