While the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is held in high esteem by those who stand for human rights and condemn its violations, both within and outside Pakistan, it is very unfortunate that a towering organization with considerable audience and influence is either silent or misrepresentative on the genocide of Shias in Pakistan.
The most recent statement (April11) by the Chairperson Zohra Yusuf not only raises several questions on the credibility of the commission, but is characteristic of the cruelly negligent and cold attitude that is otherwise the domain of ISPR, and not worthy of at least the HRCP stamp on it.
The cautiously and diplomatically worded HRCP statement conveniently blames “religious intolerance cultivated by the state” for what it calls the “mindless bloodshed that we witness day in and day out”. The statement then unfaithfully uses the misleading term “sectarian violence” for what is clearly one-side genocide of Shias in Pakistan. Usage of such misleading clichés, gives an impression that the events in Pakistan are of reciprocal nature, in which the opposing parties are mindlessly killing each other, when the reality is far from it.
This is therefore not surprising that the Commission has clearly avoided identifying either the victims or the perpetrators of what it calls “sectarian violence”. This dishonestly is further exposed when one sees that throughout the statement, the word Shia, the most frequently targeted group in Pakistan, doesn’t even appear once! The report also fails to make any reference to the ISI, and the terrorist group – Sipah-e-Sahaba/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi/Ahl-e-Sunnat-wal-Jamaat (essentially the same organization) that openly declares Shias as apostates and takes responsibility for their killings.
Hundreds of Shias have been killed all across Pakistan in 2012 alone, and this is not “mindless violence”as HRCP wants us to believe. It is the calculated genocide of a single religious group whose members are being killed wherever possible. The HRCP only vaguely asks the state to “identify the policies that strengthen extremism and promote faith-based hatred in society”, once again giving an impression that people at the mass level are involved in killing each other. This is a gross distortion of the situation.
The same group(s) killing Shias are also targetting and oppressing other faith groups such as Sunni muslims (Barelvis, Ahmadis, Deobandis), Christains, Sikhs. They have been emboldened and strenghtened directly the State due to the latter’s goals of Strategic Depth – the policy of exerting influence in Afghanistan and India via non-state militant proxies.
Further perturbing is the fact that of all the organizations, it is HRCP that is regurgitating aspects of the ISPR narrative. The statement by the Commission includes the involvement of “miscreants from Afghanistan” as one of the reasons behind the continuing violence in Pakistan. It is either embarrassing ignorance or utter dishonesty on the part ofthe HRCP to ignore that Jihadis actually go from Pakistan to Afghanistan and not the other way around. Pakistan has been the boot camp for terrorism both inside and outside Pakistan, with Punjab being the birthplace of jihadi-sectarian groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Lashkar-e-Tayabba/Jamaat ud Dawa.
For decades now, the Deobandi religious seminaries, supervised by the Security Establishment (which controls the Pakistani State) and funded with petro-dollars, have served as factories pumping both indoctrinated jihadis as well as hate literature against other religious groups – especially Shias and Ahmedis. Copied below is an example of hate literature. It is a pamphlet distributed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – the militant wing of the Sipah-e-Sahaba a.k.a. Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. The pamphet is very explicit in that it apostasizes Shia muslims and deems their killing as “Wajib – ul- Qatal” (mandatory by faith)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (primary affiliate of Al Qaeda in Pakistan) incitment to Shia Genocide
(For further details refer to LeJ’s Fatwa against Shias and hit list against Pakistanis of all faiths)
But the HRCP statement is deeply deficient – both in providing solutions as well as in identifying the nexus of ISI-backed Jihadi extremists who are committing Shia Genocide. It is silent on the role of the army and intelligence agencies – against whom it asks no questions of. It also ignores the horrendous role of a deeply politisized judiciary that is deaf and blind to Shia genocide, but sets free even the very few terrorists who are arrested- terrorists like Malik Ishaq who publically boast of mass murders of Shias. It doesn’t even address the government and its incompetant and seemingly biased interior minister to take concrete steps in this regard.
In times of such distress and dearth of support, it is certain that Shias of Pakistan would seek and reach out to people and organizations who would at least speak for them, and when an organization of the reputation and standing of HRCP not only shuns them, but becomes an indirect partner to the crime by its obfuscation of the issue, it is not only unfortunate, but also borders on complicity.
It is further disturbing that when someone dares to question the HRCP, or for that matter any other “liberal” Don on their silence or misrepresentation of Shia Genocide, the self-proclaimed liberal elites of Pakistan gang up to bully, corner and silence both the questioner while simultaneously distorting their criticism. We leave this question to the so-called liberals of Pakistan to decide whether or not this attitude conforms with the high moral standards of the liberal tradition (central to which is the ability to consider an alternate viewpoint). However, we do want to inform the HRCP that while some of us have already been disillusioned by their apathy, some might still be looking up to them with expectations. If you still can, try to look them in the eyes.
Anwar Changezi on Twitter: @AnwarChangezi