What role did Shia voters play in Multan by-election?

A Shia Muslim procession at Haram Gate, Multan

In his recent column in daily Dawn, Cyril Almeida offers an interesting perspective on the PPP’s victory in by-elections in Multan. In particular, he refers to the the behaviour of Shia voters:

There were the expected loyalists — the biradari voters, though many defied clan diktats, and the minorities — and there were the unexpected voters — Shias liked the original Bosan but when the PML-N threw its weight behind the replacement Bosan, Shias baulked at voting for a guy supported by the party of Rana Sanauallah and his Shia-baiting extremist friends.

This, then, could be an eye-opener and a lesson for not only PML-N but also PTI and their common hero Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Both of these parties along with CJ Chaudhry are known to have sympathies towards murderers of Shias and other persecuted communities of Pakistan. CJ Chauhdry happens to be Rana Sanaullah’s first cousin and has personally overseen release of terrorists such as Malik Ishaq, Maulana Abdul Aziz (Laal Masjid), Hafiz Saeed etc. PTI has formally shared stage with ASWJ-LeJ terrorists on the platform of the ISI-sponsored Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC). And PML-N, as Cyril rightly notes, has publicly displayed its alliance with the ASWJ-LeJ-Taliban and Taliban through several statements and actions.

Therefore, consistent with the principle of “democracy is the best revenge”, Shia voters in Multan deemed it fit to exact a peaceful revenge on those who are friends with their murderers. They refused to vote for Bosan, a joint candidate of PML-N, PTI, CJ Chaudhry and ASWJ-SSP-LeJ.

According to international data on Pakistan, Shias constitute approximately 20 per cent of the country’s total 190 million people. This is too huge a vote bank to be ignored or offended.

More than 125,000 votes were casts in the Multan by-election. It will be safe to assume that at least 25,000 of them were Shia voters. Did some of these Shia voters reject the PML-N, PTI joint candidate due to these parties’ lenient approach towards ASWJ-DPC?

As far as CJ Chaudhry is concerned, Pakistan’s Shia Muslims (not unlike Sunni Barelvis, Ahmadis, moderate Deobandis, Christians and others) have nothing but contempt for a man who has most insensitively ignored Shia genocide and persecution of other communities at the hands of those who are friends with his own first cousin.

Only a few weeks ago on 1 July 2012, in a grand Shia rally in Lahore (Quran-o-Sunnat Conference), a crowd of 300,000 Shia Muslims applauded a poem by Zawar Hussain Bismil of Multan criticizing CJ Chaudhry. This was the largest ever show of public contempt for a top judge in any country.


Ordinary Shia Muslims’ contempt for PML-N, PTI and Chief Justice Chaudhry due to their sympathies towards ASWJ-LeJ-Taliban extremists is also evident in the following video by ShiaKilling.com, a Shia genocide watch website:


Iornically, the ShiaKilling.com website was blocked in Pakistan a few days ago by none other than the PPP government. Although the website was later restored, interior minister Rehman Malik is ultimately responsible for the violent police action on peaceful Shia protesters in Karachi who wanted their website to be unblocked.

This fact cannot be denied that Shia Muslims are the most target killed faith group in Pakistan. As noted by Kamran Shafi in a recent op-ed in Express Tribune:

Let every institution understand that the much-hackneyed saying ‘United we Stand, Divided we Fall’ is staring every Pakistani right in the eye for we are a house bitterly divided. In which religious extremism, particularly against our minorities, both religious and ethnic, has scaled new heights of savagery and utter, cold, cruelty. I have often told the story of how in my grandmother’s house in Wah village where there was not a single Shia house, we were not allowed to play the radio (and later the television) during Muharram. And now we get people off buses and shoot them dead in front of their own wives and children just because they have Shia sounding names? I mean my own daughter, may my life be hers, is Zainab. So? Indeed, may I ask My Lords who sit on the Supreme Court with a wary eye out for any chance to take suo motu action, why none has been taken on the far too many Shia and Hazara cold-blooded and cruel massacres in Kohistan and Quetta? May I also point out to Their Lordships that not content with their gory deeds, the beasts recorded and uploaded them on YouTube too. Surely if Mansur Ijaz’s BlackBerry could be found to have been forensically kosher long-distance, these murderers can also be found through IP addresses and so on? And who are these monsters: the ‘assets’ of our great strategists, who will be used when our country expands its borders across Central Asia!

While Pakistan army and its various agencies are indeed complicit in Shia genocide at the hands of their Jihadi assets, the PPP government’s inaction and silence on this issue is hard to be forgiven and forgotten. That, the Shia voters of Pakistan did choose a PPP candidate over PMLN-PTI joint candidate in NA 151 is not a guarantee that the same pattern will continue for ever. Shia voters, which constitute 20% of total population and voters in Pakistan, may instead choose a third, more dangerous path, i.e., refuse to vote for any party and sit idle in their homes the way many PPP voters did during 1996 elections. That could be a serious blow to the PPP.

Can the PPP afford to ignore Cyril’s sane advice?

[Despite the fact that the PPP did win in Multan and 64,000 votes is a decent enough result,] that leaves the PPP a significant 13,000 votes short of the elder Gilani’s winning tally of 77,000 in 2008. The PPP everyman — the party worker and loyal voter — is unhappy. He wants to know, what have I got in the last four and a half years? So come …election time, a chunk of the party workers and loyal voters looked at the PPP and shrugged. That’s a problem sure to be replicated in PPP constituencies across the country.



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