Raza Rumi’s recent article in Express Tribune (Great expose of the unelected) touched upon the ongoing Shia Genocide in Pakistan and we appreciate him on highlighting this important issue. The same article, probably unwittingly, reinforced a deeply questionable binary, in that, it lumped the perpetrators as Sunni Muslims.
The year 2012 was also the year of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which continued the acts of terror against Pakistan and its civilians. Its allies, the Sunni extremist groups, added to the mayhem by targeting Shias, including the members of the Hazara community.
Unfortunately, this same binary “Sunni militants killing Shias” has done much to obfuscate the reality of Shia Genocide by Takfiri Deobandi militants of Sipah Sahaba Taliban (operating under various aliases such as ASWJ, LeJ, TTP, Jundullah etc). This obfuscation has increased the confusion amongst Pakistanis and the world community and therefore made any possible solutions even more difficult to develop and implement.
For starters, Sunni Muslims have often protested that it is unfair to dub them all in the same category. Therefore, Barelvi Sunnis who form a significant part (at least 50%) of Pakistan’s population and at one time may have constituted an out right majority are not party to Shia Genocide. Here is a relevant video of a Sunni activist re-stating this fact
Mufti Muhammad Abid Mubarak (Sunni Barelvi scholar) asks Aurangzeb Farooqi Deobandi of Sipah Sahaba to refrain from using the name of Ahle Sunnat (Sunni Muslims) in promoting their Takfiri Deobandi agenda.
Like the Shia and Ahmadi Muslims of Pakistan, Sunni Barelvis too have suffered at the hands of ISI-backed and Saudi-funded Takfiri Deobandi militants. Here is a quick list of mass attacks on Sunni Barelvis by Deobandi militants of Sipah Sahaba Taliban.
Attack on Data Darbar, Lahore
Attack on Jhal Magsi, Balochistan
Attack on Bari Imam, Islamabad
Attack on Rehman Baba Shrine, Peshawar
Attack on Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Karachi
Attack on Nishtar Park on Milad Celebration in Karachi
These are just some of the most prominent attacks by Deobandi militants on Sunnis Barelvis.
However, it will be unfair generalization as even moderate Deobandis have suffered at the hands of Takfiri Deobandis. From prominent scholars like Maulana Hasan, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai and Maulana Yusuf Binori who did not survive to prominent leaders of JI (Qazi Hussain Ahmed) and JUI-F (Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani etc) who have been relentless attacked, even Deobandis have suffered at the hands of Takfiri Deobandis. The term Takfiri denotes the adjective to apostasize – an extremist tendency that logically assumes a violent dimension to wipe out any dissenting views.
And it is these Takfiri Deobandis that are the sole beneficiaries of the Pakistan army-Saudi backing in their quest for strategic depth in Afghanistan. Locally, they are dominated by interconnected groups the main one of which is Sipah Sahaba (ASWJ). ASWJ itself has chosen a name (Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) that by definition misrepresents them as the sole face of Sunni Muslims. It is difficult to tell where ASWJ ends and LeJ (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) begins but both are known to be the main Takfiri Deobandi affiliates of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
In Pakistan today, the overwhelming majority of terrorism is proudly owned by the interconnected nexus of Sipah Sahaba Taliban. Contrary to the false narratives presented by Pro-military establishment mouthpieces and apologists, these groups share the same sponsors and financiers (Pakistan army generals and Saudi ideologues) and have been watching out for one another since before 9/11 when a Pakistani delegation to extradite Takfiri Deobandi (Sipah Sahaba) terrorists had its demands rejected by the Taliban. Refer to SATP report and this short excerpt that highlights this linkage:
Both the SSP (renamed ASWJ) and LeJ maintain that they are not organisationally linked. But, few analysts of the sectarian conflict in Pakistan believe this to be true. Their cadres come from the same madrassas as also a similar social milieu. The SSP leadership has never criticised the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi because the two organisations share the same sectarian belief system and worldview. They also have a similar charter of demands, which includes turning Pakistan into a Sunni state. Both the outfits have consistently resorted to violence and killings to press their demands, though the SSP has also been attempting to adopt a political path.
The SSP (renamed ASWJ) and LeJ have very close links with the Taliban militia. They assisted the Taliban in every way they can both in Afghanistan and within Pakistan. They have fought alongside the Taliban militia in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance. Besides, all three groups are closely linked in their fight against the Shias, be it in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. LeJ and SSP cadres reportedly played an active part in the massacres of Shias by the erstwhile Taliban regime in Afghanistan
By obfuscating the identity of the Takfiri Deobandi perpetrators of terrorism in Pakistan, analysts are doing a great disservice to Pakistanis and a great service to ASWJ (Sipah Sahaba). Labelling them as Sunnis instead of their specific identity (Deobandi militants) is tantamount to lumping the victims and their perpetrators under one heading!
It may require a few more key strokes but to not highlight who is doing the killing (Sipah Sahaba Taliban) and what motivates and coalesces them (Takfiri Deobandism) and who their primary backers are (army, Saudia) can we honestly come any closer to apprehending these criminals and towards peace.
Recently, pressure has been exerted on LUBP to drop the Takfir Deobandi narrative and use the popular but deeply flawed and misrepresentative tag “Sunni militants” or “Sunni extremists” or “radical Sunnis”. For those who want LUBP to drop Deobandi militants, have the suggested that analysts also drop “Sunni militants”.
If the desire is to continue confusing the public on the very identity of the perpetrators, then “Sunni militants” is the best way to increase confusion even as the same “Sunni militants” who are specifically TD are massacring both Barelvis and Deobandis in Pakistan. If clarity and the way forward is required, one has to be specific and not vague and call out the Deobandi militants of Sipah Sahaba (ASWJ). Unfortunately, Pakistan’s “liberals” are doing just the opposite when they promote Sipah Sahaba apologist (Tahir Ashrafi Deobandi) and its leader (Ahmed Ludhianvi Deobandi) as “moderate leaders” and “prophets of peace”.
In picture: Shia protesters in Toronto Canada protest against Deobandi militants (13 Jan 2013)
Postscript: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik too admitted that Shia genocide in Pakistan is not an outcome of Sunni-Shia sectarian violence. Speaking to Shia and Sunni protesters against Shia genocide, Mr Malik said that Takfiri Deobandi terrorists of LeJ-ASWJ, not Sunnis, were killing Shias.
لندن میں شیعہ نسل کشی کے خلاف احتجاج کرنے والے شیعہ سُنی سے پاکستان کے وزیر داخلہ رحمان ملک نے بات چیت کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ پاکستان میں شیعہ سُنی کا مسئلہ نہیں بلکہ شیعوں کے قتل عام میں کالعدم سپاہ صحابہ،لشکر جھنگوی ملوث ہیں۔