Letter to BBC in response to their coverage of massacre of over 100 Shia Muslims in Quetta Pakistan – by Asif Zaidi

Twin blasts at a snooker hall in the south-western Pakistani city of Quetta have killed 81 people and injured more than 120, police say.


While covering today’s blasts in Quetta, Pakistan, you ascribe it to Shia-Sunni violence in the country. This is gross misrepresentation of an absolutely one-way sectarian-cleansing of Shias in Pakistan by the extremist militants. To put it very succinctly:

People are being taken off the buses and killed for being Shias after proper identification. (Why every other Pakistani in the same bus goes unscathed?)
Shias are being identified and then killed in the major urban centres.
Hazaras in Quetta are being isolated and being killed merely for being Shias.
Parachinar, Tirah, Gilgit, Baltistan, Nagar etc are being sequestered and brutally attacked just because Shias live there.

This amounts to a modern systematic cleansing of a group in Pakistan with a death toll that now surpasses that of Srebrenica Massacre recognized as genocide. The annihilation of Shias in Pakistan meets with genocide’s essential notion of complete or partial destruction of a national group as per 1948 Genocide Convention and all subsequent legal definitions of genocide. It aims to destroy a group and not just the individuals making up the group with the ultimate purpose of destroying the group’s identity to impose identity of the perpetrator. Just as the Jews and Gypsies were seen by their killers as being outside of German, Polish, and Lithuanian national groups, the Shias in Pakistan are viewed by their killers as being outside of Muslims as a group. A complete inability to identify, apprehend and bring the perpetrators to justice widens the sphere in government’s and media’s complicity in this genocide.

Shia persecution is largely an uncovered topic in the mainstream media. The wretched reality is that it is of no interest to the majority of the world. Globally, there is a severe lack of awareness on this topic as the Western media hardly discusses Shia genocide. In Pakistan, most people do not acknowledge the Shia genocide as a problem. The mainstream media in Pakistan has been silent as well. The terms like terrorism and sectarian-violence are often employed to confuse the truth of Shia-cleansing.

The killing of Shias in Pakistan epitomizes the essence of genocidal practices in partial (or complete) destruction of a national group as Lemkin understood it. It bears resemblance with the killings of Jews in the Germany of early and mid-1930s. Experience has shown that calling a case of genocide by its proper name is useful in identifying and stopping such actions. Genocide can be prevented in its early stages, but this requires decisive action. When such action is not taken, those who are indifferent to the increasing scale and intensity of violence become complicit in the exponentially increasing crimes, as we now see in Pakistan.

We must begin by identifying the victims as Shias being targeted as a religious national group regardless of their ethnic background. The clear intent is to destroy the whole group. The surviving members of the group must be viewed as co-victims in accordance with genocide’s definition.

In a backdrop such as this we look up to an institution like yours to live up to its high standards of fairness and play its due role in disabling this genocide through media reporting in the international community. Can we count on you to feed accurate information of the happenings and the intent on the ground that can lead to action by the international community?

Please use your capacity to push for action.

Yours truly,

Asif Zaidi
Source : World Shia Forum



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