Name and Remind: Nadeem F. Paracha’s silence on Shia genocide in Pakistan – by Mustafa

Not unlike Nazi Germany's silence on holocaust, there is a culture of collective silence on Shia killings in Pakistan.

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Related posts: 71 Shia Muslims target killed in Pakistan during February 2012

 58 Shia Muslims killed in Pakistan during January 2012

Nadeem F. Paracha is Pakistan’s leading progressive columnist whose articles and blogs are regularly published at Dawn newspaper.

While Nadeem has written on many important topics on Pakistani politics, culture and society, he has consistently remained silent on Shia genocide in Pakistan!

At least three major massacres of Shia Muslims took place in the last two months (Jan-Feb 2012).

  • 15 January, Khanpur, Punjab, 34 Shias massacred
  • 17 February, Parachinar, FATA, 46 Shias massacred (at least 12 of them were killed by direct firing by Pakistan’s paramilitary forces)
  • 28 February, Kohistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 19 Shias massacred (most of them from Gilgit-Balistan)

In addition to the above three major incidents, there was an ongoing target killing of Shia Muslims in various provinces and areas of Pakistan, particularly in Karachi. In total, at least 132 Shias haver been killed in the last two months whereas another 135 have been injured or maimed.

In numerical terms, Shia Muslims remain Pakistan’s most target killed faith group who are being killed by Pakistan army-sponsored Jihadi-sectarian militants (recently revived via Difa-e-Pakistan Conference).

Yet, all of this does not seem to merit the attention of Pakistan’s star journalist Nadeem Paracha, whose silence on this topic is contributing to the collective silence on Shia genocide in Pakistani society and media.

Presented below is NFP’s report card for 2012, the third post in LUBP’s Name and Remind Series!

  • January 1st: Good article on diversity and pluralism
  • January 8th: Juxtaposing the hypocrisy of Islamopatriots by their silence on discrimination and bigotry by fellow Muslims
  • January 10th: On hypernationalism which has lead to faith, as opposed to shared culture, defining nationalism in Pakistan.
  • January 12th: Comic-satrical take on political trends in Pakistan
  • January 15th: Good critique of Imran Khan’s confused political stance and exposure of his theocratic leanings. Important observation of how theocratic and fascist forces were strengthened due to the PNA movement against the elected PM Zuflikar Ali Bhutto
  • January 15th: Good critique of Pakistan’s military dictators. However comparing action on MQM with crushing Baloch-Bengali-MRD movement not the same. Also no mention of army backed massacres of Gilgit and Parachinar in 1980s. Similarly no mention of army-facilitated and directed transfer of Pashtun sovereignity and security to Taliban-Al Qaeda transnational militias, especially since 2004 to present and the massacre of their tribal elders.
  • January 19th: Good article on how Swat has been sacrificed to the Jihadis – and how Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and South Punjab have been made the laboratories of the Jihad enterprise of our establishment to the detriment of society in general
  • January 22nd: Another article on how Pakistan is essentially a religiously and sectarianally diverse country and how such differences permeate within sub sects as well.
  • January 23rd: On Maya Khan and how religious intolerance and the accompanying judgemental attitude is an urban bourgeoisie phenomena.
  • January 26th: How militancy harmed the Kashmiri struggle for autonomy. However, while the article is an excellent deconstruction of Islamism/political Islam and its origins, there is little clarification or mention of the symbiotic nature of political Islam and the military establishment.
  • January 29th: A good analysis of how excessive and forced religiousity created deep fissures within the Pakistan cricket team and how Misbah changed this by reverting back to professionalism.
  • February 2nd: A good analysis and history of the Baloch struggle with focus on the period from 1967 and the various BSO factions and their stated goals. An excellent and bold observation on how the Baloch nationalist struggle is secular-socialist in nature and which has opposed “Pakistan military establishment” backing of extremist Islamist groups like Jundullah.
  • February 5th: A history of Barelvi Sunni activism and formation of ST. While ST opposed Sipahe-e-Sahaba even before 9/11, the only group that actually took on SSP-TTP-Al Qaeda without resorting to indiscriminate massacres of Deobandis is the now defunct Shia militia, Sipah Mohammad. Also, Pashtuns of Ali Khel and Ali Zai (both Shia and Sunnis) as well as Pashtun tribal militias of Bajaur gave great sacrifices against SSP-TTP-AQ alliance.
  • February 9th: Nostalgic-historic photo archive of Pakistan Past
  • February 12th: Valid, if unequal, criticism of ZAB lead PPP-NAP government for passing the discriminatory 2nd amendment. However, “genie” of religious extremism out much earlier with 1949 “Objectives Resolution” as well as JI-Muslim Brotherhood alliances around same time. Also, Pakistan’s “Left” who participated in PNA, Lawyer’s Movement and as per some reports, support PTI, in no moral position to critique ZAB’s poor, ill-advised and compulsion driven moves to co opt Islamists. Also, “Left’s” selectivel criticism of PPP from CFD platform in 2011 is a most pathetic example of moral selectivism as well as willful omission of main players in Pakistan fanning religious extremism (ISI-Judiciary-PML, N-PTI) and those who support them (army).
  • February 16: Good exposure on how Islamists try to appropriate Left symbols with the example of Che’s daughter being a guest of the theocratic regime in Iran post revolution. Also, how this trend is now being repeated in Pakistan by Pro-Taliban politicians like Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif. Passing reference of Shia massacres by Saudi-ISI backed jihadis as “proxy war”. Excellent satire in presenting Punjabi-centric, military establishment mouthpiece, Najam Sethi, as a liberal voice.
  • February 19th: A short note on the politics of reconciliation of Benazir Bhutto. Note: “Democracy is the greatest revenge” was first said by Shaheed Mohtarma in her historic address to the US House of Representatives in 1989. It shaped her politics in stark opposition to the vengeful, chauvinistic and parochial politics of urban-based Punjabi-migrant parties like PML N and MQM. By 2007 this was not a new slogan. Yes, do “Know your Bhuttos”
  • February 21st (article in Economic Times) (“Quiet Man Standing”): Muted, vague and at times, back handed support for Pakistan’s unanimously elected Prime Minister, PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gillani. This “spineless” and “unremarkable” leader was in fact a senior minister in the last PPP government of Benazir Bhutto and went to jail for 5 years on politically motivated charges which were never proven, as is the case with the judicial anti-PPP bias. His crime was that he and Zardari did not ditch Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. Similarly, the Swiss Case proceedings were stopped in 2004 due to lack of evidence and a full 3 years before the NRO. Also, it is not just Gillani’s government but Pakistan’s Constitution as well as the Geneva Accord that grants a serving President immunity from criminal proceedings. Overall a weak article.
  • February 23rd: A satirical take on Pakistan-US relations that expose the hypernationalist fake anti-Americanism of rightwing Punjabi parties like PML N and PTI.
  • February 26th: Satirical take that seeks to juxtapose the KLF vs the DPC rally in Karachi that took place on the same day and within a 10 mile distance.
  • March 1st: A comic satirical account of an award ceremony meant to honour right-wing media commentators, conspiracy theory loons and Islamist televangelists fanning bigotry and intolerance.
  • March 5th: Good exposure of how PU has slipped firmly into the grasp of IJT – the same group that organized an event to host and award a leading CJ supporter, Samad Khurram. Now PU at the forefront in banning Shezan products from its canteen; another example of its bigotry against Ahmadi Muslims. However, a shocking omission in this article, there is no mention of the violent attack on Shia Muslims (Hussain Day) at PU just weeks earlier.

Mr. Paracha’s record as a bold, outspoken critic of the military establishment and against religious extremism puts him amongst the selective few of Pakistan’s journalists. He is not part of the rabid right wing Urdu media that openly sides with the Taliban (Ansar Abbasi, Hamid Mir, Irfan Siddiqui etc). Similarly, he stands apart from the sauve, English speaking pseudo-liberal opportunist, establishment sellouts like Ejaz Haider, Mosharaf Zaidi, Cyril Almeida, Najam Sethi, Nasim Zehra, Omar Waraich etc.

This is why it is even more a matter of concern that Nadeem Paracha has not written a single substantive post on the ongoing Shia genocide in Pakistan which highlights their perilious plight without presenting false binaries to dilute the concern and sympathy for them.

As evidenced by his writings, he neither lacks the courage or integrity and as evidenced by his tweets, he is aware of what is happening to Shias in Pakistan. The casualties caused by the use of religious hatred to further policy objectives serve to support Nadeem’s consistent narrative in support of religious pluralism and against bigotry and intolerance. Hopefully his 22nd article/blog post of 2012 will talk about this in the way that his first 21 posts this year have not so far.

Appendix: Video on Shia genocide in Pakistan and a message to Pakistan’s Chief Justice and Army Chief

From Gilgit to Karachi, Quetta to Parachinar and Karachi to D.I.Khan, Shia Muslims are being target killed in all provinces and areas of Pakistan. However, Pakistan’s judiciary, army, politicians, civil society and media either remain silent or misrepresent the Shia genocide. This video is a message to all of them particularly to the champions of justice and national security.

Kia tum bhool gaye? Pakistani media’s silence on Shia genocide



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