Should we not condemn Sunni genocide taking place in Pakistan?

At least 50 Sunnis Barelvis were killed by SSP-ASWJ-Taliban terrorists in Sakhi Sarwar D.G.Khan in April 2011

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Often, when we highlight the ongoing and systematic massacres of Shia Muslims taking place in Pakistan, we are asked not only by right-wing activists of Jamaat-e-Islami, Sipah-e-Sahaba, PML-N and and PTI (of Imran Khan) but also by seemingly liberal and progressive colleagues, “why are you silent on Sunni genocide?”

Such discourse serves to rationalize and misrepresent Shia genocide in Pakistan as a tit for tat sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias. Uncritically such discourse is routinely published and recycled in Pakistani and international media.

This post briefly addresses the above question by considering three interconnected questions:

1. How do we define Sunni genocide?

2. Is there a Sunni genocide taking place in Pakistan?

3. Should we not condemn Sunni genocide the way we condemn Shia, Baloch or Pashtun genocide?

Here are my random thoughts on this subject. The aim is to start a debate on this much ignored and misunderstood topic.

For objectivity, Sunni genocide may be defined in the same terms in which Shia genocide is defined.

When followers of a particular sect are declared kafir (infidel) and wajibul-qatl (must be killed) by an extremist group of a different sect, and when the extremist group indiscriminately attacks, harasses and kills the followers of the kafir and wajibul-qatl sect in a systematic and organized manner, such phenomenon may be described as sectarian genocide.

Now it is on record that certain Jihadi-sectarian militants (particularly Takfiri Deobandis belonging to Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (also known as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi), Taliban and other affiliated groups) have issued fatwa (religious decree) of kufr (infidelity) and qatl (murder) of Shia Muslims. Empirical data suggests that Shias in all provinces and areas of Pakistan, from all walks of life (doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, soldiers, bureaucrats, scholars), including those who don’t belong to any religious party, have been killed indiscriminately. In the last two months (Jan-Feb 2012), at least 129 Shia Muslims have been target killed in Pakistan and a similar number has been injured or maimed. Their only crime: They were Shia Muslims.

58 Shia Muslims killed in Pakistan in January 2012

71 Shia Muslims target killed in Pakistan during February 2012

Overall, at least 20,000 Shia Muslims have been killed in Pakistan by Takfiri Deobandi terrorists of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban. However, we do not see any fatwas of kufr or qatl against Sunni Muslims by any Shia organization or group. Similarly, there is no statistical data or evidence of indiscriminate killing of Sunni Muslims by Shia activists in any part of Pakistan. Also, there is no evidence that Pakistan’s military establishment is supporting banned Shia organizations. In contrast refer to the AHRC report: “It is hard to refute the accusation that military is involved in killing of Shias in Pakistan”.

What is often, naively or dishonestly, described as Sunni genocide is the reactive, disproportionately few acts of violence by the Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), a largely defunct, banned Shia group, which has specifically attacked and killed some Takfiri Deobandi militants or affiliates of the Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) who are involved in Shia genocide in Pakistan. SMP has never conducted indiscriminate attacks on ordinary Sunni Muslims in their offices, mosques and markets, nor has it ever attacked the police, army or government officials which is unlike SSP-ASWJ terrorists. The scale of violence by Shia militants is as disproportionate and minuscule as is Palestinians’ violence against Israel or Kashmiris’ violence against Indian army.

Thus, Shia militants may be alleged of killing the enemy combatant, the Takfiri Deobandi SSP-ASWJ cadre, which must not be misconstrued as Sunni genocide. (For example, we are aware of how Pakistan army uses the razakar tribal lashkars (voluntary tribal fighters) to fight with and kill the “bad Taliban” in FATA.) Of course, we condemn all forms of violence including those by the persecuted and target killed groups. It is our considered opinion that law enforcement agencies as well as judiciary are responsible to award exemplary and strict punishment to Takfiri Doebandi-Salafi terrorists. Judiciary and intelligence agencies have, however, failed in performing their duties due to a number of reasons which is a separate topic.

However, there is silent Sunni genocide taking place in Pakistan, not at the hands of Shia Muslims but at the hands of Takfiri Deobandis, which remains grossly ignored and unreported. For a detailed account of crimes against ALL Pakistanis by Takfiri Deobandis, review this post. 9 out 10 terrorists in Pakistan are Deobandi militants.

In the last few years, thousands of Sunni Barelvi Muslims and also some moderate Deobandi and Ahle Hadith Muslims have been killed by Takfiri Deobandi terrorists of ASWJ-SSP-Taliban. Sunni Barelvi mosques and shrines have been attacked in all provinces and areas of Pakistan, e.g. Data Darbar in Lahore, Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi, Baba Farid in Pakpattan, Sakhi Sarwar in D.G.Khan, Barri Imam in Islamabad, Rahman Baba in Peshawar etc. Moderate Sunni leaders including Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi, Dr. Muhammad Farooq, Maulana Hasan Jan, Maulana Abbas Qadri and others have been killed, their murder proudly claimed by the Deobandi militants of ASWJ-SSP-Taliban. Taliban and their ASWJ-SSP affiliates have issued statements of kufr and qatl of moderate Sunni leaders who oppose their violent and brutal tactics in the name of Islam.

In other words, Sunni genocide, particularly Sunni Barelvi genocide, is taking place in Pakistan. And the responsibility clearly lies with the same militants who are killing innocent Shias, Christians, Ahmadis and other persecuted groups.

Of course, we must not only highlight the Sunni Barelvi genocide but also clearly identify and condemn the Deobandi footsoldiers (ASWJ-SSP-Taliban) responsible for the Sunni genocide and also identify and condemn the financiers (Saudi Arabia, other Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf) and mentors and trainers (Pakistan army, ISI) of the Jihadi-Deobandi footsoldiers.

In summary, Sunni genocide and Shia genocide must not be misconstrued as a tit for tat violence. Both genocides are being carried out by Takfiri Deobandi terrorists. In principle, all indiscriminate attacks on innocent Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadis must be documented and condemned with evidence. However, retaliatory attacks on combatant militant outfits (SSP-ASWJ, Taliban) must not be misconstrued as indiscriminate attacks on Sunnis. Majority of moderate Sunni Muslims have boldly and honestly dissociated themselves from ASWJ-SSP-Taliban terrorists. Therefore, Shia genocide must not be attributed to Sunni Muslims and Sunni genocide must not be attributed to Shia Muslims but to Takfiri Deobandi terrorists supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan army.

32 responses to “Should we not condemn Sunni genocide taking place in Pakistan?”

  1. There are serious questions about the Shia enclave in Kurram (Parachinar) where cleansing of Sunnis took place. There are also reports of Shia cleansing from Sadda and other parts of Kurram and other Agencies controlled by the Taliban. We condemn all forms of sectarian cleansing and demand that Shias and Sunnis must relocate their brothers and sisters of all sects in their ancestral houses. Needless to say if any Shias were involved in sectarian cleansing of Sunnis from their areas, they must be boldly condemned, and vice versa.

    Personally I have zero tolerance on violence against non-combatant, non-militants of any sect or ethnicity. Rest can be debated.

    I wish we could be more impartial too or at least let others present the other side of the story

    The only caveat: we must distinguish between BLA’s attacks on Pak army vs their attacks on ordinary Punjabis. Similarly, we must distinguish Shias’ attacks on innocent Sunnis (e.g., Parachinar sectarian cleansing if true) vs their attacks on SSP-Taliban.

  2. True! Every human is precious and respectable irrespective their faith..unless believe is not inhuman and terrorizing….

  3. From Twitter:

    Express Tribune’s dishonesty.

    First it hid identify of Shia lawyers killed in Karachi. Then it published SSP’s propaganda on Sunni genocide!

    “10 Sunni scholars killed in Quetta” Uncritically quotes a JUI (SSP’s birthplace) leader’s statement as a matter of fact:

    Shame on BBC Urdu. Identity of Shia lawyers concealed. No mention of ongoing #ShiaKilling in Pakistan

    Silence on Shia genocide by BBC Urdu is a legacy of Mohammed Hanif

    #BBC Urdu, like most wire services relies on its stringers is #Pakistan. IF the stringer is biased or ignorant . .

    Abdul Nishapuri ‏
    @tufailelif Misrepresenting ISI-sponsored #ShiaKilling as sectarian violence is not right. @_Haroon_Rashid_ @BBCUrdu @NukeMalik

    There is a need to research on BBC Urdu’s silence or misrep on #ShiaKilling in Pakistan

    Only yesterday, a Shia Muslim’s house was attacked in Waziristan, he, his wife, 12 year old son were killed!

    Look at TL of Pakistan’s urban elites on Twitter. Are they talking about #ShiaKilling? Why would they? They are Yazid’s progeny!

    Does it add to @etribune’s credibility when it hides that two lawyers killed today were Shia Muslims?

    According to @etribune’s report: “The motive of this attack is still unknown” – Epic! #ShiaKilling #Silence #Apathy

    People of Pakistan will never forget that while Pakistan’s Shias were being slaughtered, Imran Khan’s PTI was supporting ASWJ-DPC!

    If one has to believe @etribune, there is an equal Sunni genocide taking place in Pakistan. FIR crossed, case closed! #ShiaKilling

    Sadly, Najam Sethi’s TFT is supporting ASWJ-SSP terrorists thru dishonest narratives on #ShiaKilling:

  4. tum kuch nahi kar sakte.zardari..
    Tum to beghairat cheez ho tum kuch kar sakte ho mujhe btao.harami insan tm ne mere mulak ko jhinjhor k rakha hua hai..

  5. Woah this weblog is wonderful i love reading your articles. Stay up the great paintings! You realize, many persons are looking around for this information, you can help them greatly.

  6. Codemning genocide of Shia or Sunni or any other sect individually is not a wise act. Condemning “Muslim genocide” is a right way.

  7. The writer should note that ‘barelvis’ are NOT sunnis or ahl r hadith but the claim themselves to be which is wrong.

  8. In May 2005, some 20 people were killed and 82 wounded in a suicide attack targeting the mausoleum of Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi (1617–1705), more commonly known as Barri Imam to his devotees.

    The Barri Imam shrine lies at Nurpur Shahan, a village located at the Margalla foothills in Islamabad.

    Apart from receiving spiritual knowledge from a widely-acknowledged saint Hazrat Hayat-al-Mir (Zinda Pir), Barri Imam had traveled extensively throughout Kashmir, Badakhshan (Afghanistan), Bukhara (Uzbekistan), Mashhad (Iran), Baghdad (Iraq) and Damascus (Syria) etc to master fiqh, hadith, logic, mathematics, medicine and other disciplines.

    It is said that once Moghul Emperor, Aurangzeb Alamgir, had himself came to pay his respects to Barri Imam. It was Aurangzeb Alamgir who had originally built the silver-mirrored shrine of Barri Imam.

    On March 5, 2009, unidentified miscreants had blown up the mausoleum of Rehman Baba (1653–1711), the most-revered mystic poet of the Pashtuns.

    The terrorists had planted four bombs inside the structure of the shrine situated in Hazarkhwani area of Peshawar, almost destroying the grave, the gates of the adjacent mosque, the canteen and the conference hall. No one was hurt in the bombing, but the blast has left the local residents deeply shaken.

    The shrine’s watchman had received a threat from suspected militants on his cell phone three days ago. He told police that the attack had taken place to crack down on the tradition of women making pilgrimages to the site of the grave of Rehman baba.

    Rehman Baba had lived during the Moghul era and is famous for penning down an anthology that contains 343 poems.

    A collection of his poetry has been treasured by the British Library in London, the Bibliotheque Nationale Library in Paris, the John Rylands Library in Manchester, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the University Library of Aligarh.

    Rehman Baba, along with his contemporary Khushal Khan Khattak, is considered one of the most popular poets among the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The shrine had reopened in November 2012 after Rs39 million reconstructions.

    On July 1, 2010, at least 42 people were killed and more than 180 others wounded after two suicide bombers had attacked the shrine of Hazrat Daata Sahib in Lahore.

    Abul Hassan Ali Hajvery (990-1077), also known as Daata Ganj Bakhsh, was a Persian Sufi and scholar of the 11th century. He had significantly contributed to the spreading of Islam in South Asia.

    Globally-known for his book “Kashf Al Mahjub” (Revelation of the Veiled), Data sahib’s towering stature can be gauged from the fact that it was a practice of Sufi saints coming to South Asia to first visit his shrine.

    For example, as many of us know, upon arriving in the subcontinent, Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri had first paid homage at Hazrat Daata Ganjn Bakhsh’s shrine, where he had spent time in meditation before attaining enlightenment.

    Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri was then directed by his mentor to settle in Ajmer Sharif (India)

    and carry out his spiritual mission.

    On October 7, 2010, at least nine people were killed and another 55 others injured after two suicide bombings had occurred at Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine in Karachi.

    Hailing from the linage of the Fourth Islamic Caliph Hasan Ibne Ali Ibne Abu Talib, Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi had lived nearly 1300 years ago.

    He had caused a lot of concern amongst the powerful Ummayyad dynasty of the time, which had to dispatch an army to Sindh to diffuse the influence of the saint.

    During the fight with a well-equipped Army, Abdullah Shah Ghazi had displayed exemplary valour in the face of the Ummayyad dynasty.

    His brother, Misry Shah, who is also buried along the coastline in Karachi, is also remembered as a saint.

    On October 25, 2007, at least six people were killed and more than 15 others injured in a motorcycle bomb attack outside the shrine of Hazrat Khawaja Fariduddin Masud Ganjshakar (1173-1266) at Pakpattan, near Sahiwal.

    Baba Farid’s lineage is traced back to the second Caliph Umar ibn Khattab (RA). His mentor (murshid) was Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (RA), who is buried in New Delhi near the Qutab Minar.

    Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki was the disciple of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri (RA).

    Nizamuddin Auliya/Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia was the disciple of Khawaja Fariduddin Masud Ganjshakar.

    On April 3, 2011, a pair of bombings had occurred at the Dera Ghazi Khan shrine of a 13th-century Sufi saint, Hazrat Ahmed Sultan, also known as Sakhi Sarwar. This attack had left more than 50 people dead, besides wounding 120 humans.

    Amended by first Moghul King Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, Sakhi Sarwar’s shrine is a unique building of Mughul architecture.

    Thousands of devotees from all over the subcontinent come here on the annual birth celebrations of Hazrat Sakhi Sarwar in March every year to pay their respect to him.

    On June 21, 2012, a bomb on a donkey cart had killed three people at the shrine of Hazrat Panj Peer (the shrine of five saints) in Peshawar. The shrine houses the graves of several Sufi saints. The tomb of popular Pashto poet Rahman Baba is also located near the Panj Peer shrine.

    On October 28, 2012, four persons were killed when a bomb had exploded at the shrine of Hazrat Kaka Sahib at Nowshehra.

    On November 3, 2012, the shrine of Phandu baba at Chamkani, near Peshawar, was bombed and partially destroyed.

    Earlier, the bomb disposal squad had defused an improvised explosive device at the shrine of Hazrat Umer Baba in the same village.

    And on February 26, 2013, four persons had died and 10 other injured, when an explosive device planted in the compound of the shrine of Pir Hajan Shah Huzoori at Marri village near Shikarpur, had exploded.


    The death toll in the blast that took place at the Sakhi Sarwar shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan on Sunday evening reached 50 on Monday.

    Police investigations have revealed that the attack was planned in Bajaur Agency. The police have arrested three terrorists in this connection.

    The shrine which was cordoned off following the terror attack was reopened to the public amid tight security. However, shops in the region remain shut.

    Bombers stayed in Al Madina hotel

    The terrorists involved in the Dera Ghazi Khan attack stayed in Al Madina Hotel on March 29.

    Initial police investigation revealed that the terrorists stayed in room number 21 of the hotel in city’s popluated area of Fareedi Bazar.

    Police have seized check-in and check-out records of the hotel and also arrested four hotel workers on suspicion.

    Updated from print edition (below)

    Bombers target Sakhi Sarwar shrine

    At least 44 people have been killed and 120 wounded in a double suicide bomb attack at a shrine in this central Punjab district on Sunday.

    The bombers struck outside the shrine of the 13th century Sufi saint Ahmed Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar.

    Thousands of devotees had gathered for the annual urs celebrations at the shrine, sited some 40 kilometres away from Dera Ghazi Khan city, when the attacks took place.

    “We have recovered 44 bodies so far,” said local police officer Zahid Hussain Shah, adding that more than 100 were wounded. “Both were suicide attackers, they came on foot and blew themselves up when police on duty stopped them.”

    Many of those wounded in the attacks were in a serious condition, he said.

    “It was around 5pm. Devotees were performing devotional dance at the main entrance to the shrine when a teenager detonated the explosives strapped to his body,” an eyewitness told the Daily Express. “Around 15 minutes later another suicide bomber struck at the staircase of the shrine,” he said. “Bodies were scattered all over and the injured people were crying for help,” added another witness.

    Regional Police Officer (RPO) Ahmed Mubarak confirmed that two suicide bombers tried to enter the shrine but failed and blew themselves up.

    Police officer Shah claimed that they have arrested a third suspected suicide bomber, identified as Fida Hussain, a 15- to 16-year-old Afghan refugee from the tribal belt.

    According to eyewitnesses, after the bombings, devotees were running in panic. The bomber ran into an elderly woman devotee and a hand grenade dropped from his hand. The woman raised alarm and some policeman standing nearby opened fire on him.

    Police said the bomber was injured and could not detonate his suicide vest. Later, police arrested him and defused his suicide jacket.

    Police also recovered the severed head of one of the numbers and also found a school card nearby. The card identifies the bomber as Abdullah, son of Noorullah, resident of Mirali in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

    The injured were ferried to different hospitals in Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan where a state of emergency was declared.

    Dera Ghazi Khan’s commissioner confirmed the casualties saying that the death toll could rise as some of the injured are in a critical condition.

    A police official, requesting anonymity, said the shrine had received threats from unidentified militants.

    Shrines of Sufi saints, who follow the mystical dimension of Islam, have increasingly been the target of bloody attacks by militants in the country.

    No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but extremists, including the Taliban, are vehemently opposed to the Sufi strand of Islam and consider their shrines to be idolatrous.

    Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani condemned the blasts, saying that “such cowardly acts of terror clearly demonstrate that the culprits involved neither have any faith nor any belief in human values”.

    “Such violent acts only seem to be conspiracy to divide the society and create fear,” said a statement issued by the prime minister’s office.

    He directed the law-enforcement agencies to investigate the incident and apprehend the terrorists.

  10. SARGODHA: Three men allegedly involved in the 2010 Data Darbar terrorist attack in Lahore were arrested from Sargodha, Express News reported on Sunday.

    On July 1, 2010, at least 42 people were killed and 175 were injured when three blasts hit Data Darbar. The blasts tore through the shrine complex when scores of people were offering prayers in the Data Darbar, which sits in one of the city’s most crowded neighbourhoods.

    One explosion took place in the courtyard of the shrine, one at gate number five and a third in the basement.

    Countrywide protests followed the attacks, with people from all walks of life condemning the killing.

  11. 8 Killed in Attack on Sufi Gathering

    KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen threw grenades at a Sufi Islamic religious gathering on Sunday in the port city of Karachi and then opened fire on the people assembled to offer prayers, killing eight, officials said.

    Eight others were wounded in the attack, said Aftab Chanur, an official at a hospital where the injured were taken.

    The four gunmen, who were on motorcycles, first lobbed grenades at a building where a Sufi cleric was receiving his followers, then raked it with automatic fire, said Javed Odho, a police official.

    He said women and children were among the dead and wounded.

    Pakistan is 95 percent Muslim, and the majority are Sunnis.

    Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam. But Sufi shrines and followers have come under attack from Sunni militants who do not consider them to be true Muslims.

    No one claimed responsibility for the attack. But suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban or their affiliated sectarian groups, which follow a strict interpretation of Islam that considers many other Muslims, like Sufis or minority Shiites, to be heretics.

    In recent years, militants have often attacked shrines, which they consider to be sacrilegious.

    In January, militants killed six people at the shrine of a Sufi saint in Karachi. After that attack, militants threatened the cleric whose gathering was attacked Sunday, telling him he should close down the house of worship where he receives his followers, Mr. Odho said.

    Karachi is a fast-growing city in southern Pakistan with an estimated 18 million residents. It has often been plagued by political, religious and sectarian violence.

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