Should we not condemn Sunni genocide taking place in Pakistan?

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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.



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