Anti-Shia violence in Balochistan is getting uglier by the day – by Malik Siraj Akbar

LeJ-ASWJ attackers killed at least 14 Shias and also desecrated the Quran.

Related post: 20 Shias killed in Quetta again. Reason? Already stated; being Shias!

LUBP Editor’s note: The following post is adapted from a recent editorial by Malik Siraj Akbar in The Baloch Hal. The minor editing in this excellent article reflects LUBP’s considered opinion that Pakistan army-sponsored Shia genocide at the hands of Jihadist Doebandi outfits must not be misrepresented as sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias. The editing also reflects our view that attacks on Shias including Shia Hazaras in Balochistan must not be seen in isolation from attacks on Shia Muslims in other parts of the country, from Karachi to Parachinar and from Gilgit Baltistan to D.I.Khan. (End note)

Another Tragedy in Hazar Ganji (Editorial – The Baloch Hal)

The Shia genocide in Balochistan is getting uglier by the day as State-sponsored Jihadi-sectarian militants (mostly Deobandi Jihadis operating in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi LeJ aka Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ) continue to devise new strategies every day to target members of the Shia community. Despite religious motivations, these attacks frequently lead to attacks on Hazara ethnic community. Thus, one should not mince words in describing this phenomenon as a blatant religious and ethnic cleansing. However, both Hazara and non-Hazara Shias in Balochistan are being killed by ISI-sponsored Jihadi-sectarian groups. The tragic killing of another 13 innocent Shia pilgrims on Thursday (28 June 2012) in Hazar Ganji once again increases the fears of the Shia community and calls into question the government’s commitment to protect the people’s lives.

The attack on a bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Iran in Quetta took place just ten days after another gruesome episode in which a university bus was targeted in Jinnah Town (Quetta), killing at least five young students (four of them were Shia). The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an underground Deobandi-sectarian militant group (currently operating in Pakistan as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ or Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan SSP) known for its connections with Pakistan’s security establishment, accepted responsibility for the attacks. There is little doubt that Thursday’s tragedy was also masterminded by the LeJ-ASWJ because it had clearly warned of more attacks. The LeJ-ASWJ has adopted a new strategy of mass murder in the recent times by brutally targeting buses carrying pilgrims or even students. The motivation behind such actions is to cause panic and fear among the Shias, Hazaras so that they are confined to their homes. In other words, the LeJ-ASWJ seems to be working on a policy of ”kill them wherever you see them”.

The government’s continued failure to address the issue of Shia genocide is heartbreaking. There are deeper issues involved in violence that is employed in the name of religion. There is a reason why we do not see hope at the end of the tunnel. The government and our society are unlikely to stand united to defeat the menace of terrorism. The government and public seem to have given in to religious fanatics. We have seen too little expression of official or public outrage over these killings. Why do we not see mass public protests against suicide bombers or the LeJ-ASWJ? Because our society still refuses to categorize them as ‘bad guys’. There seems to be some sympathy at the top official level for those who commit violence.

The Shia community, including Shia Hazara community in Quetta, have suffered enormously in the hands of religious fanatics. The victim communities truly deserve better treatment both from the government and neighboring communities in Balochistan.

The incidents of Shia genocide and other similar attacks cause a general breakdown of law and order in Balochistan giving the authorities an excuse to divert attention from the ongoing Baloch nationalist movement. This also enables to the security forces to conduct fake search operations in Baloch communities to arrest innocent youths in order to increase problems for the Balochs. By and large, this situation benefits the Taliban and their proxies in the future. Thirdly, an increase in anti-Shia violence makes unemployed Baloch youths very vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups. The participation of Baloch youths in extremist movements drastically damages the Baloch interests. Allegedly, agencies have been able to recruit a few sectarian-minded Balochs in the Jihadi-sectarian outfits in order to give a sectarian and ethnic colour to the ongoing Baloch vs army conflict in Balochistan.

We once again call upon Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani to come forward before the Balochistan Assembly and the media to spell out his government’s policy on sectarian killings of Shias. [It is rumoured that the largest Jihadi-Deobandi madrassa in Balochistan exists in his local constituency in Mastung, and that quite a few attacks on Shias are linked with Jihadi Deobandis in his constituency.] The Shia, including Shia Hazara community and non Hazara Shias, must not be fooled every time with mere statements of condemnation and void assurances of arresting the culprits. It is the time for genuine action. The Shia community has had enough and this must stop immediately. We do not endorse the government’s policy of dealing with the Baloch nationalists but what is comforting is the fact that the government at least does have a Baloch policy.

On the other hand, there is no official policy until now on how to protect the Shia, Hazara community in Balochistan.The government has not been able to hunt down the top leadership of LeJ-ASWJ. Even if some leaders are detained (which is very rare), they are not convicted in the courts because of [alleged] lack of evidence. [In several instances, agencies broke prisons to secure release of their Jihadi assets. Judges too have received threats by Jihadi-sectarian killers arrested by the police.]

It is almost impossible to rule out the possibility of official complicity in anti-Shia violence and bomb blasts given the widespread deployment of the Frontier Corps (FC) across Balochistan. The antidote to the current situation is unity among the people of Balochistan to fight a common enemy that is bent upon making the province a heaven for religious fanatics. There should be no room for religious fanatics in Balochistan as it is a land where persecution of people based on religion is what we desire the least.



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