Wall of silence on anti-Shia violence in Pakistan – by Abbas Nasir

Source: Adapted and edited from Dawn

WE have made this Islamic Republic such a heaven on earth that we struggle to find words, often fight over these, to describe what its proud sons are capable of.

Just two days ago, someone asked on Twitter why our Fourth Estate calls bloody attacks on the Shia-Hazaras in Quetta ‘sectarian violence’. “Isn’t it Shia genocide?” I dived into various dictionaries but couldn’t come up with a definitive answer.

Butchery, slaughter, carnage, mass murder and of course genocide have been variously used to describe such bloodlust as is being evidenced in (not just) the Balochistan capital. Your vocabulary is as good as mine.

But will finding the correct word, using the most appropriate, accurate terminology alter the bloody ground reality or render it any clearer? Not really. Then, aren’t there even more significant questions to be asked?

Such as what drives our propensity to hate so much that even a name arouses the vilest of passions. How vile? Well, vile enough for us to kill. Didn’t you hear the ‘motive’ for the killing of a KESC official in Karachi, was said to be his Shia-sounding name though in fact he wasn’t.

How did we get here? Don’t you wish you knew? All we can see is when a state thinks nothing of using an indoctrinated non-state cast for its ‘strategic objectives’ it is but a small step for some of these villainous actors to start pursuing their own ideological agenda, no matter how toxic.

And what do we do? We prioritise. In Balochistan, our first priority is to tackle those who are ‘threatening the integrity of the state at the behest of their foreign masters’. These ‘misguided’ militants can be dealt with later if at all, even brought back on the rails as they are patriotic.

We are defending the country against external threats. All else must be secondary. One day the citadel of Islam will become that for certain. What’s the worry if for now it resembles no more than a slaughterhouse soaked in the blood of its innocent sons and daughters?

When you see the daily relentless slaughter of the Shia-Hazaras in Quetta (frankly, it’s pointless to keep count when you know it’ll need to be updated every 24 hours if not sooner) and similar hatred at work elsewhere from Chilas to Karachi, what do you do?

Well, many Shia-Hazaras say the electronic media, in particular, prefers to shut its eyes or just look away rather than acknowledge the horror. Perhaps they are right. Religious fanaticism that drives people to mass murder isn’t half as sexy as politicians tearing each other limb from limb on live telly.

Everyone is stepping over each other to please the latest centre of power in the country, the esteemed black-robed judges. The military and its intelligence apparatus continue to sell with, dare I say, consummate ease its national security threat perspective to journalists.

It may itself be under siege but even a government that has failed at almost everything except delivering on a hearty legislative agenda still has enough ideological support or the means to buy a voice or two that counts in its favour.

But who’ll march for the Shia-Hazaras, they ask. They have little hope in a decadent government whose chief executive is either so disinterested or feels so powerless that his detractors now count the number of days he is able to spend in the province he represents each month.

He prefers the handlebars of his Harley Davidson to ride around the federal capital and entertain himself rather than demonstrate the steel required to steer his troubled, torn province to safety as he was elected to do. Sincere apologies if such reports are mere propaganda.

What isn’t propaganda is that (given the size of the community) a disproportionately large number of Shia-Hazaras have been killed in and around Quetta. This happened not as they planned or executed acts of aggression against anyone. Their crime: being easily identifiable as Shia-Hazaras.

You haven’t heard many Hazara voices, have you?

While there are several in Pakistani media and social media who want to misrepresent Shia genocide in ethnic (Hazara vs Baloch/Pashtun) or sectarian (Sunni vs Shia) terms, the following Shia Hazara activists on Twitter provide credible news and views from Quetta and wider Balochistan:

@AliAMuntaziri @Darveshh @AnwarChangezi @WorldShiaForum @karbalaequetta

It’s interesting to note that in his recent statement, Imran Khan condemned violence against Hazara community and did not once refer to their Shia identity and the larger Shia genocide taking places at the hands of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (aka Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan or Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat). May I ask: Is LeJ an ethnic group?

Perhaps Imran Khan may wish to refer to this recent statement by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) which clearly acknowledges that Shias including Shia Hazaras are being killed due to their religious belief (Shia sect). The HRCP statement also points towards the alleges complicity between LeJ-ASWJ and security agencies.

Last but not the least, both Hazara and non-Hazara Shias are being killed by LeJ-ASWJ militants in Quetta. As noted by Anwar Changezi (Shia Hazara activist on Twitter):

Over 150 non-Hazara Shias have been killed in Quetta. The 5 people killed earlier in the month were not Hazara. Shias are being killed. According to population ratio, more non-Hazara Shias have been killed. 500+ Hazaras out of 500,000. But 150+ non-Hazara of few thousand. Identity and motive both are important. Even if Hazaras are being killed, the reason is their faith. Sunni Hazaras also live in Quetta, never targeted. We shouldn’t fall prey to false narratives of a few with certain political agenda. Out of 700 people, 1 HDP leader was killed for reason other than ‘religion’. He went against his masters in ISI on 1 issue & was killed. No HDP people so-called nationalists have been killed in Quetta. In Quetta only Shias are being killed. All religious people. I challenge anyone to investigate this and slap it on face of HDP & its supporters who want to misrepresent Shia genocide. While we remember Shia Hazaras killed by LeJ-ASWJ and their mentors, it is equally important to pay respect to non-Hazara Shias killed in Quetta. Here’s an incomplete list: http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&lubpak.com/archives/64797



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