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Saturday, February 17, 2024

When will the criminal silence of the state over Shia killings end?

Saad Rasool |

On Thursday, last week, 24 innocent Shias were killed, and more than 100 others got injured, as a car bomb ripped through an Imambargah in Parachinar. Jamat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for this attack. This blast, though, is not the only one of its kind. Earlier in the year, on January 21st, more than 20 Shias were killed in a bomb blast in Parachinar.

Systematic Killings of Shia Community

According to official statistics, since 2001, more than 5,000 Shias have been targeted and killed in Pakistan.

Violence against Shia citizens of our country manifested itself in Parachinar, but extends far beyond the idea of lawlessness. The suicide attack at Sehwan Sharif in February, last year’s attack at Noorani Shah, and the ones in Shikarpur and Quetta, all reflect a systematic killing of Shias across Pakistan. These attacks are being carried out by organizations and individuals who continue to slip through the porous grasp of our law enforcement agencies. According to official statistics, since 2001, more than 5,000 Shias have been targeted and killed in Pakistan, and no counteraction have been taken.

The massacre of Shias in Parachinar, much like all the other killings of innocent Shias before, is likely to stay in our minds for no more than a couple of days. The majority of our nation and its political elite will feign concern over the Parachinar tragedy up until the next press conference by some two-bit politician, defending Panama Leaks, captures our attention. And just like that, the victims of Parachinar and the plight of Pakistan’s Shia community will fade into the criminal recesses of an impotent society.

Read more: RAW & NDS outsource terrorism: set prices to kill Pakistanis?

Unresponded Key Questions

Why is Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, even after the Quetta Commission Report, still the Interior Minister of Pakistan?

Why is the killing of innocent civilians – who happen to be from Shia community – no longer a soul-wrenching episode in Pakistan? More pertinently, why is the killing of Shia – and other religious minorities – a mere inconvenience for our policy, deserving no more than a token statement of meaningless condemnation? Why is our political, military, and judicial leadership mute on the systematic elimination of anyone who beats his chest to the call of ‘Ya Hussain (A.S)!’?

Why is it that despite the killing of Malik Ishaq, our counter-terrorism efforts have never expanded to specifically focus on organizations such as SSP, LeJ, and ASWJ? Why is it that Maulana Ludhianivi, the leader of these banned outfits, continues to find space within our corridors of power? Why are militant leaders, who openly propagate the killings of Shias, allowed to actively participate in the public and national discourse? Why does ‘Kafir Kafir, Shia Kafir!’ continue to be graffitied across our urban and rural centers?

Why have the madaris and organizations that actively incite hatred against Shias, been bestowed with state land in Karachi? Why are leaders of such organizations given political protection in Punjab? Why is their evil dominion tolerated in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad? Why is Rana Sana Ullah, an active supporter of militant Sunni organizations, still the Law Minister of the Punjab? Why is Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, even after the Quetta Commission Report, still the Interior Minister of Pakistan?

Criminal Silence of State Institutions

Despite thousands of innocent deaths, there has never been any action, suo moto or otherwise, by the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the killing of Shias.

Despite these frequent attacks on the Shia community, the government of Pakistan has not taken any significant action. The Supreme Court of Pakistan is silent. One can assume that the State of Pakistan does not care about the lives or security of Shias. While the Shia community continues to get killed, the government can only reiterate a few hollow words of condolences.

As coffins lay on the streets of Quetta and Parachinar, no judicial or political conscience was jolted into action. No sustainable military action was specifically initiated against Sunni militant outfits. And the few dozen powerless individuals, who had the moral integrity to hold a candlelight vigil at Liberty roundabout, were soon made to disperse under the threat of a militant attack.

Implicit Bias Against Shias in Pakistan

A careful look at our national paradigm would reveal that Shias are not welcomed in the stratosphere of the state’s power. Despite almost 20% of Pakistan’s population being Shia, a far smaller fraction finds itself in the national and provincial legislatures. Even lesser are inducted into the Cabinet. Fewer still form a part of the bureaucratic and Khaki top-brass. And hardly anyone is ever elevated to the honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan.

It is as though there is an implicit bias against Shias being inducted within our corridors of power. If for no other reason, then simply to ensure that our powers of status quo do not have to tend to their voice. And the few Shias who, from time to time, have made their mark in the fields of medicine, academia, or law, have (for the most part) been targeted through a systematic effort to eliminate their influence in our society.

Read more: Should political leaders of Pakistan be called terrorists? Constitutional lawyer questions…

Hub-e-Ali (A.S) Will Never End

The love of Ahl-e-Bayt (A.S) will remain (according to Hadith) the eternal key for hereafter.

If we were to pause for a moment and ask ourselves why the Shias are being massacred in our land, there would be no answer forthcoming. We would realize that there is no event in our national or Islamic history that justifies hatred towards those who believe in the infallibility of the Prophet (S.A.W) and his progeny (A.S). In fact, even a cursory reading of history or religion would make it painfully clear that, over the past thirteen hundred years, Hub-e-Ali (A.S), even when it was silently professed, was met with violence and militancy. And, in the present day and age, this militancy is at its fiercest in Pakistan.

Here is the truth: even if all the Shias, across the world, were to be shot, at a point-blank range, Hussain Ibn-e-Ali (A.S) would be the Haq and Yazid would be the Baatil. Even if Hub-e-Ali (A.S) were to be declared a crime (nay, a sin!), in every jurisdiction across the world, the love of Ahl-e-Bayt (A.S) will remain (according to Hadith) the eternal key for hereafter. Even if all the Shias were to drop dead, this very moment, Imam Mahdi (A.S), the last surviving son of Ali Ibn-e-Abu Talib (A.S), will usher in the final reckoning.

When that happens, as it must, those who killed Shias, those who supported this barbarity, those who remained silent, and those who looked the other way, will be made to answer. And there, before the Seat of Eternal Power, our worldly excuses will find no favor.

Saad Rasool is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. This article was first published in The Nation and is republished with the permission of the author. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.