Editor’s Note: The following debate took place on a facebook forum that highlights the nature and reasons of Shia genocide in Pakistan. The conversation was initiated by a repetition of oft-repeated theories that are deeply insensitive to the victims in this case who happen to be Shia Muslims in Pakistan. We encourage all readers to read the entire conversation and arrive at their own conclusion. However, we are disappointed to note that such conversations are not the exception but sadly the norm amongst Pakistan’s educated elite which wants to justify and rationalize Shia genocide while discounting its own sectarian prejudice against Shias, Pakistan’s most target killed faith group, with more than 19,000 deaths in last few decades. Only recently, an international survey report by Pew stated that only 50% of Sunnis in Pakistan consider Shias as Muslims. This also explains why there is either complete silence or massive misrepresentation of incidents of Shia genocide in Pakistan. The latest incident of misrepresentation is not by daily Ummat or Zare Momin but by “liberal” Express Tribune which mischievously reported Shia massacre of Gilgiti passengers in Naran as Sunni massacre. The news item was later corrected after massive protest on Twitter. There is an unfortunate tendency to dilute the suffering of those who are on the wrong side of the policies dictated by the military establishment. It is time that Pakistan’s rights activists and persecuted communities realize that civil society is not necessarily objective when it comes to Shia Genocide but in fact peddles the manufactured discourses of the State.
The following conversation is a classical example of the deflective and obfuscating tactics of Pakistan’s educated civil society elite.
C-1 : This ongoing persecution of the various Shia sects in Pakistan and elsewhere is indeed tragic. What is not being said often enough, however, is that this slaughter, which isn’t quite genocide yet, is a manifestation of the proxy war being fought there between the Arabs and the Iranians. This war has been ongoing ever since the Arab Imperialists of the 7th century invaded Persia and forcibly converted the Persians to Islam. The Persians never liked the ensuing cultural subjugation and have forever been looking to undermine the Arabs ever since.
And paying the price for this war are the Shia in Pakistan who, through their emotional and, increasingly, cultural attachment to Iran, are being targeted as if they were the undeclared proxies of Iran. And those that are targeting them are largely on the employ of Saudi Arabia. Of course the Iranians are not entirely blameless in all this. In fact, historically, in the context of South Asia, Iranians (read nader Shah) and their surrogates (read Ahmad Shah Abdali), have massacred more Sunnis in Delhi than the rest of the various war-mongering Central Asians put together. What any of this has to do with the price of tea in China can perhaps be expanded upon by the literati in this group. My sense is that memories of such atrocities linger and beget badness.
The point, you ask? Whenever the violence raining down upon the hapless Shias of Pakistan is spoken of, mention also needs to be made of Saudi bloody Arabia and the SOB mullahs of Iran without whose unholy machinations none of this would be happening. And Pakistan’s Shia President also needs to be held accountable for the madness being perpetrated under his watch.
C-2 : This is kind of blaming the victim. It’s the Shia’s fault for either being “hapless”, “massacred more Sunnis in Delhi than the rest of the various war-mongering Central Asians put together” or their “cultural attachment to Iran”. If you think it’s the Shia’s own fault why bother protecting them? By the way there’s genetic evidence that there’s more of the Middle East haliotrop in the Shia population of South Asia then in other populations. Doesn’t that kind of blow great big hole in the whole Arab imperialism stuff – how did the persecuted minority end up being the one with the ME genes.
C-3: This is full of essentialist assumptions that can never really get us anywhere, “Arabs”, “Persians”, as if these were absolutes with no space for nuance or deep cultural interaction across historical time; likewise it’s full if emotive anachronisms, “Arab imperialists”, as if transposing C19th and C20th European imperialism back to C7th-C8th Persia had any relevance at all. Vile drivel. No, it’s about much more than all that; it’s about what happens when one takes a stand for the truth in the face of the forces of this world, har zamaan ‘ashoora, ve har makaan karbela’ ast….
C-1: ”har zamaan ‘ashoora, ve har makaan karbela’ ast….” Indeed! The very fact that the Persians have taken ownership of Husain’s Alamo goes to the point I was making. I rest my case. C-3,commentary restricted to three paragraphs isn’t meant to accentuate “nuances”. Once the basic framework is laid out you can nuance till the cows come home. The basic framework won’t change.
C-4: If it was the manifestation of an Arab-Iran war, it would logically have been a two-way affair in Pakistan rather than one way Shia Genocide.
C-1: Yes C-4, A 2-way war. 18% of the population taking on 80%. That’ll go really well. I would love to hear a better theory for why the Shias are getting slaughtered in Pakistan.
C-5: Judges must be looking for rebuttals so that can let a vicious criminal walk away exonerated free from the charge with a grin on his wicked face i don’t! cuz that won’t make the criminal innocent in reality. the problem with the world is the we wanna sort every thing out with arguments. i have learnt something from nature that a few things are to be accepted than objected. and there’s nothing not open to objections. that doesn’t mean that everythings wrong. and theres nothing indefensible either that doesn’t mean that its right.
If it is only a vicarious iranian arab war fought on pakistan’s territory than why do we witness shia genocide within arab community itself? and why are there iranian sunnis complaining about iranian gov.? hasn’t it to do more with minority majority thing? hasn’t it to do with that shia’s aren’t exceptional in this course? and isn’t it a universal phenomenon? happened to jews before us? isn’t it survival of the fittest? big fish eats small? or is it truly a religious long pending unresolved issue? what ever the reason history or game it may be all we know is that shias happen to be at the worst side in this wager. i’d love to read your views cuz you guys are really in the know.
C-1: C-5, you do indeed have a point. What solutions are you offering?
C-6: C-5, your unique and irrationally biased logic is like putting salt on the wound.The reason and motivation for Shia genocide is within the Pakistani Sunny terrorist psyche and vast majority of people are mute spectator of all such brutalities.Judiciary and security agencies have tacit support to those killers.All heinous terrorists have been let off by judiciary perhaps with the support of security agencies who are responsible for investigation and collect authentic evidence.
C-5: Sir C-1, which point are we talking about because i have made a whole diversity of possibilities there. ‘SOLUTIONS’? … sounds daunting for a petty being like me. lets ask those who claim to be in the know, who claim to have read the history from top to bottom. what a person who is skeptical about the causes know about solutions. Sir C-6, sorry i don’t really know what you mean by ‘irrationally biased logic’.
C-7: C-1, your note has certain glaring inconsistencies. Ahmed Shah Abali is actually held responsible for his anti-Shia pogroms in Kashmir which before his raids and conquests into India, had a Shia-Hindu flavour. Similarly, both Nader Shah and Abdali did not base their attacks and raids into the Indian Sub-Continent due to their Shia “leanings”. Quite the opposite. Refer to the virulent anti-Shia polemics of Shah Abdul Aziz/Shah Waliullah during the 18-19th century. Abdali’s anti-Shia pogroms in Kashmir contradict your simplistic view of history. The Persian influence in India did not seek to dominate; rather it sought to syncretize itself with the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the sub-continent. It extended to pre-Safavid times. Similarly, there is a strong Shia sentiment in varous Arab countries including Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria with smaller minorities in Egypt and Jordan. It is a false binary to conflate anti-Shiaism as a Saudi-Iranian proxy battle. Post 1980, the Shia clerics do look towards Iran – a flawed strategy. In this regard, many of them have been pushed into it while some seek favour for their own benefits. This is an unfortunate development and will only harm Pakistan’s Shias, IMO. Furthermore, historical Sindh included much of what is Southern Punjab today. In this area, Shia sentiment is nearly a thousands years older than the Safavid era in Persia. For Sindhis, Mohammad bin Qasim was a marauder who was sent by Hajjaj bin Yousuf to kill the (Arab) descendants and partisans of the Holy Prophet’s family who had been provided refuge and protection by Raja Dahir of the Chach dynasty. Iraq, which has a Shia majority, has been this way since the time of Imam Ali ibne Abi Talib. Today, from Indonesia, Malaysia to Nigeria and even in Belgium, Shias are being targetted by fellow muslims.
C-1: C-7, why don’t you finish your polemic and I’ll then happily tell you what the shortcomings of your assessment are. Or you could just tell me why in your opinion the Shia are being slaughtered in Pakistan.
C-2: Calling C-7 out for “shortcomings” in the light of the quality of the initial comment by C-1 is a wonderful case of the pot questioning the colour credentials of the kettle.
C-9: In fact, the massacre at Karbala was also because of the Ahlul Bayt’s association with the Iranians/Persians. All Shiite Imams were killed due to same association, the sinister Iranian connection. False neutrality at its best (or worst)!
C-7: C-1 I will make it very simple. Shias are, for the overwhelming part, being killed in Pakistan because our civil-military bureaucracy dominated State supports/funds/protects/patronizes Non-State actors for its “strategic” objectives both within and outside of Pakistan. And it is not just Shias who are their victims but Ahmadiyya muslims, Sunnis (Barelvis, moderate Deobandis), Christains, Sikhs : All these groups are suffering at the hands of the non-State actors. This is not a revelation and please refer to the excellent Peshawar Declaration of 2010 which details a similar hypothesis. Ali Basti (Golimar, Karachi) was attacked in 1978 by IJT-JI facists nearly two years before Iranian Revolution. Since atleast 1949, the Pakistani State has been acceeding space to Islamofascists and during the 1950s (anti-Ahmadi pogroms) and 1960′s, the Jamaati-e-Islami fascists were an auxilllary of the State culminating in the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh where JI collaborated with the West Pakistan army against its own people. I was simply pointing out the flaw in your initial comment where you presented the anti-Shia pogroms in Kashmir and the rape and plunder of India by Abdali as some sort of a Persian (read Shia) action on Sunnis. I don’t understand this obsession with misrepresenting the violent actions of State-backed element as an Iran-Saudi proxy war.
C-5: ^ equally condemned! and condemned equally for all human races across the globe, jews Christains Sunni Shias Hindus even animals. but comparing christian genocide with jews’ holocaust or sunnis’ with shias’ not only in pakistan but elsewhere is an evident sign of an ignobly ignoramus individual on a gigantic scale.
C-9: C-5, You missed the entire point. Both Sunnis and Shias in Pakistan are being killed by State-sponsored ASWJ-LeJ terrorists.A SWJ-LeJ terrorists represent their sponsors, not Sunnis. This is not Sunni vs Shia sectarian violence as is being presented by some people in this thread.
C-1: Many wishy-washy attempts here at explaining the madness in Pakistan. Not one that explains why so many on this forum believe the Shia are being singled out for slaughter in Pakistan. ”And it is not just Shias who are their victims but Ahmadiyya muslims, Sunnis (Barelvis, moderate Deobandis), Christains, Sikhs : All these groups are suffering at the hands of the non-State actors.” True statement. So why only bemoan the Shia “genocide”? And don’t look now but the state-actors are just as complicit in these murders. And the president of the state is a Shia.
C-5: One thing as I infer it is that ….at the outset the Utopian Islamic state of Pakistan was being founded in the hope of emancipation of muslims of india. (like Moses) Mohammad Ali Jinnah (shia), and subsequently the constitution draftsman bhutto (shia); EITHER
i) had forgotten the true trait of muslims throughout of how they treated the family of Mohammad (which is of course implausible) OR
ii) deliberately overlooked the subsequent genocide of their followers later.
The only reason i can think of for DELIBERATELY is the HOPE of brushing off the old mess of tussles and conflicts aside and beginning a new muslim state that could virtually be a Utopian Islamic state. (turned dystopian unfortunately which these twos happened to be the first victims themselves). However worked well at the outset until the opposite forces realized that ‘yalla habibi this is no good another shia state is coming thru hard!’ and decided to step in with their petro-dollars. All the way thru, remarkable historical events like islamic world bank took place which was quite annoying to the opposite forces and they couldn’t see all this prosperity happening under a shia supervised state and got paranoid. Then throughout and today saudis and other contra-forces have been waging the war against shiism just on the account of fact that they can’t stand a second Shia state (state Bahrain Pakistan Kuwait Palastine you name it) to come into existence. Later on to square the deal Iran had to step in as a sectarian guardian or a big brother for her ppl. And hence the war continues… there’s more! and hey this all sounds good to west cuz the missiles manufacturing company’s ceo need to run their companies dont’ they? well the Bottom line is that Iranian/Arab war is not the cause but is the freaking upshot of ali’s hatred in c7th! simple as that! And remember this on going war is gonna get worst as Iranian government loses control of their hardwired racist secular citizen and falls apart. cheers!
C-7: C-1, Your insensitive and personal choice of words “polemics, wishy-washy” mar whatever little merit that is in your comments. ”True statement. So why only bemoan the Shia “genocide”? And don’t look now but the state-actors are just as complicit in these murders. And the president of the state is a Shia.
C-9: C-7,Clearly, this man (C-1) has no explanation of the massacre of Sunni Barelvis and moderate Deobandis at the hands of ISI-sponsored ASWJ-LeJ terrorists. In peddling the ISI’s manufactured false binary (Saudi vs Iran), he lost the plot. Some common fallacies often shared by Taliban apologists and (fake) liberals.
C-7: C-1, Your insensitive and personal choice of words “polemics, wishy-washy” mar whatever little merit that is in your comments. ”True statement. So why only bemoan the Shia “genocide”? And don’t look now but the state-actors are just as complicit in these murders. And the president of the state is a Shia.”Who on this group is denying the atrocities against other faith groups; by the same non-State actors who are committing Shia Genocide?? Strawmanning is a pathetic tactic to deflect attention away from a flawed analysis.
Furthermore, it is the repeated airing of the trite, simplistic, misdirected, reductionist theory of the “Saudi-Iran proxy war” that takes attention away from the role of the State actors. On the contrary, it is the military establishment that continues to support these State actors, the Judiciary that goes out of its way to release brazen mass killing Jihadists and the media that gives them both airtime and legitimacy (Ludhianvi, Aamir Liaquat, Farid Paracha, Orya Maqbool Jan, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi) and also goes out of its way to give airtime to Taliban apologists like Hamid Gul and Imran Khan! Those who want to deny the role of these State actors are the same ones who keep hammering away their insensitive and deeply flawed thesis of “Saudi-Iran proxy wars” to dilute the sufferings of ALL those who are being killed by the Non-State actors.
If Shias are being killed by Sipah-e-Sahaba/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi bcos they are somehow all Iranian fifth columnists, then what about the Ahmadis who are being killed by the same SSP/LeJ murderers?
Is the killing of Ahmadis part of a Timbuktu-Brazil proxy war in Pakistan? Or are the pogroms against the Sikhs in Pakistan by the Taliban due to a proxy conflict between Real Madrid and Barcelona??
As for the President being a Shia, what is your point?? Jinnah was a Shia as are 20% of Pakistan’s population. If you think that this President or any other legitimately elected leader can overnight end this “Strategic Depth” policy, you are not only living in cloud cuckoo land, you are also being willfully obtuse.
Source: Wolrd Shia Forum
Watch this video after 6:20, will give you an idea how a Deonbandi cleric Maulana Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi uses the false Iran-Saudi proxy war binary to justify Shia genoicde:
Ashrafi was one of the first people to meet and greet LeJ chief Malik Ishaq after release.
Also this wall chalking in which a worker of Takfiri Deobandi group Sipah Sahaba stereotypes Shias as Khomeinites