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HRW Statement: Shia killings by extremist groups allied with the military escalate in Pakistan


Highlights of the HRW statement

– Pakistan Government and Security Forces have failed to protect Shia Muslim minority.

– In 2012, at least 320 members of the Shia population have been killed in targeted attacks. Over 100 have been killed in Balochistan province, the majority from the Hazara community.

– The government’s persistent failure to apprehend attackers or prosecute the extremist groups organizing the attacks suggests that it is indifferent to this carnage.

– The arrest of Malik Ishaq is an important test for Pakistan’s criminal justice system.

– Government cannot play role of unconcerned bystander as the Shia across Pakistan are slaughtered.

– Attacks targeting the Shia population have taken place repeatedly over the last year in Balochistan, the port city of Karachi, predominantly Shia populated areas of Gilgit Baltistan in the northern areas, and in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

– Sunni (Deobandi) militant groups such as the ostensibly banned Lashkar-e Jhangvi have operated with widespread impunity across Pakistan while law enforcement officials have effectively turned a blind eye on attacks against Shia communities.

– Some Sunni (Deobandi) extremist groups are known to be allies of the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies, and affiliated paramilitaries, such as the Frontier Corps.

– The government should also actively investigate allegations of collusion between Sunni (Deobandi) militant groups and military intelligence and paramilitary forces and hold accountable personnel found to be involved in criminal acts.

– HRW report misidentifies Takfiri Deobandi-Salafi extremist groups as Sunni extremist groups. However, it is a fact that the majority of peaceful Sunnis, particularly Sunni Barelvis and moderate Deobandis, do not consider the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (aka Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) as representative of Sunni Muslims. Shia killings in Pakistan is a case of Takfiri terrorism by Deobandi extremists (against Shias and moderate Sunnis), not Sunni vs Shia sectarianism.

Pakistan: Shia Killings Escalate
Government and Security Forces Fail to Protect Muslim Minority

(New York) – The Pakistani government should urgently act to protect the minority Shia Muslim community in Pakistan from sectarian attacks by Sunni (Deobandi) militant groups, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should hold accountable those responsible for ordering and participating in deadly attacks targeting Shia.

While sectarian violence is a longstanding problem in Pakistan, attacks against ordinary Shia have increased dramatically in recent years, Human Rights Watch said. In 2012, at least 320 members of the Shia population have been killed in targeted attacks. Over 100 have been killed in Balochistan province, the majority from the Hazara community.

“Deadly attacks on Shia communities across Pakistan are escalating,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s persistent failure to apprehend attackers or prosecute the extremist groups organizing the attacks suggests that it is indifferent to this carnage.”

In the most recent violence, in two separate attacks on September 1, 2012, gunmen attacked and killed eight Hazara Shia in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital. In the first attack, witnesses told Human Rights Watch that four armed men riding on two motorbikes shot dead five Hazaras at a bus stop in the Hazar Ganji area of the city. The victims, all vegetable sellers, were returning from the vegetable market. Within two hours of the attack, gunmen riding a motorbike attacked a nearby bus stop, killing two people from the Hazara community. An eighth victim, also a Hazara Shia, died in the hospital on September 2.

On August 30, gunmen riding a motorbike shot dead Zulfiqar Naqvi, a Shia judge, his driver,Essa Khan, and a police bodyguard, Abdul Shakoor, as Naqvi headed to work in Quetta.

On August 16, four buses passing through the Babusar Top area of Mansehra district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly the North-West Frontier Province) were ambushed by gunmen who made all the passengers disembark. The attackers checked the national identity cards of each passenger and summarily executed 22 passengers identified as belonging to the Shia community. A spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the killings.

Similar attacks targeting the Shia population have taken place repeatedly over the last year in Balochistan, the port city of Karachi, predominantly Shia populated areas of Gilgit Baltistan in the northern areas, and in Pakistan’s tribal areas, Human Rights Watch said.

Sunni (Deobandi) militant groups such as the ostensibly banned Lashkar-e Jhangvi have operated with widespread impunity across Pakistan while law enforcement officials have effectively turned a blind eye on attacks against Shia communities. Some Sunni (Deobandi) extremist groups are known to be allies of the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies, and affiliated paramilitaries, such as the Frontier Corps, Human Rights Watch said.

While authorities claim to have arrested dozens of suspects in attacks against Shia since 2008, only a handful have been charged, and no one has been held accountable for these attacks. The August 31 arrest of Malik Ishaq, the leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, in Lahore in a case filed against him for inciting violence against the Shia community on August 9 is an important development, coming after repeated failed attempts to bring him to justice, Human Rights Watch said. Despite being the accused in some 44 cases, involving the killing of some 70 people, mostly from the Shia community, Ishaq has previously been acquitted by Pakistani courts in 34 cases and granted bail in the other 10. The government recently detained him under provisions of the Maintenance of Public Order Act as it deemed him to be a threat to public security. A review board of the Lahore High Court ordered his release in January 2012 on the grounds that Ishaq’s continued detention was unjustified because he had been granted bail in all cases pending against him.

“The arrest of Malik Ishaq, who has been implicated in dozens of killings, is an important test for Pakistan’s criminal justice system,” Adams said. “Sectarian violence won’t end until those responsible are brought to trial and justice.”

Human Rights Watch urged Pakistan’s federal government and relevant provincial governments to make all possible efforts to promptly apprehend and prosecute those responsible for recent attacks and other crimes targeting the Shia population. The government should direct civilian agencies and the military responsible for security to actively protect those facing attack from extremist groups, and to address the growing perception, particularly in Balochistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas, that state authorities look the other way when Shia are attacked. It should increase the number of security personnel in Shia majority areas and enclaves at high risk of attack, particularly the Hazara community in Quetta. The government should also actively investigate allegations of collusion between Sunni militant groups and military intelligence and paramilitary forces and hold accountable personnel found to be involved in criminal acts.

“Pakistan’s government cannot play the role of unconcerned bystander as the Shia across Pakistan are slaughtered,” Adams said. “Pakistan’s political leaders, law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and military need to take this as seriously as they take other security threats to the state.” (Source: HRW)

Urdu version reported by BBC Urdu

انسانی حقوق کے لیے کام کرنے والی بین الاقوامی تنظیم ہیومن رائٹس واچ نے پاکستان میں بڑھتے ہوئے فرقہ وارانہ تشدد پرتشویش کا اظہار کرتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ رواں سال میں شعیہ فرقے سے تعلق رکھنے والے تین سو بیس افراد کو ہلاک کیا گیا۔

تنظیم کے مطابق صرف بلوچستان میں ہزارہ آبادی کے ایک سو افراد کو قتل کیا گیا۔

تنظیم کے ایشیا کے ڈائریکٹر بریڈ ایڈمس نے نیویارک سے جاری ایک بیان میں کہا ہے کہ پاکستانی حکومت کی جانب سے فرقہ وارانہ تشدد میں ملوث عناصر کو گرفتار کرنے میں ناکامی دراصل اس کا اس مسئلے پر کوئی خاص توجہ نہ دینا ہے۔

بیان کے مطابق گزشتہ سال کے دوران بلوچستان، کراچی، گلگت بلتستان اور ملک کے قبائلی علاقوں میں شعیہ آبادی کو نشانہ بنا کر کئی حملے کیے گئے۔

تنظیم کے مطابق اس سال تشدد کے کم از کم چار ایسے بڑے واقعات ہوئے جن میں شیعہ ہزارہ فرقے سے تعلق رکھنے والے اکتیس افراد کو نشانہ بنایا گیا۔ فرقہ وارانہ تشدد کے یہ واقعات کوئٹہ اور بابو سر میں پیش آئے۔ بابو سر واقعے کی ذمہ داری پاکستانی تحریک طالبان نے قبول کی تھی۔

بیان میں سنی دیوبندی تکفیری فرقے سے تعلق رکھنے والےعسکریت پسند گروپوں کے کردار پر تشویش کا اظہار کیا گیا ہے۔

ہیومن رائٹس واچ کے مطابق کالعدم تنظیم لشکر جھنگوی ملک میں بغیر کسی روک ٹوک کے آپریٹ کر رہی ہے اور قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں نے شعیہ فرقے کے خلاف ہونے والے تشدد کی طرف سے جیسے آنکھیں بند کر رکھیں ہیں۔

تنظیم کا یہ بھی کہنا ہے کہ کچھ سنی دیوبندی تکفیری انتہا پسند تنظیموں ( سپاہ صحابہ المعروف اہلسنت والجماعت ) کے پاکستان کی فوج، خفیہ اداروں اور فرنٹئیر کور سے تعلقات کوئی پوشیدہ بات نہیں ہے۔

ہیومن رائٹس واچ کے مطابق اگست میں لشکر جھنگوی کے سربراہ ملک اسحاق کی گرفتاری اس ضمن میں اہم پیش رفت ہے۔ ملک اسحاق کے خلاف فرقہ وارانہ تشدد کے چوالیس مقدمات قا ئم ہیں جن میں ستر افراد کا قتل شامل ہے۔

ڈائریکٹر بریڈ ایڈمس کا کہنا ہے کہ ملک اسحاق کی گرفتاری پاکستان کے قانونی نظام کے لیے ایک اہم امتحان کی حثیت رکھتا ہے ۔ انہوں نے کہا ’فرقہ وارانہ تشدد کا خاتمہ ان جرائم کے ذمہ داروں کے قانون کے دائرہ کار میں لاکر سزا دیے بغیر ممکن نہیں ہے۔ ‘

بریڈ ایڈمس کا یہ بھی کہنا ہے کہ حکومت پاکستان شعیہ فرقے کے قتل عام پر خاموش تماشائی کا کردار ادا نہیں کر سکتی۔

تنظیم نے پاکستان کی وفاقی و صوبائی حکومتوں پر شعیہ فرقے کے خلاف حملوں اور دوسرے جرائم میں ملوث افراد کو قانون کے دائرہ کار میں لانے کی ضرورت پر زور دیا۔

تنظیم نے اس بات پر بھی زور دیا کہ حکومت شعیہ آبادی والے علاقوں خاص طور پر کوئٹہ میں ہزارہ آبادی کے علاقوں میں سکیورٹی کو بڑھائے۔ اس کے علاوہ حکومت سنی دیوبندی تکفیری عسکریت پسند تنظیموں کے فوجی، نیم فوجی اور خفیہ ایجنسیوں کے ساتھ روابط کے الزامات کی بھی تحقیقات کرائے۔

بریڈ ایڈمس کے مطابق پاکستان کے سیاسی رہنما، قانون نافذ کرنے والے ادارے، عدلیہ اور فوج کو اس مسئلے کو اتنا ہی سنجیدگی سے لینا ہوگا جیسے وہ ریاست کو لاحق دوسرے سیکیورٹی خطرات کو لیتی ہے۔

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  • Moderate Deobandis are themselves under threat from ISI-sponsored Takfiri Deobandis.

    Chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Maulana Fazlur Rehman bemoaned the shifting of responsibility for poor law and order situation on religious groups.
    “It is unjustified to shift the entire burden of uncontrollable law and order situation on the religious segment of society,” Fazl said. The leadership of religious parties has played its role for religious harmony and ‘never’ fueled the fire of intolerance and sectarianism, the JUI-F chief said.
    He did acknowledge though that there were elements who wanted to promote sectarianism and intolerance.
    “These elements are used either by agencies or the government to achieve their targets,” he said, adding that such elements can be traced within political parties and even the government.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/432288/parliament-ponders-who-to-blame-for-law-and-order-mess/

    ’فرقہ وارانہ تشدد میں حکومتی اداروں کا ہاتھ‘

    پاکستان میں ایک بڑی مذہبی سیاسی جماعت جمیعت علماء اسلام کے اپنے دھڑے کے سربراہ مولانا فضل الرحمٰن نے کہا ہے کہ پاکستان میں فرقہ وارانہ فسادات میں مذہبی جماعتوں کا نہیں بلکہ حکومتوں اور سیکورٹی اداروں کا ہاتھ رہا ہے۔
    یہ بات انہوں نے بدھ کی شام گئے شروع ہونے والے قومی اسمبلی کے اجلاس میں ملک میں امن و امان کی صورتحال پر ہونے والی بحث میں حصہ لیتے ہوئے کہی۔

    انہوں نے کہا کہ ملک میں فرقہ واریت تب بڑھتی ہے جب سیکورٹی ادارو اور حکومتوں کو اپنی سیاسی ضروریات کے لیے اس کی ضرورت پڑتی ہے اور وہی اس کے ذمہ دار ہیں

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/09/120905_fazalur_rehman_sectarian_ra.shtml

  • Finally, HRW realized that Shia killings in Pakistan is not ‘sectarian violence’. It’s state-sponsored terrorism through Takfiri extremist groups (not Sunni).

  • This is a soft indictment of General Kayani and other Pakistn army commanders. Thy must be tried for crimes against humanity in a UN tribunal.

  • While this report was being issues in New York, right at that time, 5 more Shias were killed in Pakistan, 3 in Karachi, 2 in Quetta.

    While other incidents did not make it to national newspapers, this heart wrenching story of a grandfather, father and son made its way to Dawn newspaper.

    ‘Sectarian attack’: Advertising veteran, son shot dead

    From the Newspaper | Our Staff Reporter | 9 hours ago

    KARACHI, Sept 5: Chairman of the Islamic Research Centre Trust and veteran advertising practitioner Mukhtar Azmi and his son were killed while his grandson was critically wounded in a gun attack on University Road across the Civic Centre on Wednesday.

    The killings sent ripples of shock and grief among the Shia community and media practitioners.

    The family was coming in a car from their office in Saddar and heading home in Nazimabad No 4 when two armed men riding a motorbike targeted them between the old vegetable market and Edhi Centre office within the remit of the PIB Colony police station, said sub-divisional police officer of the area Nasir Lodhi.

    “They targeted the family with ease, taking advantage of the slow-moving traffic,” he added.

    “Mr Azmi, 74, sustained a gunshot wound to his head. His son, Mohammad Baqar Azmi, 45, was hit by a bullet in the chest and grandson Mohammad Ali sustained a gunshot wound in the neck,” said the police.

    However, they added, the riders managed to escape despite the traffic jam.

    As a result of the firing, both Mr Azmi and his son died on the spot while his grandson, Mohammad Ali, was rushed to a private hospital on Stadium Road where he was being operated upon, the police said.

    “Both father and son died before they could be shifted to the hospital; they had suffered gunshot wounds in the head and neck,” the officer said.

    The bodies were shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for medico-legal formalities. Following the post-mortem examination, the bodies were taken to Imambargah Shah-i-Karbala, Rizvia, where a large number of people had gathered for funeral prayers.

    Tension gripped the locality when the bodies were brought to the Imambargah.

    Area residents said that the residence of Mr Azmi, father of five sons and two daughters, in Nazimabad was known as Al Abbas House.

    “His granddaughter’s wedding was scheduled for Sept 6 and Mohammad Ali [the wounded victim] had returned from the US only a day ago to attend his cousin’s wedding,” said the victim’s neighbour.

    While speaking to Dawn, Additional IG Karachi Iqbal Mehmood said: “The killing seems to have a sectarian colour but other possible angles are also being looked into.”

    Meanwhile, Maulana Hasan Zafar Naqvi in a statement issued by Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen termed the killings a great loss for Millat-i-Jafria.

    Describing the ongoing killings as the genocide of the Shias, he said the community would have to resort to extreme steps now.

    Expressing profound grief over the targeted killing, the All Pakistan Newspapers Society stated Mr Azmi was a veteran advertising practitioner and proprietor of MAZ Advertising. He had worked in some ad agencies in different capacities and took active part in the promotion of the advertising industry in the country. He remained office-bearer of the Pakistan Advertising Association for many terms.

    The APNS urged the chief minister and police chief to ensure that culprits were arrested forthwith.

    http://dawn.com/2012/09/06/sectarian-attack-advertising-veteran-son-shot-dead/

  • Daily Times Editorial today

    Crackdown on the LeJ

    The interior ministry has finally decided to move against the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), according to reports of a meeting to review law and order and security chaired by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. The federal government has asked the Punjab government to crack down on the LeJ without further delay, as most cases of sectarian violence have been claimed by the banned organisation. This news would normally be cause for satisfaction, but there are certain troubling questions that linger. For one thing, why the focus on Punjab alone? Most of the atrocities the LeJ has proudly boasted of recently occurred in Balochistan, principally Quetta. Granted, Punjab has been and perhaps remains the headquarters and main base of the LeJ. Reports say one of two former Harkat-ul-Ansar terrorists supervising the killings of Shias, Asmat Muawia, is operating from upper and central Punjab. But this still does not answer the question why the Balochistan government has been ignored in the request to crack down on the LeJ. It is bad enough that it took so long for the authorities to arrest Malik Ishaq, the LeJ chief, but to now focus exclusively on Punjab defies logic and leads to the suspicion that this issue too, like so much else, has become a victim of politicking. Also, those familiar with Balochistan and its political cross-currents would no doubt be surprised at the interior minister’s lumping together of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), LeJ and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Whereas the TTP and LeJ pride themselves on their militant extremist credentials, especially butchery of helpless, unarmed minorities, the BLA is a secular nationalist movement, a very different variety from the other two, to say the least.

    No doubt Islamabad is well aware of what is really at play in the sectarian killing fields of Balochistan and beyond. For it to put out a misleading narrative implies either confusion or more troubling times ahead because of the lack of nuanced focus. It bears noting though that the government had little option but to finally overcome its paralysis on the LeJ issue. For far too long the LeJ’s fanatics have been targeting the Shia minority with reckless abandon, especially Balochistan’s quiet Hazara community. Even though most times the LeJ blatantly boasted of carrying out what has arguably grown into genocide, the government remained silent as Malik Ishaq played to the far-right gallery, adorning the Difa-e-Pakistan Council stage on occasion. Now, when this belated official pronouncement has come, it does not inspire the confidence it should because of the layers of confusion about the scope of actions against the LeJ being confined to Punjab alone and the failure to distinguish between the TTP and LeJ on the one hand, and the BLA on the other. Reading between the lines, it remains to be seen whether the LeJ will continue to receive behind-the-scenes patronage from sections of the security establishment, while the official machinery will continue to be brought to weigh heavily on the BLA. That we might end up as a result with a province brimming with sectarian mercenaries while the secular-nationalist lobby is driven into the ground, seems to disturb few in government.

    It is clear that Pakistan’s frightening pace of disintegration has failed to register in popular political circles. If the government has remained confined to ritual denunciations of Shia killings, the opposition parties are not much better. It seems everybody is simply afraid of associating with targeted minorities, especially the Shia, for fear of swift and violent blowback from groups like the LeJ. No government can be excused for turning a blind eye to sectarian ‘cleansing’. The media too stands accused of inadequately putting the sectarian menace in proper perspective. Its coverage of the issue betrays how little it understands the political and sectarian abyss Pakistan has fallen into. Somewhere amidst the noise, the notion that all citizens of the land must be protected is drowned in oblivion.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C09%5C06%5Cstory_6-9-2012_pg3_1

  • Imran Khan toured GB and on return, he opined that this killing is result of foreign country,s involvement. i think he is right. This all is sponsored and manipulated.