Original Articles

Statements by HRW, Amnesty and HRCP on Shia genocide in Pakistan (November 2012)

Editor’s note: A number of leading human rights groups have issues statements urging Pakistani State and government to protect Shia Muslims. A couple of things are of note:

1. None of the statement clearly identifies the known and proud perpetrators of violence against Shia Muslims, i.e., Takfiri Deobandis. It is our considered opinion that presenting Takfiri Deobandi militants (of Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangiv, Taliban etc) as Sunni extremists is counter-productive. It serves to provide a wider base and legitimacy to Takfiri Deobandi militants and also serves to obfuscate the identity of those responsible for violence. In almost all acts of violence against Shia Muslims, not a single Sunni Barelvi (Sufi) is involved. While Saudi Wahhabis are most probably funding Takfiri Deobandis in Pakistan, no Pakistani Wahhabi group is known for orchestrating the attacks on Shias. The anti-Shia violence in Pakistan is almost entirely a Deobandi phenomenon, and should be described as such. It should also be highlighted that the same militants (Takfiri Deobandis) who attack Shia Muslims also attack Sunni Barelvi (Sufi) Muslims. Thus they dynamic of anti-Shia violence in Pakistan is Deobandi vs Shia+SunniBarelvi+Ahmadi, not Sunni vs Shia.

2. Wile 800 Hazara Shias killed in Quetta are indeed killed due to their Shia faith, easily identifiable due to their racial features, rights groups should also acknowledge at least 300 non-Hazara Shias killed in Quetta in recent years. None of these deaths (of Hazara Shia and non-Hazara Shia) in Quetta should be seen in isolation from the country-wide Shia genocide in which Shias of all provinces, areas and ethnic backgrounds are being indiscriminately killed by Takfiri Deobandi terrorists of Sipah-e-Sahaba, Taliban and other allied groups. According to an estimate, at least 20,000 Shia Muslims have been killed so far.

Despite these observations, we thank human rights groups for highlighting the anti-Shia violence in Pakistan and hope they will continue to monitor the situation and update the United Nations and international community about the pre-genocide like situation facing Shia Muslims at the hands of Takfiri Deobandi militants sponsored by Pakistan Army.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Statement

HRW urges govt to protect Shias from attacks during Muharram

21 November 2012

New York: The Pakistani government should urgently act to protect Shia Muslims in Pakistan from sectarian attack during the Muslim holy month of Muharram, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.

Today’s deadly twin bomb attacks in Karachi at a Shia Imbargah underscore the seriousness of the threat faced by the Shia community, said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.

Concerns are greatest for possible attacks on Shia processions marking Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, which this year is on November 25.

“Shias in Pakistan should be able to participate in Ashura processions without fear of attack,” said Hasan. “Pakistani authorities need to address the severe danger faced by the Shia population with all necessary security measures. They can start by arresting extremist group members responsible for past attacks,” he added.

Pakistani and international human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch, have made numerous calls to Pakistan’s authorities to hold those responsible for the attacks to account. While authorities claim to have arrested dozens of suspects, no one has been charged in these attacks.

“The ongoing targeted killings of Shias send a chilling message to all Pakistanis that their government won’t necessarily act to protect them,” said Hasan. “The government’s failure to break up the extremist groups that carry out these attacks calls into question its commitment to protect all of its citizens,” he added.

Some Sunni extremist groups are known to have links to the Pakistani military and its intelligence agencies. Groups, such as the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), operate with impunity even in areas where state authority is well established, such as Punjab province and the port city of Karachi.

“Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders should recognise that their tolerance for extremist groups is killing their own citizens,” said the chairman HRW Pakistan. ”They need to stop appeasing extremists and start holding them accountable,” he added.


Amnesty International’s Statement

22 November 2012

Pakistan: Shi’a killings failure of government protection

The killing of at least 25 people during religious processions yesterday highlights the continued failure of Pakistani authorities to protect the Shi’a community, Amnesty International said.

The Pakistan Taleban (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s bombings in the cities of Rawalpindi and Karachi, which came as the Shi’a community marked the holy month of Muharram.

“These attacks demonstrate the Taleban’s utter disregard for human rights and basic principles of humanity,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

“Unfortunately the Taleban are just one of the groups implicated in attacks on Shi’a Muslims resulting in hundreds killed or injured in Pakistan this year.”

Amnesty International has recorded at least 39 attacks on Shi’a Muslims since the start of 2012.

But despite the frequency of such violence, the Pakistani government has a poor track record of bringing the perpetrators – and those who incite them – to justice.

“From ethnic Hazaras in Quetta and communities in the Tribal Areas, to men and women in Gilgit all the way down to Karachi, people of all walks of life live in constant fear of deadly violence,” Truscott added.

“The Taleban and others must cease all such attacks and the authorities must bring the perpetrators to justice through prompt investigation and fair trials.”

Direct incitement by religious groups to their followers to carry out such violence must be stopped.

“In no way can such attacks be excused as an attempt to protect the religious sentiments of other faiths,” said Truscott.

“Failure to act sends a dangerous message that the authorities are unwilling or incapable of protecting their citizens adding to an already toxic climate of vilification on the basis of religion that has fuelled so much violence in Pakistan this year.”


HRCP’s Statement

HRCP condemns sectarian slaughter

HRCP has strongly condemned the killing of about 25 innocent Pakistani citizens on the grounds of their belief

Lahore, November 22: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned the killing of about 25 innocent Pakistani citizens on the grounds of their belief and called for serious efforts to subdue the monster of sectarianism. In a statement issued here today, HRCP said.

No words are strong enough to condemn Wednesday’s killing spree in which around 25 innocent Pakistanis were slaughtered while performing belief-related rituals nor are adequate for expressing the shame to which the whole nation has been put. It seems the new breed of religious zealots wanted to tell the D-8 dignitaries all about the mess the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been turned into. Quite obviously the targeting of the Shia citizens has reached a new high this year and many quarters apprehend more bloodshed on Ashura. All kinds of eminent figures in government and political parties have issued condemnatory statements and spokespersons of federal and provincial governments are making tall claims above their plans to maintain peace. The virus of sectarianism that has been eating into the vitals of the Pakistan society can be exorcised neither by politicians’ hackneyed rhetoric nor by the antics of ineffective law enforcement agencies. Everybody knows who the Shia-baiters are and what new theories to justify murder on account of religious or sectarian differences the latest crop of jihadists have spawned. Thus, while the administration must do all it can to deal with the crime part of the sectarian militants’ agenda, and prove that their actions can match their proclamations, the leaders of the various schools of religious thought must admit their failure to keep their followers under some discipline. They must seriously work towards reviving the indigenous traditions of tolerance, for they are as much responsible for making Pakistan unlivable as anyone else.

Zohra Yusuf


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  • Pakistan’s Sunni (Deobandi) militant extremists with links to al Qaeda have intensified their attacks on minority Shiites, whom they do not recognize as Muslims.
    Pakistani media reported that a number of Shiites had received death threats via text messages on cell phones ahead of the biggest Muharram procession on Sunday.
    Thousands of Shiites, who make up around 20 percent of Pakistan’s population of 180 million, are expected to march through the streets of many Pakistani cities on Sunday amid heavy security

    The Shiite massacre
    2012 has been one of the deadliest years for Pakistan’s Shiites. Human rights groups say that more than 300 Shiites have been killed in Pakistan so far this year in sectarian conflict.
    The Taliban want to control the Shia Gilgit region
    In August, several gunmen, who were in the guise of Pakistani security officials, stopped a bus traveling from Rawalpindi to the northwestern Gilgit region and dragged the passengers off the bus. The gunmen asked the passengers to show their identity cards, after which they brutally killed 22 of them at point blank range, making sure that they belonged to the minority Shiite community. The Taliban claimed responsibility of the attack.
    It was the third such incident in six months. Pakistani experts say that although Shiite Muslims are also murdered in other parts of Pakistan, those living in the northwestern Gilgit-Baltistan region, a predominantly Shiite area, face a systematic onslaught by the Taliban and other militant groups. Some experts have gone so far as to call it a “sectarian cleansing” of Shiites.
    “What is happening to the Shiite Muslims in Pakistan is unimaginable,” Syed Ali Mujtaba Zaidi, a Shiite activist in Karachi, told DW. “I can’t go to work, can’t pick up and drop my daughter off at school, and can’t go to areas where the Shiites are in the minority. Our social life has almost ended.” Zaidi also said that it had become impossible for Shiites in Pakistan to publicly express their views about religion and politics.
    Pakistani human rights groups accuse the country’s security agencies of backing Sunni militants and failing to protect the minority groups of the country.

    DW report

  • According to some estimates up to 20% of Pakistanis, including the country’s revered founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, are Shias.

    But on Thursday a Taliban spokesperson told the Associated Press that the movement would remain at war with a religious minority they consider “blasphemers”.

    “We will continue attacking them,” he said.

    In the last year the attacks have spread into areas that were once free of such attacks, particularly the eastern city of Quetta, where a community of ethnic minority Hazaras, who are overwhelmingly Shia, have been targeted.

    The assaults include drive-by shootings of Hazara bystanders by gunmen riding on motorbikes.

    And in the mountainous, northern province of Gilgit-Baltistan, Shias have been taken off public buses and executed.

    Human Rights Watch has claimed the Pakistani state considers some of the Sunni extremist groups as useful allies, and therefore turns a blind eye to their activities.

    The county must “stop appeasing extremists and start holding them accountable,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, the organisation’s director in Pakistan.

    The threat of violence has hit business in Karachi, the country’s economic hub, with offices, shops and schools all closing mid-week.

    “We are taking precautions but there are more than 600 congregations and 129 processions in Karachi alone,” said Fayyaz Leghari, chief of police in Sindh province. “We can check people who come to the Imambargah but the processions are naturally very vulnerable.”


  • Thousands of Pakistani Shia Muslims are now receiving death threat text messages on their cellphones as pro-Taliban militants step up deadly campaign against the community members across the violence-ravaged country.

    “Kill, Kill, Shias,” say the text warnings to members of the community.

    The smear campaign comes a day after nearly 40 Shia Muslims were killed in three bomb attacks on religious gatherings in the southern port city of Karachi and the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Wednesday evening.

    Heavily armed militants have targeted several religious ceremonies commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) in different regions of Pakistan over the past week.

    Human rights groups say hundreds of Shia Muslims have been killed in the violence-hit country so far this year.

    Several citizens have expressed their deep concerns over the ongoing massacre and religious persecution of Shias across Pakistan.

    “Genocide against Shias is already taking place in Pakistan so the text messages don’t really matter that much,” daily Dawn newspaper quoted Jalal Haider as saying.

    Nearly 50,000 people plan to march through the streets of Islamabad on Saturday in order to protest against the ongoing sectarian violence and growing insecurity across the county.

    Violence has surged against Shia Muslims in different parts of Pakistan in recent months. Since the beginning of 2012, hundreds of Shias have been killed in various parts of the militancy-wracked country.

    Pakistan’s pro-Taliban militants have launched a violent campaign against Shia Muslims over the past years. According to local sources, militants affiliated to Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorist groups have killed thousands of Shia Muslims in the region since the start of the campaign.

    The country’s Shia leaders have called on the government to form a judicial commission to investigate the bloodshed.

    The killing of Shias in Pakistan has sparked international outrage, with rights groups and regional countries expressing concern over the ongoing carnage. Still, those behind the violence are rarely caught or punished.

    Human Rights Watch issued a statement in September asking the Pakistani government to “urgently act” to protect the Shia Muslims in Pakistan.


  • Day of Suicide Attacks Heightens Fears in Pakistan

    Pakistan — A series of suicide bomb attacks on Pakistani Shiites as they observed a major religious holiday killed at least 26 people and wounded dozens on Wednesday, heightening fears of further bloodshed in the coming days.

    Shiites are observing the Mourning of Muharram, a 10-day period in which lengthy processions wind through major urban centers and that culminates on Sunday.

    Despite efforts to step up security, including switching off cellphone networks for hours at a time, the government has been unable to prevent Sunni extremist militants from reaching their targets.

    The deadliest attack occurred close to midnight in Rawalpindi, home to the military’s headquarters, when a blast ripped through a religious procession headed toward a mosque in the city center. Witnesses told local television stations that a suicide attacker had flung a grenade into the crowd before detonating explosives strapped to his body. News media reports, citing the police, said at least 23 people had been killed and 47 had been wounded.

    Hours earlier, two blasts in the port city of Karachi killed at least three people and wounded at least 17. A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle rammed into a rickshaw, setting off an explosion that killed two people and wounded several others. Moments later a second blast at the same location killed another person and wounded about 10, including journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first blast.

    Sectarian violence in Pakistan has acquired a deadly momentum over the past year with attacks on minority Shiites across the country, from passes in the northern mountains to the tribal belt along the Afghan border and major cities including Karachi and Quetta.

    The attacks are mostly by sectarian groups, like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, that also have ties to the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist militant organizations.


  • The plight of Pakistani Shias
    November 23, 2012

    Mehmal Sarfraz

    Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is also the month when Muslims, especially Shia Muslims, mourn the death of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) grandson Hazrat Imam Hussein and members of his family during the battle of Karbala.

    The followers of Saudi Wahabiism are historically anti-Shia. With Saudi brand of Wahabiism spreading in Pakistan through Saudi-funded seminaries and the resultant Arabisation of Pakistani society, Shia lives are in grave danger. This year alone, hundreds of Shias have been target-killed. Pakistani Shias are facing the wrath of local Yazids, turning the country into another Karbala for Imam Hussein’s followers. The holy month of Muharram has already seen targeted attacks against the Shia community.

    In the line of fire: Pakistani security officials comb the site of a bomb explosion near a Shiite Muslim mosque in Karachi on Wednesday. Pic/AFP

    On November 21, the Shia community was targeted in Karachi and Rawalpindi. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened that in the days to come, more such attacks will follow. Shias are bearing the brunt of the pro-Saudi and pro-jihad policies followed by the military establishment and the government of Pakistan. Anti-Shia organisations like the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have had the overt and covert support of the military as well as rightwing political parties. It does not seem likely that the grievances of the Shia community in Pakistan will be addressed given how the security forces and the government have turned a blind eye towards their plight.

    The military establishment uses these sectarian jihadi outfits to fight proxy wars on its behalf in the region. They are considered Pakistan’s ‘assets’ despite the fact that these same groups have also been involved in killing both military and civilian targets in the country. Unfortunately, many Pakistanis believe in conspiracy theories and think that these attacks are being carried out by external forces to destabilise our country. This is the height of delusion when slogans like ‘Kafir, kafir, Shia kafir’ (Shias are infidels) are openly chanted by Pakistani people at public gatherings of banned military outfits.

    The government was quick to ban YouTube more than two months ago when a blasphemous film on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) surfaced on the internet yet no one has been able to ban hate literature and hate speech in the country. Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, etc, do not feel safe in this country because the state of Pakistan refuses to protect them despite continuous attacks.

    The more the state abdicates its responsibility, the more the terrorists are empowered. The more the state ignores its ethnic and religious minorities, the more it opens the doors for religio-fascist forces. Pakistan’s policy of Islamisation has turned this country into a fortress of intolerance.

    What now needs to be done is to undo all flawed policies and move towards a secular Pakistan but this needs political will. The military establishment and our judiciary are inherently rightwing but even a progressive party like the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been appeasing the religious forces for political gains. This is our tragedy.

    It is important that the people of Pakistan, regardless of their sect and religion, should stand behind our Shia brethren by standing up to all obscurantist forces. If we do not, we’d lose our country to religio-fascism.

    The writer is a Pakistani journalist. Reach her at mehmal.s@gmail.com


  • mohammedhanif ‏@mohammedhanif
    Pakistan has been an open prison for Shias for a long time. We are our own Israel…

    Raza Rumi ‏@Razarumi
    #Kerbala for Shias who are being terrorisd for sacred acts of worship.Tragic it happns in a country that boasts itself as fortress of Islam!

    salma jafar ‏@Chiltan
    apologies to all shias – wish we could do more than just tweet.

    Hassan Nisar ‏@HassanNisarPK
    I have repeatedly condemned & do condemn the disgraceful attacks against Shias and urged people to focus on the huge problems at home.

    Mosharraf Zaidi ‏@mosharrafzaidi
    Roughly one in five Pakistanis is Shia. If we can’t protect them during Ashura without suspending cellphones, we’ve some thinking to do.

    Mosharraf Zaidi ‏@mosharrafzaidi
    @shazoom1 Violent extremism targeting Shias much older than 6 years. Its a social challenge that transcends governments & individuals.

    Sahar Zaidi ‏@SaharZaidi
    That time of the year when you have to explain to Sunni friends why Shias are beating themselves “violently” on the streets. #GoogleIt

    Rana Safvi ‏@iamrana
    I say it with full conviction: The only place where Shias are free to observe and carry out Azadari is India.

    Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan ‏@DrAQ_Khan
    No matter how much Yazidi forces are trying to inflict brutality on Hussaini’s of Pakistan, they should know Husainiyat will remain till end

    Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan ‏@DrAQ_Khan
    Lovers of Hussain a.s can never die or decrease because love is immortal and no one of these Yazidi takfiris can damage It.

    Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan ‏@DrAQ_Khan
    My heartiest condolence to all Shuhada e Muharam of Pakistan. I wish I’d be lucky enough to die in the name of Husain a.s too.

    Nadeem F. Paracha ‏@NadeemfParacha
    TTP claims responsibility for blasts http://dawn.com/2012/11/22/ttp-claims-responsibility-for-karachi-pindi-blasts/ … No, no, no! It were US-trained Zionist Rwandans on payroll of Pepsi Cola Co.

    Nadeem F. Paracha ‏@NadeemfParacha
    At least the warmongering Israelis airdrop warning pamphlets over Gaza’s civilian areas …

    Nadeem F. Paracha ‏@NadeemfParacha
    Quaid-e-Dehshat: ‘You’re NOT free to go to Imambargahs, shrines, non-Wahabi mosques, Ahmadiya places of worship .. We’ll fucking kill you!’

    Nadeem F. Paracha ‏@NadeemfParacha
    It was only natural for a chest-thumping ‘Bastion of Islam’ to mutate into a haven of takfiris.

  • These are all lies. No one should name any groups and get to specific. We are all muslims and we are all liberals and we are all against being critical of Taliban and those who support them.

  • It is representing a specific sect and spreading sectarianism. No doubt it can’t liberal one.

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