The following are some important guidelines for activists and protesters against Shia genocide in Pakistan. Shia, Sunni and other pro-human rights activists should have clarity and consistency in their discourse and demands. This will ensure that their activism and lobbying has maximum effect.
1. Who is being killed? Shia Muslims of all ethnic backgrounds, including but not limited to Shia Pashtuns, Shia Hazaras, Shia Gilgitis, Shia Punjabis, Shia Muhajirs, are being target killed in Pakistan. Shia Muslims are being killed only because of their faith identity (i.e., Shia sect). Contrary to what some ethno-fascist political groups claim (e.g. HDP in Quetta who due to political expediency give it an ethnic colour), Shias of all ethnicities are being target killed across Pakistan. It is a fact that in terms of death rate per local population, non-Hazara Shias of Quetta (300 killed out of 20,000 total population) have suffered more than any other Shia community, including Shia Hazaras of Quetta (500 killed out of 500,000 total population).
2. Who is killing Shias? Takfiri Deobandi (not Sunni) militants belonging to the Sipah Sahaba and Taliban (SSP, ASWJ, and TTP) are killing Shias. These Deobandi militants enjoy support and protection by Pakistan army due to their Jihadist value for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Sipah Sahaba and Taliban are two names for the same group of Deobandi militants (who are also organized under groups named Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Lashka-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jundullah) who are killing Shias, Sunni Barelvis, Ahmadis and other groups in Pakistan. In the main, all these groups are inter-connected and are given multiple names to create buffers. They are in essence all the same and all of them need to be criticized by their various names and common denominator, i.e., Takfiri Deobandis.
3. Who is the mastermind behind Shia killing? The Shia genocide is being enabled by certain pro-Jihadi elements in the establishment because it provides major infrastructural and organizational support to Takfiri Deobandi and Salafist groups in terms of their training, provision of arms, protection from arrest and courts, censorship in media etc. Currently, certain pro-Jihadi elements in Pakistan army are enabling further Shia genocide by supporting the Defence of Pakistan Council (Difa-e-Pakistan Council) which is a union of vehemently anti-Shia Deobandi and Wahhabi organizations (i.e., Sipah Sahaba and Jamaat ud Dawa). The ideological and financial support to radical Deobandi and Salafist organizations (the foot soldiers) is being provided by governmental and non-governmental Salafi-Wahhabi organizations of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Pakistan’s Supreme court has also released self confessed mass murderers of Shias like Malik Ishaq. They (current Judiciary) are believed to harbour sympathetic feelings for these terrorists.
4. How many Shias have been killed so far? In 2012 alone, approximately 500 Shia Muslims have been target killed in Pakistan. Since 1963, total number of Shias killed in Pakistan is estimated to be at least 20,000, most of whom have been killed since early 1980s. Refer to the Shia genocide database on LUBP.
5. Why are Shias being killed? Shias are being killed because of two reasons: sectarian and political. (1) Sectarian reasons: According to Takfiri Doebandi militants (Sipah-e-Sahaba Taliban), Shias are infidels (kafir) and a Jewish inspired deviation of Islam (Sabai Fitna). The hatred against both Shias and Jews has been fused by this group further enhance the same ideology that motivated 9/11 & 7/7. The Takfiri Deobandi organizations are in turn influenced by the anti-Shia ideology imported from Salafi (Wahhabi) clerics of Saudi Arabia. (2) Political reasons: Shias are also being killed due to political reasons because Pakistan’s military establishment considers Shia Muslims as a major obstruction in the way of Pakistan army’s international Jihadist agenda – its quest for “Strategic Depth” in Afghanistan and India. Similar to Sunni Barelvis, Shia Muslims have refused to participate in the Jihadi-militant activities in Afghanistan, India and other countries. Pashtoon Shias of Parachinar and Hazara Shias of Balochistan (as well as Afghanistan) have refused to surrender to Takfiri Deobandi militants. Shias are being particularly targeted (e.g., by checking their identity cards, by locating them through their Shia name, rituals or other elements of identity) because Takfiri Deobandis consider Shias as Kafir (infidels) and treat Shia Islam as a Jewish (Sabai) conspiracy against Muslims. They consider Shias to be Wajibul Qatl (worthy of being killed) because of Shia faith and rituals.
Given that Shias constitute 15-20% of Pakistan’s population (20-40 million Shias in Pakistan), they constitute single major obstruction to the aspired establishment of the Taliban style Deobandi-Salafist government in Pakistan. Sectarian cleansing of Shias and Sunni Barelvis, forcing them to convert to Sunni Deobandi Islam or emigrate to other countries, is a step toward complete take over of Pakistan by Takfiri Deobandi militants of Sipah Sahaba Taliban.
6. Is Shia genocide an outcome of Sunni vs Shia sectarianism? No. This is a case of Takfiri Deobandi militants (Sipah Sahaba Taliban SST) vs the rest of Pakistan. Same Takfiri Deobandi terrorists who have killed at least 20,000 Shias in Pakistan have also killed thousands of Sunni Barelvis (by attacks on Sunni Sufi shrines in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Pakpatan etc), dozens of moderate Deobandi and Ahle Hadith scholars and hundreds of Ahmadis, Christians and other groups. Not a single Sunni Barelvi is a part of the Sipah Sahaba Taliban. Thus, Shia genocide in Pakistan is an act of Takfiri Deobandi terrorism, not Sunni vs Shia sectarianism.
7. Is Shia genocide in Pakistan an outcome of Saudi-Iran proxy war? No. Nothing could be further from truth. The term Sunni-Shia sectarian violence gives a false neutral impression that Sunnis are indiscriminately killing Shias and Shias are indiscriminately killing Sunnis. While Takfiri Deobandi militants of Sipah Sahaba Taliban are killing both Shia and Sunni indiscriminately, in return there is no evidence of a single Shia or Sunni Barelvi killing Deobandi Muslims on a indiscriminate basis. There are some very few cases of reprisal attacks on leaders and activists of Takfiri Deobandi groups (Sipah Sahaba Taliban) but they should be seen as reprisal attacks on enemy combatants an act of resistance to genocide, and may be resembled with drone attacks on Sipah Sahaba Taliban hideouts in FATA. However, there is no Iranian-sponsored Shia group killing Sunni Barelvis Deobandis etc on an indiscriminate basis in Pakistan.
8. Are Shias in Pakistan being killed by Wahhabis? No. In almost all instances of Shia genocide, militants of the ASWJ and allied groups are involved which is an almost entirely Deobandi phenomenon. Local Ahle Hadith (Salafist or Wahhabi) groups in Pakistan have no involvement in Shia genocide in Pakistan. While some (not all) radical Wahhabi-Salafist groups in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are providing some financial assistance to Sipah Sahaba Taliban, the actual field killers in Pakistan are Deobandis, not Wahhabis. In fact, on several instances in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Takfiri Deobandi militants have also attacked and killed Wahhabis, e.g,. recent murder of an Ahle Hadith prayer leader in Karachi. Therefore, it is factually inaccurate to describe the actual killers as Wahhabis. Pakistani Wahhabi (Ahle Hadith) groups have no role in Shia genocide.
Contrary to what Shia clerics and activists usually allege, Shias are not being target killed by Wahhabi or Salafi terrorists, at least not directly. Almost all of the terrorists who are practically involved in Shia killings are Takfiri Deobandis who work in one or more than one Deobandi organizations including Taliban, Sipah Sahaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Jundullah etc. The boundaries between these organizations are amorphous and overlapping. In other words, a radical Deobandi terrorist may kill a Shia Muslim one day in Karachi as a part of the Sipah Sahaba network, and the next week he may be busy in killing the Pashtun or NATO soldiers in Kandahar under the Taliban banner. (It must be noted that Takfiri Deobandi militants do not represent the majority of Deobandis who are as peaceful and moderate as are other Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadis etc.)
10. Who are the international players behind Shia genocide? Saudi Arabia is the single major international player responsible for Shia genocide in Pakistan and other countries. It is a fact that (barring Egypt) the core Middle East (i.e., the Middle East which was part of Islamic empire during the time of the Prophet and Rashidun Caliphs) comprises at least 40% Shia population, 55% Sufi and Hanafi Sunnis and only 5% Salafist-Deobandis. Salafist-Wahhabis are in majority only in one country in the world, i.e., Saudi Arabia. In fact, Saudi Arabia is surrounded by several Shia majority countries (Iran, Iraq, North Yemen, Bahrain and Eastern Saudi Arabia etc). Salafists and Hanbalis are found in significant numbers only in Saudi Arabia. In contrast, Sunni Hanafi, Shafei, Maliki and Sufi Muslims are in majority in all other Sunni majority countries in the world. Saudi Arabia wants to ease pressure on itself by creating a Salafist-Deobandi caliphate in Pakistan and Afghanistan, therefore, it supports Shia genocide and Sunni Barelvi/Sufi killings in Pakistan and other countries. Qatar, Jordan and UAE also support Saudi Arabia in its global anti-Shia campaign via finance. Along with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE were the only other countries to recognize the Taliban regime in the 1990’s while Iran nearly went to war with the Taliban then.
11. Are India, USA, Israel responsible for Shia genocide in Pakistan? The very notion of India’s involvement in Shia genocide in Pakistan may have some, not lots of truth, given that India would like to exploit internal faultlines in Pakistan. Israel has limited influence in Pakistan. Any statement implicating Israel and India but not taking into account inherent anti-Shia sentiments in Deobandis is cheap populism and deflection tactic. To be fair, the USA has an indirect role in the suffering of Shias because it is a key supporter and protector of Saudi Salafist regime in Saudi Arabia which is persecuting not only Shia Muslims in its own Eastern province and Bahrain but is also financing Takfiri Deobandi and Salafist groups in Pakistan and other countries. The union between Saudi Arabia and USA is more based on economic dependence of US on Saudi oil, than any ideological union against Shia Muslims. Key role in winning over US and other Western countries has been played by the Saudi lobbyists in Washington D.C. and other Western capitals who present Iran and Shia Muslims as enemies of the West and supporters of terrorism. Iran has foolishly fallen into this trap by unnecessarily alienating US, UK, Israel and other countries, e.g., through the Holocaust denial conference, and threatening statements against Israel. The artificial bond between Saudi Arabia and the West may be broken by effective lobbying and also by more independent thinking in Pakistani Shias. We have to understand that some Shia clerics in Pakistan have been educated and trained in religious seminaries in Iran. Some Shia clerics and groups receive financial assistance from Iran. Therefore, they tend to follow the directives and policies of Iranian government. At times they don’t distinguish between the policy agendas and priorities of Iranian government and the actual ground realities in Pakistan. Iranian government may be sincere with its own population, however, Pakistan’s or any other country’s Shia, Sunni or other people are not Iran’s strategic priority.
Shia clerics in Pakistan and other countries must distinguish between the Marja (grand religious authorities based in Iran, Iraq and other countries) and the Iranian political government. Iranian government’s political alliances (e.g., current friendship with Russia, hostility with US and Israel) should not be uncritically followed by Pakistan’s and other countries’s Shias. Pakistani Shias should realize that Saudi Arabia wants to create a wedge between Shias and the West. By antagonizing the US, UK, United Nations, Shias deprive themselves of potential partners against Takfiri Deobandi, Takfiri-Salafist militants. Historically, there is no basis for animosity or friction between Jews and Shias (or between Christians and Shias). Both communities, Shias and Jews, are two of the most persecuted communities in entire human history. Saudi lobby wants Shias to remain engaged in counter productive political and diplomatic war with US, Israel, India etc while at the same time Saudi proxies (Takfiri Deobandi militants) in Pakistan carry out Shia genocide.
Instead of reinforcing the Saudi West alliance, Shia and Sunni Sufi should think of creative ways of breaking that alliance and invite all countries and communities to unite against anti-semitism, Shiaphobia, Takfirism, Taliban, Sipah Sahaba and Al Qaeda. Shias and Sunni Sufis have more in common with Western liberal and human rights values than Takfiri Deobandi-Salafist militants and their sponsors. Shia activists should not deflect attention to India, Israel, USA and other countries. Shias need to be understand that Shia genocide and persecution in the last 1400 years since Saqifa, Umayyads, Abbasids, Ottomans is a legacy of the Salafist-Deobandi militants (and their Nasibi, Yazidi ancestors), not that of the USA and other Western countries.
12. What kind of resources do we need to highlight Shia genocide? We need to be clear on discourse (Killers = Takfiri Deobandis; Killer groups: Sipah Sahaba Taliban; Sponsor of killers: Saudi Arabia; Local sponsors: Pakistan army’s Jihadist generals; Total Shias killed = 20,000). In particular, activists should cite the Shia genocide database (20,000 killed), pictures of Shia children killed in Pakistan (6000 killed), legal discussion of why Shia genocide is an appropriate word, an understanding of non-Hazara Shia community in Quetta (at least 300 killed) which is the largest suffered Shia community in Pakistan in terms of death rate per local population, the case of Mehzar Zehra (Pakistan’s Anne Frank), solidarity with other victims of genocide and persecution (Jews, Sunni Barelvis, Ahmadis, Christians etc). Shia activists should share contact details (email, twitter Id, phone numbers, addresses) of opinion leaders (journalists, anchors, columnists, religious and political leaders, rights activists, bloggers etc), approach them with a request to pay attention to Shia genocide; share and send specimen letters to the United Nations and the government of Pakistan; sign petitions etc.
13. Pre-planning and publicity of events: Spend a lot of time in planning the protest and most importantly circulate its information via mainstream and social media. Contact Pakistan and international media as well as social media blogs and activists to advertise the event. Use appropriate hash tags and themes to promote the event. Some recommended hash tags on Twitter and facebook are: #ShiaGenocide #TakfiriDeobandis #SipahSahabaTaliban Take ample good quality pictures from different angles of the protest, make good quality videos, dedicate at least some people who can report the event live on Twitter and if possible also via video streaming. Issue a press release with clarity of discourse and aims before and after the event.
Suggested Banners and slogans for Protests against Shia Genocide
Injustice, Unjustified / Stop Shia Genocide
Mulah Military can not hide / Stop Shia Genocide
Enemies of Pakistan / Sipah Sahaba Taliban
Evil, Devil and Satan / Sipah Sahaba Taliban
Killers of every Insaan / Sipah Sahaba Taliban
Lanat Lanat Ber Shaitan / Sipah Sahaba Taliban
Bud ter, bud ter az haiwan / Sipah Sahaba Taliban
We are Pakistan / No more Taliban
Soorat Gundi Seerat Gundi / Takfiri Deobandi
What can Pakistan’s Shias do to save themselves from further killings?
- Apply for licensed (legal) weapons and forcefully defend themselves in case any Takfiri Deobandi terrorist attacks them in their offices, cars, mosques, markets, religious gatherings etc.
- Use the right discourse. Clearly identify the killers (foot soldiers are brainwashed Takfiri Deobandis of Sipah Sahaba; protectors and supporters of killers are Pakistan army generals; financiers of killers are Salafi-Wahhabi mullahs of Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf countries);
- Clearly highlight the identity of the killed community (Shias are being target killed not due to their ethnicity but due to their faith), Shias are being killed by Takfiri Deobandis who are also killing Sunni Barelvis and other groups;
- Reject the sold out ethnic leaders (e.g., some Hazara ethnic leaders with known links with Pakistan’s military establishment) as well as sold out Shia Mullahs (e.g., those who want to promote Iranian foreign policy at the cost of Pakistani Shias’ lives). Both of these groups (ethnic leaders and Iranian-influenced mullahs) are not helping Shias in clearly identifying the killed and the killers.
- Organize and present reliable data on attacks on and murders of Shia Muslims (date, place, event, number of killed, number of injured, details of killed and injured (name, age, gender, profession) etc);
- Liaise with Pakistani and international media (Urdu and English) as well as human rights organizations to create awareness about the ongoing and systematic target killing of Shia Muslims;
- Coordinate and organize mutual support with other oppressed, target killed or persecuted groups (e.g., Balochs, anti-Taliban Pashtoons, Ahmadis, Christians, Barelvis etc).
Set of demands to the Pakistan government, army and the international community
- Provide accountability: urgently investigate and prosecute those responsible for recent attacks on Shia Muslims in Quetta, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Gilgit Baltistan, Kurram Agency, D.I.Khan etc, and the increasing violence against Shia Muslims and all vulnerable communities in Pakistan. Urgently arrest and award exemplary punishment to Malik Ishaq Deobandi, Orangzeb Farooqi Deobandi, Khadim Dhilloon, Molvi Abdul Aziz and other known Takfiri Deobandi terrorists who have killed thousands of Shia and Sunni Muslims in Pakistan. In view of a number of his profile prison breaks in Quetta and Gilgit, urgently implement the death sentence awarded to Takfiri Deobandi terrorists.
- Provide reasonable compensation and increased livelihoods development for injured survivors and victims’ families. As a minimum, Rs. one million per head should be given for all Shias killed and Rs. 5 lac per head for all those injured in anti-Shia violence by Takfiri Deobandi militants. Government should also provide employment to at least one family member of every Shia Muslim killed by Takfiri terrorists
- Ensure active protection for those facing attacks from militant groups to address the growing perception that state authorities look the other way when Shia Muslims are attacked. Walk-through X-Ray scanners, metal detectors, and licensed weapons should be provided to each Shia mosque and Imambargah free of cost or on subsidised rates. Up to date anti-terrorism training should be provided to Shia volunteers who protect Shia mosques, majalis, and Muharram processions.
- Remove land-mines from the country-side and roadways leading to Khurram Agency designed to particularly target and impede the movement of the Shia Muslim community.
- Forcefully implement the ban on terrorist groups within Pakistan including the Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Tehrike-e-Taliban, as well as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (essentially the new name for the banned Sibah-e-Sahaba). In particular, there must be an urgent enforcement of ban on Takfiri Deobandi terrorist group Sipah Sahaba which is currently freely operating in the new name of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and is also a part of the Mutahida Deeni Mahaz (MDM) and Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC). Sipah Sahaba and its various sub-groups are responsible for massacre of at least 20,000 Shias, thousands of Sunnis, hundreds of Ahmadis and Christians in Pakistan.
- Pakistan government, in particular Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority PEMRA, must take action against those media channels and newspapers which routinely misrepresent Shia genocide as Sunni vs Shia sectarian violence or present it as Hazara specific ethnic violence. Also action should be taken against those media outlets which act as Takfiri terrorists propaganda machines by inviting and providing air time to leaders of Takfiri terrorist groups in Pakistan, e.g., Ahmed Ludhianvi, Tahir Ashrafi, Hafiz Saeed etc.
- Urgently release Shia cleric Maulana Ghulam Raza Shah Naqvi who remains arrested in Lahore without fair trial for more than 15 years.
- Urgently suspend Rana Sanaullah of PML-N, Law Minister of Punjab, because of his links with Sipah Sahaba and his hateful statements against Shia rituals of Muharram.
- Actively investigate allegations of collusion between militant groups and military intelligence and paramilitary forces, as well as members of the judiciary, holding personnel responsible if found to be involved in such criminal acts.