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Speak now on #ShiaGenocide, or forever hold your peace – by Saroop Ijaz

In the summer of 1979, a horrifying thing began to happen in Atlanta, Georgia, US — African-American children began going missing and subsequently their murdered bodies found. This continued till the spring of 1981 and by that time, the dead bodies of 28 children were found. The brilliant James Baldwin wrote an account of the episode in his 1985 book The Evidence of Things Not Seen. Baldwin narrates an arresting story, which provided the inspiration for the book. “Some years ago, after the disappearance of civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwirner in Mississippi, some friends of mine were dragging the river for their bodies. This one wasn’t Schwirner. This one wasn’t Goodman. This one wasn’t Chaney. Then …: ‘It suddenly struck us — what difference did it make that it wasn’t them? What are these bodies doing in the river?’”

In 2013 in Pakistan, murdered bodies of children are being found. Although a critical difference being that they do not go missing, nothing as sly as that; they are murdered for everyone to see by people who then have the audacity to claim responsibility for it. Syeda Mehzar Zehra is a 12-year-old child, who survived the murderous assault, for now, may she be blessed with a long and happy life. However, one cannot wish her convincingly. Her father was a Shia and was killed for being one. Many young Hazaras in Quetta, this Thursday did not have the fighting chance that Mehzar still has. Yet, we are still not asking ourselves, what are these bodies doing in the river, in our case, a river of Shia blood. If this goes on, we will begin to find bodies that we know, all of us would.

We live in a time and a place where murder does not stir us anymore, at least the common, run of the mill murder does not. The daily numbers of dead in Karachi or Peshawar are just a statistic. Maybe, I presume insensitivity, however, most of us do not give them a second or perhaps, a third thought. Life goes on. Let me propose a simple experiment, which will, perhaps, recapture your interest in the daily murder. Next time you see a news report about someone killed in Karachi or Quetta for no ostensible reason, try and look up the name (of course provided the newspaper has felt the need to print it). Chances are many of you will see a pattern. The Pakistani media goes out of its way to take terrible amounts of trouble in not stating the obvious. Shias are being killed in this country through an orchestrated scheme. Some people do not like it when the word ‘genocide’ is used; I assume they are waiting to begin condemnation once the threshold number is crossed, they will not have wait for much longer now. In any event, most news outlets do not deem it fit to mention that ‘Shias’ are killed in the attack. Apparently, saying ‘sectarian violence’ conveys all that needs to be said.

The policy of not identifying ‘sectarian’ affiliations is probably from a different time, now it seems from a different place. The objective would perhaps be something noble if slightly innocuous as not aggravating sectarian divides, not fanning flames etc. in any event, whatever it was, it has outlived its utility. The divide is already aggravated, the flames are already fanned. Identifying the victims in news reports and opinion pieces will not stop these barbaric murderers. However, it at least will allow the courtesy that they have not died accidentally. They have died for the reason of being a ‘Shia’ and it is only decent that this is acknowledged. Those who died in Quetta were denied even the nominal respect of coverage of their death since the media was busy covering an inconsequential political rally in Karachi and unserious quibbling on passports. While 100 people were murdered; this is shameful.

Remaining on news reporting, why the media persists with the hollow term ‘targeted killing’, when in fact, all they are saying is that the killing is entirely random. If it is a ‘targeted killing’ then there should be a responsibility or even a curiosity to find out why a particular individual was a target. To put it plainly, a disturbing majority of those killed without an apparent reason is ‘Shia’. Being a Shia in Pakistan is a very good reason for someone being a target. Not mentioning that is either complicity or cowardice.

Firstly with Malala Yousufzai, recently with Shahzeb Khan, we have seen some evidence of our ability to mobilise and condemn brutality. However, not all causes are treated equally. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)/ASWJ/SSP do not allow for the shallow nuance and half-baked ideas of anti-imperialism, US withdrawal from Afghanistan, drone attacks, etc. They display these racist cults of deaths for what they are. Hence are less glamorous, less room to sound intellectually skeptic. Neither do the leaders of these organisations have feudal surnames and belong to far-flung ‘rural and backward areas’ so as to enrage our tender sensibilities. No long marches against them in the near future. Not as hip and modern as shady marches for hazy agendas of ‘change’. Operation against ‘our strategic assets’ brings forth the need for a consensus and other such insincere gibberish. The military establishment has never bothered with these formalities when it comes to Balochistan generally. The Army, the FC, the federal and provincial governments need to realise that this will get to everyone, it already is. The military establishment has to realise what its ‘double games’ are costing us and will eventually cost itself. The Balochistan government has to grow some spine and stand up to the FC or else go home. The Punjab government has to stop mollycoddling these organisations. The PPP-led federal government needs to stop ‘surviving’, look the challenge in the eye and put the talk into action.

The futility of writing opinion pieces like this is not lost on me. Yet, even more frightening is the notion when one will not write or say this, because it will become too repetitive, too exhausting, perhaps we will become too afraid or worse too numb.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2013.

About the author

Abdul Nishapuri

3 Comments

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  • Reader Comments (30)
    ALL COMMENTSREADER’S RECOMMENDATIONS
    Jat
    15 hours ago
    Reply
    Frightening scenario to say the least. But no one is listening. The defenders are happy merely defending their turf and even there, doing a poor job of it. The common people are barely surviving on the hope that all this cannot happen to them, until it does.
    The attackers are getting stronger and spreading their tentacles on an ever increasing ideological and geographical domain.
    Recommend23

    sabi
    15 hours ago
    Reply
    Author,
    Kiyani has catagoricaly said that military is not going to give up its doctrine based on idealogy of Pakistan.The powerfull dragon of fire, milked by deadly idealogy, is now starting expanding its wing to swallow its own masters and supporters.Let it happen why should they escape the fire they burnt for others.There is no escape believe me
    Kudos and regards.
    Recommend16

    Arifq
    15 hours ago
    Reply
    Hospitals/Doctors in Quetta have been threatened not to treat shia victims, this happened before the recent carnage of 100 Hazara Shias killed. I salute the protesters in Quetta who chose to defy the odds and made this sleeping nation notice. If we have any humanity then we must arrest those who continue to attack and kill Shia’s in Pakistan. We are all Hazara/Pakistanis.
    Recommend13

    John B
    15 hours ago
    Reply
    The PM has given FC the authority of police to bring law and order which only is going to bring out the Baluchistan issue again overshadowing the Shia killing.
    At this juncture, I am reminded of the open letter written by President Zardhari to Washington Post where he alludes to the religious extremism prevailing in PAK.
    Given the situation of rampant sectarian and religious killing since then, and inability of PAK army to protect its own installations and ministers, and lack of interest in going after the beheading maniacs even after sacrificing her own sons of the soil at the alter, one wonders if there is a pervasive religious extremism rooted in ethnically biased PAK army in their moot response.
    Recommend11

    Zain Naqvi
    14 hours ago
    Reply
    First of all Thank you Saroop for very thought provoking article. Second point is: You can just imagine the ignorance of majority of Pakistani people from their posts on Burma. When they didn’t even have a prove or solid evidence for killing of Muslims in Burma, Almost every single Muslim on social media was posting pictures, videos and status updates for the “Muslims” of Burma. And Now when Hundreds of Shia Muslims are being targeted on a daily basis, i see all those Muslims n social media silent on this issue. I conclude two things from my observations: Either the Blood of Shia Muslim is not as important as Burma Muslims or Shias are in fact Kafirs and their elimination is almost priority of all “Sunni Muslims” in Pakistan and raising their voice for shias will make them Kafir too.
    Recommend10

    Mirza
    13 hours ago
    Reply
    Another great effort by ET to wake our conscience and stand up for the truth and justice to stop this genocide of Shia Muslims. I am ashamed to say but as a member of strict Sunni family we have no sympathy for Shia and it shows in the inertia in Pakistan. I wish we could do more to protect the innocent from being butchered. Let us hope that the UN would take notice of this systematic ethnic cleansing of Shia in Pakistan. This is heartbreaking to see and do nothing.
    Recommend8

    Jat
    3 hours ago
    Reply
    @kanwal: The futility of all this makes me weep sometimes.
    I feel for you. This is a carefully orchestrated Creeping Genocide. Slow enough to remain under the radars of international media, Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International, but fast enough to be effective.
    Recommend8

    ABC
    14 hours ago
    Reply
    I didn’t know Pakistanis were this be-sharam and be-his. No particular tv anchor even bothered covering this butchering in Quetta because they know people care about political dramaz
    Ab Tahir-ul-Qadri ne khana khaya, Ab Tahir-ul-Qadri ne pehli dafa Pakistan ka mineral water piya, Ab Tahir-Ul-Qadri ne nai rang ki topi pehni.
    These things are being discussed but not even a single person focused on the heartless shia killing. When I see pictures from the protest I feel like crying. No wonder Pakistan is so bacwards and going worse every moment. We should die of shame.
    Recommend7

    kanwal
    13 hours ago
    Reply
    The so called silent majority of this country is complicit. And i am ashamed to be a pakistani now. Whats left to be proud of if death of humans keepss ongoing in hordes like this and yet fails ti generate as much stirr as the rubbish long marches which never are meant to take place. The futility of all this makes me weep sometimes.
    Recommend6

    bangash
    14 hours ago
    Reply
    very true..again verycourageous article..we are alienating shittes..its massacre…
    Recommend6

    Vikas
    13 hours ago
    Reply
    World the round. You reap, what you sow. Where were you when hindus, christians, ahmadis were killed. You probably didn’t wanted to see the storm coming.
    Recommend6

    Parvez
    15 hours ago
    Reply
    Another good piece by you.
    A politician of any denomination has zero credibility, the man on the street expects nothing from him, except bad. On the other hand our security establishment have over the years painted a picture for public consumption as those the people could rely upon in bad times.
    This picture is fast fading and their credibility is plummeting. Finally the people will realise that they have to fend for themselves and the outcome of this realisation, would be any one’s guess
    Recommend6

    “Azadar”
    14 hours ago
    Reply
    Please, do not stop writing Saroop! You give us hope that humanity exists. All your articles go against the tide of the typical selective discourse that we have to endure in our media.It takes great courage to say what you say on a regular basis. Aside from Dr. Hoodbhoy and Dr. Taqi, I cannot think of anyone else to have consistently written to highlight Shia Genocide in Pakistan by the same groups – ASWJ-LeJ who are also killing Sunnis, Ahmadis, Hindus, Christains, Sikhs just as they are killing Shias in Pakistan. So keep on writing and more power to your pen.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/493106/speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace/