Original Articles

The Protests on Shia Genocide and PPP’s Delayed Response

Governor Raj

The last three days, Labaik Ya Hussain, the cry of the oppressed, was on the lips of millions of Pakistanis.  They included not just Shias, but also Sunnis (both Barelvis and Deobandis), Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus who came out in support of the Shias in Quetta.  From Karakoram to Karachi, Pakistan stood united in grief and outrage against the ongoing Shia Genocide in Pakistan.

In the last few decades, every community, regardless of their faith, ethnicity or class structure, has suffered terribly at the hands of the Saudi-financed, ISI backed and Judiciary-protected militant groups like Lashkar Jhangvi/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat/Sipah Sahaba, Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The protests were triggered by the defiant and brave stance of the Shia Hazaras of Quetta who had just lost over a hundred of their brothers, sons and fathers in the latest terrorist attacks by the groups mentioned.  As a long suffering community that has lost at least 700 members due to their Shia faith, the Hazaras refused to bury their martyred until they received justice –justice that was continually denied not only to them but to all those who are daily suffering at the hands of the LeJ monsters.

In their brave stance, they rallied the entire country to come out and conduct a protest that caught global imagination. Peaceful protests emerged all over Pakistan with 17 locations in Karachi alone. The universally respected symbolism of Imam Hussain (and Hussainiat) was the guiding force of these protests as no property was damaged and no violence was conducted.

However, towards the end of the protests, things took a dark direction whose long term effects do not bode well.  Let us consider:

The Protesters: If anyone wanted to see the ideal peaceful protestors who had suffered the worst but choose non-violence, this was the place.  In spite of the efforts of some social media activists who have a history of obfuscating on this issue, the protestors remained committed to protesting Shia Genocide.  The usage of vague and misleading ethnic or sectarian terminology was kept to a minimum. Something changed though, in the last few hours of the protest as some opportunists of two pro-establishment parties, the MQM and PTI diverted the protests to serve their party’s political ends.  Suddenly, one or two sections of the country-wide protests changed from condemning LeJ and its protector, the Chief Justice,  to condemning the US and abusing President Zardari.

While the PPP-led Government’s pathetic response (or complete lack of) and overall performance in combating Shia Genocide merits criticism, their crime is the crime of omission.  The crime of commission by the Army, the Judiciary, the Media and Pro Taliban parties like PML N and PTI was largely ignored at the end.  These are the groups that protect, support, apologize, promote and stand in solidarity with the LeJ-ASWJ in the DPC.  To use an LUBP analogy, it makes no sense to just criticize the Governor of Madina but stay silent on Amr bin Saad, Yazeed bin Muawiya, Obaidullah Ibne Ziyad and Shimir for their negative role at Karbala.

The PPP-JUI-PML Q government of Balochistan has been nothing short of a cruel joke. However it is the Fronter Corps (FC) under the Pakistan Army that effectively controls and manages Balochistan to ensure that its strategic assets like the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omar remain secure there. CM Raisani’s sick comments on Shia Genocide (“I will send them a truck of tissues”) deserve the harshest rebuke and a dismissal that is late by two years . But what about the Pakistan Army whose LeJ and Jundullah assets are not just killing Shias (belonging to Hazara, Pashtun, Baloch, Punjabi ethnic origins) but also using the same proxies to infiltrate and delegitimize the decades old struggle of the secular Baloch nationalists.

While those Baloch MPAs who are alleged to protect terrorists need to be hauled up by the Judiciary, what about the FC IG and Core Commander of Balochistan. Instead of asking for action against the LeJ and its army and FC protectors, the Shia Clerics who negotiated with the PM asked Kaira to shut up. They actually wanted the same FC IG and Core Commander to now take care of them.

We all know that our Judiciary can only haul up those whose affiliation is with PPP even if their only crime is being the relative of a suspected criminal (Sikander Jatoi).

However to see the Shia clerics and Shia Hazara community (themselves victims of LeJ attacks) demanding that the perpetrators (the Army) protect them has marked an unfortunate ending to the protests that shook not just Pakistan but the world from their torpor on Shia Genocide. In the short term, this might result in an artificial decline in Shia Genocide. In the long run, putting oneself at the mercy of those who created and handle Sipah Sahaba Taliban is close to suicidal.

President Zardari, Chairman Bilawal and PM Ashraf made a very costly mistake by their inertia in the three days that followed the massacre at Alamdar Road, Quetta.  There were reports of Bilawal wanting to address the Quetta Coffin sit in on day 2. We still don’t know who scuttled that. While PPP MNA and PAC member, Nadeem Afzal Chan must be lauded for his clear condemnation of Baloch CM Raisani on Day 1, where was the top leadership of the PPP and why did not they not use the media to stand in solidarity with the countrywide protests against Shia Genocide. This was a very costly mistake and scores of PPP supporters and activists have highlighted this. Many of them have discussed the frequently poor response times of the PPP senior leadership and this sentiment cannot be ignored.

However, many PPP activists and critical supporters have been at the forefront of Shia Genocide in those days when others like PTI were standing with LeJ in the DPC. In later days, however, Imran Khan has been more vocal in his clear condemnation of Shia genocide at the hands of LeJ terrorist, something on which President Zardari has hardly bothered to speak. However, we cannot ignore PPP Senator Faisal Raza Abidi’s impassioned advocacy against the Sipah Sahaba Taliban since 2008. The PPP has also lost scores of its leaders and activists to the same groups conducting Shia Genocide. Yet, in comparison to the activists of other political groups (especially PTI and MQM), they have accepted the valid criticism against their own party with grace.  PPP and ANP activists have been in the firing line and unlike PTI and MQM, they have not misused the mass protests of Shia Genocide for their own crass political motives.

Epilogue:

Close to midnight, a small fraction of the rally at Bilawal House – as per reports, most probably MQM youths instigated by PTI, some civil society activists and burger types – attacked and manhandled Sharjeel Memon and Pir Mazhar ul Haq. The momentum to divert the peaceful protests against Shia Genocide had been building up for some time in the evening when various social media activists of PTI were diverting the peaceful protestors at Numaish to the other end of the city at Bilawal House.  Prominent PTI activist, Salman Ahmad, in a typical show of his obsessive hatred for Bilawal tweeted about “Occupy Bilawal House” and “Bilawal Chicken”.  His hypocritical act, as always was lost on him when there was no mention of occupying the Court premises that released Malik Ishaq. Similarly, no mention of occupying the various army bases all over Pakistan and specifically the one in Karachi – the same army that created and still maintains ties with factions of Sipah Sahaba Taliban.  Of course, there was no mention of occupying Bani Gala – the 40 acre luxury estate of Pakistan’s most popular Taliban apologist, Imran Khan. Pakistanis who braved three days of freezing temperatures to protest Shia Genocide must take note of this pathetic attempt by PTI activists to divert this burning issue into their grudge with PPP.

In the end, the positives of the Shia Genocide protests must be highlighted where peaceful protests created a real momentum for change. We cannot afford to ignore the negatives. By inviting the same army whose policies have laid the foundation for Shia Genocide, the leaders of the protest have miscalculated and underestimated the strength of the nation that stood in solidarity with them. One can understand their extreme duress but this demand is clearly not a solution.  Similarly, the PPP has paid the price and more, for its earlier inaction. The uncalled for assault on Shia sympathetic PPP leaders like Sharjeel Memon and Pir Mazhar ul Haq is another thing that should concern the protestors as must the attempts by PTI and MQM to hijack Shia Genocide protests for their shallow political opportunism.

About the author

Mustajab Tareen

7 Comments

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  • Dear Mr Tareen;

    In writing this passage you have done a truly righteous deed.
    It was painful to witness the lack of clarity and the reluctance to call Evil by its name by our own side, be they young Shia activists or the `worthies’ in the PPP. As for the mendacity and capacity for hypocricy among the remainder of the political class (minus some perennially well disposed souls in the ANP + MQM), it neither shocks nor distresses one because their `form’ is known, indeed one expects them to behave thus.

    Woe unto this regression! The poor, plain-spoken PSF/PPP workers I had the honour of meeting nearly thirty years ago displayed no such ignorance or ideological confusion. Those young people, sans culottes, sans Blackberry et Twitter et Facebook; were the most politically literate and astute, and also the most culturally confident individuals that I can remember ever knowing.

    I have thought long over this lack of will and wit among many well intentioned Pakistanis, and it seems to spring from a severe lack of cultural grounding. They know not who they really are, and there is that history of the entire society being traumatised, culminating in general schizophrenia because the River Denial runs through this wounded land. It is very interesting that Azadari-e-Hussain, which even at its most superficial level is therapeutic; is anathema to the Enemy.

    Keep pursuing the Truth; even if it leads you to dark, uncomfortable places. And seek out that severed link that was your heritage, your culture is your patrimony and to connect to it is to be whole, a complete person.

    Well done, and Godspeed…cogitate on the following:

    `If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?

    And if I am only for myself, then what am I?

    And if not now,when?’
    RABBI HILLEL, 1st Century BC

  • PPP and PML(N) are bunch of thugs — two sides of the same coin. This Z.A.Bhutto who introduced Saudi factor (Riaz-Al-Khattib Saudi Ambassador to Islamabad, PNA movement, 1977) into Pakistani plotics. BB-Gen. Nasser Babar together with Saudis created Taliban. Sharafis enjoyed Royal palace in Jeddah and now in alliance with SSP-LeJ via Rana Sana-ullah. Where lies the difference?

  • This was an eye opening event for The shia community and those who were happy to see corrupt zardari and comp in corridors of power assuming that he himself a shia follower

  • @ Ayesha

    Are we to infer from your rather garbled comment that you are content with the status quo :the Military-Takfiri-Qazi troika securely in power with their favoured political players in the saddle? It follows from this line of reasoning that all shall be well once the PPP is eliminated from the political process and the pesky progressive nationalists killed off and their following neutralized.

    I hate to be the one to break it to you but this is pure, undiluted ISI ideology; pursued to make Pakistan safe for Takfiri Islam , whereby all dissenters are automatically rendered heretical.

    Faced with this horror, you choose to malign not just Zardari the politician but his own personal devotion to Imam-e-Zamana.Frankly that is none of anybody’s business.
    While we are on the subject of people allegedly seeming to be other than what they really are, would it not be ethical for you to state your real animus, be it Bughz-e-Zardari or some misplaced loyalty to the establishment rather than couch it in concern for Shia plight?

    Kuch Khuda ka khauf karo bibi…

  • Snubbing the stooges
    Nadeem F. Paracha | 23 hours ago 36

    Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan speaks to Shia Muslim protesters in Quetta on January 13, 2013. – AFP Photo

    If you are on Twitter or Facebook, you are bound to come across episodes of (albeit unintentional) comic relief amidst tragedy.

    Take the recent and unprecedented response of the ‘Hazara Shia’ and the Shia in general against the unrelenting carnage they have been facing by groups of maniacs who consider them as ‘heretics’ and are said to have the backing of certain sensitive organs of the state.

    Pushed against the wall and maybe beyond it, the Hazara Shia in Quetta and their supporters across Pakistan, braved biting cold weather and the always present danger of the now ubiquitous violent audacities of the maniacs, to stand their ground in a do-or-die scenario, forcing the government to dismiss the Balochistan government and impose Governors Rule in the war-torn province.

    But amidst all this genuine bravado exhibited by the Shia community and many of their non-Shia supporters, one just couldn’t ignore that young, hyperbolic ‘revolutionary’ lot across social media who suddenly emerge like a spring does from a worn out sofa.

    ‘Occupy this!’ ‘Occupy that!’ This Square, that Square. It’s as if a child would behave after watching a Batman or Superman flick, using a towel as cape and mouthing incoherent shrieking monologues that at least in his little head sound quite like what he’d heard Batman uttering in the movie.

    The wise( if not completely jaded) would rightly suggest that for the last thirty years or so, whatever number of civilian governments this country has had, they have continued to be hostage to a domineering military-establishment: an intricate labyrinth with twisting, turning pathways paved with political intrigues and terrible ideological experiments; a way to all the secret backdoors from where Generals and their lackeys have entered the corridors of power to put Pakistan where it is today.

    And in spite of the fact that the military under General Parvez Kayani has, perhaps for the first time, publicly confessed to the fact that Pakistan faces a greater danger from the monsters that its establishment itself created, the armed forces have remained paralysed in this respect just like their civilian counterparts.

    The admirable reassessment of the situation by the military chief was like looking back at the military-establishment’s follies of befriending maniacs as a ‘strategy,’ but by looking back the military seems to have turned to stone.

    Furthermore, the civilian administration looked back at the military and it too turned to stone.

    Over 40,000 soldiers, policemen, politicians and civilians have been slaughtered by terrorists to whom each and every Pakistani is either a ‘heretic’ or a downright infidel deserving to be killed.

    And this is the kind of audacity that has left the military and the government feeling all at sea and overwhelmed, having little or no idea how exactly to contain this audacious enemy.

    Yet there are those out there who believe the answer lies in the overthrow of government!

    The answer lies in the ousting of a failing, lethargic government through the vote. A government that has focused more on surviving rather than being dynamic and bold in its actions to address the many ills facing the country.

    Civilian set-ups constitute only a fraction of Pakistan’s main decision-making process. They are never sure how far they can go to push certain agendas, actions and policies without angering the military-establishment.

    General Kayani’s statement should have been seen as an opening and a window of opportunity for this PPP-led civilian set-up. If now the military’s high command considers many of its former sacred cows to have become bloodthirsty wolves, the government should have gone all out against these wolves.

    But it didn’t. And neither did the country’s military. Both are waiting for the other to take the decision. And this wait is costing the lives of innocent Pakistanis, soldiers, politicians and policemen.

    What more will it take for the state and the government to turn their condemnations against extremists into action? How many more deaths and bloodbaths?

    It is vital that an election is held as soon as possible. The democratic process that is still a young and raw entity in Pakistan needs to continue. We must realize that democracy alone is the answer to most of the questions being posed by a country affected ever so violently by decades of ethnic and sectarian cracks, animosities and divides inflicted by the establishment and hapless, chaotic governments.

    Democracy alone can turn these detested and dreaded divides into a democratically empowered and progressive diversity.

    All those brave Hazara Shia men, women and children who have stood up to extremist atrocities, a failing state, and a paralysed government, need to be conscious of yet another negative: Infiltration.

    As we can see there are still some men out there who are willing to create the ground required for some backdoor maneuvering. Apart from hyping up manufactured ‘revolutionary movements’ and sudden messiahs, these people also look for openings in genuine movements from which they can infiltrate and ideally hijack it to suite their diabolical political goals.

    Tahirul Qadri is too obvious an example, even though at this point in time his ‘long march’ against the country’s political system (read political parties) has become more of a face saving exercise than anything a bit more threatening.

    More interesting in this context is the way how a number of elements tried to ride the wave of protests generated by an entirely authentic and spontaneous exhibition of defiance and anger shown by the Hazara Shia in Quetta.

    It is understandable that after noticing the genuine sense of sympathy running across large numbers of Pakistanis for what the Hazara men, women and children have faced from violent sectarian bigots, political partitas tried to jump in to get their share of the milage.

    Unable to turn the sombre Quetta sit-in into a vulgar show of populist politics, some parties tried their luck in Shia protests elsewhere in Pakistan.

    I spent a couple of hours at the sit-in held outside Bilawal House in Karachi where President Zardari was staying. The first party to reach the sit-in was the MQM.

    But at least till I was there, I didn’t see its contingent trying to turn the angry gathering into an MQM show. They treated the occasion as nothing more than a photo op because I believe like me they too had sensed that the gathering had already been infiltrated.

    But before I explain the above I must mention my coming across a rather animated group of young PTI members there.

    It is good to see Imran Khan now understanding the ground realities that have been charring Pakistan, and it is admirable that he was quick to show sympathy with the Hazara Shia.

    It’s good because Khan now understands the importance of democracy, and how the hurdles that are manufactured in its path are explained as being messianic, of ‘national interest’ and at times, something wholly ordained by God.

    After all, only last year he was sending emissaries of his party to establishmentarian circuses packed with exactly the kind of religious bigots against whom the Hazara Shia sat in freezing cold weather in Quetta.

    The PTI contingent was shouting to burn Bilawal House down. Of course, had it been a rally outside the headquarters of the maniacs who kill ‘heretics’ like an angry child would harmless little ants, this contingent would never have been there.

    The PTI guys were the comic relief in the tense atmosphere, even though in their heads they were about to storm the Bastille.

    No, the gathering did not turn into a PTI show. I told one of them that The Strings won’t be playing here tonight to which he replied, ‘You PML stooge!’
    Ah, I thought, that was a first.

    I told him I was actually a stooge of democracy and he was better off waving his fist at those who’ve slaughtered over 40,000 men, women and children.

    ‘And stop watching so much Al-Jazeera,’ I jokingly advised. ‘Or you’ll continue to repulse grouchy men like me who have been fans of Khan before you were even in liquid form!’

    Black comedy apart, what bothered me the most about the gathering was the gradual emergence of a few posters with faces of famous Iranian leaders.

    I saw none (on TV) at the Hazara gathering, but did so here. Yes, an attempt was made and almost succeeded to hijack the spontaneous gathering outside Bilawal House.

    Off-shoots of the Shia outfit, the Majlis-e-Wahadat Muslaymeem (MWM), arrived and tried to navigate the gathering into becoming a tad more radical.

    By radical I mean more rhetorical and out-of-focus. The MWM is quite clearly an evolutionary outcome of the many pro-Iran outfits that emerged in the 1980s along side the pro-Saudi/Saudi-backed Sunni extremist organisations.

    Both these tendencies have been at war on the streets of Pakistan for almost three decades now.

    Of course, the extremist Sunnis outfits with the kind of patronage they enjoyed from the establishment have always enjoyed an upper hand, but one of the reasons for this has also been the disconnect the Iran-backed outfits have had with the fate of the Shia in Pakistan.

    Till the Hazara proved otherwise, the normal thing for Shia outfits to do after being attacked by their haters was to pour out and burn the US and/or Israeli flag. Because their backers in Iran enjoy this sight more than anything a bit more concrete.

    But lo and behold! As some MWM members at the Bilawal House gathering began to chant anti-US slogans (mainly out of habit), their slogans were received with half-hearted responses.

    The mood of the gathering was just too sombre and reflective to respond to this kind of meaningless hyperventilating.

    Shia people and their non-Shia supporters outside Quetta have to be extremely careful. It was their peaceful, focused stand and resolve untainted by any glorious ideological narrative and agenda that got them the sympathy of the rest of Pakistan and finally made an impotent government initiate a decisive move.

    Keep the ideologues and stooges away.

    http://dawn.com/2013/01/14/snubbing-the-stooges/

  • Inquiry against Raisani govt urged
    From the Newspaper | Our Staff Correspondent | 21 hours ago 13

    Former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisani. — Photo by APP/File

    QUETTA, Jan 14: Balochistan PPP president Mir Sadiq Ali Umrani has called for an investigation into the alleged corruption committed by the Raisani government during the past four-and-a-half years.

    Addressing a press conference here on Monday, he said the people of Balochistan had welcomed the removal of the government and imposition of governor’s rule in the province.

    Former senator Mian Saifullah Khan Peracha, former provincial minister Jan Ali Changezi, Javed Ahmed, Syed Iqbal Shah and other PPP leaders were present on the occasion.

    Mr Umrani said the federal government had given billions of rupees to Balochistan for development but a big portion of funds was allegedly embezzled because of wrong policies of the Raisani government.

    He said instead of using these funds for the betterment of people, the money was allegedly spent on purchasing big houses and flats abroad.

    “Since I and Jan Ali Changezi were part of the ousted cabinet, we present ourselves for accountability,” Mr Umrani said.

    He said a probe should be initiated against the former chief minister and his ministers for the alleged misuse of development funds.

    The PPP leader said over 1,100 people of the Hazara community had been killed in blasts, suicide attacks and target killings and over 5,000 belonging to other communities also lost their lives over the past five years.

    He said the federal government had no other option but to impose governor’s rule because the ousted government had failed to protect the life and property of people of Balochistan.

    http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/inquiry-against-raisani-govt-urged/

  • @ Writer

    So if calling army for help means “By inviting the same army whose policies have laid the foundation for Shia Genocide, the leaders of the protest have miscalculated and underestimated the strength of the nation that stood in solidarity with them”,

    what should they do? Still rely on PPP government and praise Raeeisani’s nonsense attitude? Should they sit back and wait till death pin point them? Their boiling point crossed a long time ago and this unfortunate event provided them an opportunity to put demands in effective manner. And which worked in real! Shame on PPP leaders who should cowardice to face those poors. Raja said he was unable to sleep due to grief of hazaras, but actually he was busy throwing parties of his son’s wedding. Thats why they demanded intervention of army. Its a simple issue which you are trying to make complex.