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Interfaith conference: Once again Zardari stabs the hearts of Pakistani victims of Islamofascism

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Author: Mahpara Qalandar

On 22 February 2013, President Asif Zardari addressed an interfaith conference called “Living together with diversity – Interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue”.  (Reports on his address can be viewed at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/511421/interfaith-conference-president-faults-global-counter-terror-approach/ and http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\02\23\story_23-2-2013_pg1_1)

What he said at the conference once again proves his insensitivity to the plight of Pakistanis (Ahmadis, Brelvis, anti-Taliban Lashkars, and, above all, Shias). The conference was arranged by an Orwellian-sounding Ministry of National Harmony. The most significant persons in attendance were Bilawal Bhutto, Advisor to Prime Minister on National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti, Justice (Retd) Rana Bhagwan Das and Chairman Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman.

Here is how LUBP looks at Zardari’s insensitivity which was evident at the conference:

Does Pakistan need an interfaith conference?

This can only be understood by looking at the statistics. Whereas Christians and Hindus have as much right to live and operate in Pakistan as the rest of Pakistanis, the question is: How many Christians and Hindus have been killed by Islamofascists led by the likes of the Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ, currently operating as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ)?

The total number of Christians and Hindus killed in Pakistan on the basis of religious differentiation is less than 1,000. Hindu women are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam and Hindu men are abducted for ransom is not an interfaith issue. Both incidents happen only in interior Sindh. There are a few exceptions where Hindu traders were kidnapped in Balochistan. However, the problems faced by the Hindus are confined to interior Sindh.

Christians have fared better than Hindus. In recent years, the only significant anti-Christian incident happened in Rawalpindi where a Deobandi/LeJ-affiliated imam of a mosque accused a Christian girl of blasphemy, but later he was arrested for making a false accusation and the girl was set free.

Another significant point to note is that no government institution has ever been blamed for officially backing crimes against Christians and Hindus, though the infamous attack on the Christians of Toba Tek Singh in Punjab a couple of year ago was planned and executed by the politicians belonging to Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. https://lubpak.net/archives/1313

On the contrary, the Shia genocide is not confined to just one area in Pakistan. From Quetta to Karachi to South Punjab to Kurram Agency to Gilgit-Balistan, there is hardly a place where Shia blood has not been shed with impunity. As many as 21,000 thousand Shias have been killed with impunity. Not a single culprit has been punished. The Shia genocide in Pakistan is facilitated by state institutions like the notorious ISI. The government of Punjab is headed by Shahbaz Sharif who is the patron of the LeJ. The Punjab government provides physical refuge and financial backing to the likes of Malik Ishaq Deobandi. Nawaz Sharif has recently received the SSP leader Mullah Ahmed Ludhianvi with open arms and has inked an electoral alliance with him. Punjab’s Minister of Law who is Shahbaz Sharif’s right hand is not only affiliated to the SSP, has repeatedly taken part in its anti-Shia rallies. The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP/ASWJ) is the political wing of the LeJ, so one can imagine where the bullets cutting down the Shia are coming from and with whose blessing. The web site of Asian Human Rights Commission has amply documented the role played by the ISI in the Shia genocide. https://lubpak.net/archives/244183

Ahmadis, Sunni Barelvis, and anti-Taliban lashkars also face the wrath of the Taliban and the LeJ though their suffering is far less compared to the suffering of the Shias of Pakistan. It must be said here that their suffering is as condemnable as that of the Shias.

Zardari’s anti-Shia stance

We are not talking about his intention and what lies inside his head. However, to all intents and purposes, Zardari is as bad as General Zia in Pakistan and King Fahad in Saudi Arabia when it comes to the Shias. How?

Zardari’s conscience is pricked when Christians and Hindus suffer. But when it comes to the Shias, he is completely silent. In the beginning of his presidency five years ago, he would react to Shia killing through a one-liner, “Muslim cannot do that!” But now he has stopped even doing that. The LeJ kills the Shias at will, but Zardari does not even utter a word. Nor does his PPP issue a statement condemning the Shia genocide. One can certainly forget about Zardari condemning the Saudi role in the genocide and holding the ISI accountable for it.

Zardari’s anti-Shia stance is proved from the fact that in his fraudulent interfaith conference, not a single Shia was invited to tell him and his hand-picked crony spectators what it means to be a Shia in Pakistan today. He has closed his eyes to the very existence of the Shias of Pakistan.

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Shia genocide: Zardari vs Benazir

Had Benazir been alive, she would have joined the Shias whenever or wherever they were killed. That was how she was. She was a person with empathy. She was a very brave woman too. She would have condemned the LeJ and done her best to stop them.

Zardari on the contrary has proved to be extremely insensitive and cowardly. He seems to be obsessed with holding on to his seat, and not to the people who vote for him and die for the part he heads in the name of Benazri and her father.

Zardari, the bunker whistler

No wonder the interfaith conference was held in the presidency. Zardari does not move from there. His official residence is his refuge. This is a metaphor for how cut off from the people he is. Has he ever visited a Shia town where they were killed? Has he ever visited Shia orphans, widows, or elderly who have lost everything? The answer is: NO. Zaradri visits Benazir’s and her father’s graves. Occasionally he visits Shahbaz Qalandar’s grave too. But these are political stunts which are indeed acts of extreme insult to these personalities because in their lives they stood for the masses and their suffering, and died for them.

Zardari lives in a bunker from where he whistles about what ails the minorities like the Christians and the Hindus. The whistle makes no noise about the Shias.

Zardari concluded by saying, “We must extend developmental support to those societies which are faced with interfaith friction or extremism.” What are “those” societies? Zardari wants to give support to all the societies in the world, but has nothing to say about his own society over which he has been presiding for the past five years and has also been witnessing the worst Shia killing in the history of Pakistan.

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  • This man has sold not only the PPP but also deprived the party of its natural constituency.

  • Interfaith conference: President faults global counter- terror approach
    By Agencies Published: February 23, 2013

    “We must act before rationality is completely destroyed,” says President Zardari. PHOTO: AFP
    ISLAMABAD:
    President Asif Ali Zardari has called upon clerics and religious scholars from all schools of thought to help the government check the misuse of the blasphemy law against minorities.
    “We are aware of the misuse of blasphemy law against minorities by vested interests,” the president told the concluding session of a national conference on interfaith harmony at the Presidency. The conference was organised by the ministry of national harmony.
    “We will not allow the misuse of any law against vulnerable groups, including the minorities. I call upon our religious scholars from all schools of thought to consider ways and means to stop the misuse of blasphemy law,” the president was quoted as saying by his spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar.
    Zardari also called for unity and harmony among followers of different faiths for addressing the challenges of extremism and terrorism. The president said he had been pleading with the world that the way the issue of terrorism was being addressed would not lead it to success.
    Referring to the conflict in Afghanistan, President Zardari said more than three decades of war could not bring peace in Afghanistan and that Pakistan was the worst affected by turmoil in its neighbourhood.
    There was time when no one in Pakistan could think of blowing himself up as a bomber as Islam is against suicide, he said. People at that time lived in peace and harmony and there were no sectarian issues but then global politics changed the situation when religion was used as a weapon of war.

    The president said there was a need for adopting the approach of peace and reconciliation to eliminate the menace of extremism and terrorism.
    President Zardari said the world has not yet fully realised the dangerous consequences of using religion as a weapon of war. Now, the world cannot afford to allow anyone to use religion for their vested interests.
    He said it was disturbing to see that the values of tolerance and harmony were fast eroding during present times. Extremists have destroyed peace in the name of religion. Extremism is not confined to any one religion or country. It is s growing the world over and is an alarming trend. “We must act before rationality is completely destroyed,” he warned.
    The president said that the values of tolerance and harmony cannot be divided into Islamic or Christian. Efforts for promotion of tolerance and harmony must be across the religious and geographical divides.
    “We must guard against making exceptions and selectivity. Exceptions and selectivity will not promote harmony. If anything, it will only further increase it,” he added.
    While expressing support for a greater role of the UN in promoting harmony, the president emphasised that we need collective efforts to resolve conflicts and disputes especially where these involve friction between different religions and faiths.
    “We must extend developmental support to those societies which are faced with interfaith friction or extremism,” he said. Such support, he added, should be aimed at poverty alleviation and human development.
    Advisor to Prime Minister on National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti, Justice (Retd) Rana Bhagwan Das and Chairman Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman also addressed on the occasion.
    The conference called for establishing a national council for interfaith harmony consisting of representatives from different faiths. It also recommended formation of local level committees to promote national harmony. It also called for replacing the word “minorities” with some appropriate word like Non-Muslim Pakistanis.
    The conference condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and emphasised the need that terrorism should not be attributed to a particular group, nation or religion.
    Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2013.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/511421/interfaith-conference-president-faults-global-counter-terror-approach/

    War no solution to terrorism: Zardari

    * President says he has told world the way the issue of terrorism is being addressed, won’t lead to success

    * Hate mongers need to be countered with peaceful efforts

    ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday called for unity and harmony among the people to address the challenges of extremism and terrorism and stressed that war was no solution to terrorism.

    Addressing the concluding session of the national conference on interfaith harmony, titled “Living together with diversity – Interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue”, which was organised by the Ministry of National Harmony at the Presidency, Zardari said there was a need to adopt the approach of peace and reconciliation to eliminate the menace of extremism and terrorism. Among others the session was attended by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

    The president said he had been pleading with the world that the way the issue of terrorism was being addressed would not lead to success. “We believe in tolerant Islam and have to counter those who believe in hate, with peaceful efforts,” he stated. Referring to the fight against terror in Afghanistan, the president said more than three decades of war in the country could not bring peace and Pakistan was the worst affected by turmoil in Afghanistan. He said there was a time when no one in Pakistan could think of blowing themselves up as a bomber, as Islam was against suicide.

    Zardari said people at that time lived in peace and harmony and there were no sectarian issues, but then global politics changed the situation and religion was used as a weapon of war. While emphasising on the urgent need for removing distrust among the followers of different religions the president said, “We all must work together to prove wrong those who predict clash of civilisations.” He said the Ministry of National Harmony has been mandated to actively engage in dialogue with scholars and leaders of all faiths.

    Such a dialogue, he continued, was necessary to remove misunderstandings which are the root cause of extremism. Spokesperson to president quoted him as saying that “we are aware of the misuse of blasphemy law against minorities by vested interests.” He said, “We will not permit the misuse of any law against vulnerable groups including the minorities.” “I take this opportunity to call upon our religious scholars from all schools of thought to get together and consider ways and means of how to stop the misuse of blasphemy law,” the president said.

    Speaking on the occasion, Adviser to Prime Minister on National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti said since its inception in 2011, the Ministry of National Harmony took several important steps to promote harmony and interfaith dialogue. He said more than 4,000 scholarships had been given to students hailing from poor families and seats for minorities had been increased in national and provincial assemblies.

    Dr Bhatti said no religion taught violence or extremism. “We should live together peacefully as citizens of Pakistan as envisioned by the Quaid-e-Azam,” he stressed. Retired chief justice Rana Bhagwan Das, addressing the conference, said the challenge of extremism and terrorism could be addressed through unity and tolerance. He said the country was passing through a critical phase and there was a need to take practical steps to promote interfaith harmony. Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Central Mufti Muneebur Rehman read out the declaration of the conference that called for establishing “National Council for Interfaith Harmony” consisting of representatives from different faiths.

    The conference also recommended formation of committees at local level to promote national harmony. It also recommended stopping the use of the word ‘minorities’ replacing it with some appropriate word like non-Muslim Pakistanis. The conference recommended encouragement of interfaith dialogue and steps to be taken by the international community to address root causes of terrorism. It condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and emphasised that terrorism should not be attributed to a particular group, nation or religion. A copy of the declaration was presented to the president on the occasion. app

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20132\23\story_23-2-2013_pg1_1

  • A president is expected to ‘act’ not do lip service. What concrete actions he took to arrest the situation? Appoint Sukhaira as IG Balochistan?