Blogs Cross posted Featured Original Articles

Diversity indicted in Pakistan: the buck stops with President Zardari — by Dr Mohammad Taqi

20130228_24As to the allegations against the PPP’s legislators, the thousands of Barelvis killed and the Shia genocide in Pakistan, the buck stops with President Asif Ali Zardari

Faqeeh e shehr bola badshah se/Barra sangeen mujrim hai yeh aaqa/Isay masloob hi karna parray ga/Keh iss ki soch hum se mukhtalif hai (The city cleric advised the ruler/This person has committed a grave crime/The criminal thus must be crucified/For his views are different than ours!) — Fard-e-Jurm (Indictment).

This short poem by the outstanding Urdu poet Maqbool Amir — a progressive Pashtun from Bannu who died young — just
about sums up the predicament of the Barelvis, the Shia, the secular liberals or for that matter anyone whose thought differs from the literalist interpretation
of Islam, which along with a jingoistic nationalism has become the state
ideology of Pakistan. The clerics, kings and kingmakers continue — through their
terrorist allies — to eliminate anyone who has a different outlook than what
they envision for this country.

To the scores of Sufi/Barelvi shrines
like Rahman Baba, Data Ganj Bakhsh and Abdullah Shah Ghazi that have been bombed
across Pakistan, killing thousands of Barelvis and Sufis, has now been added the
Dargah Hajan Shah Mauri in Shikarpur, Sindh. The shrine was targeted earlier in
the week when a large number of devotees were present. Last week, a prominent
ophthalmologist Dr Ali Haider, and his young son, Murtaza Haider, were brutally
murdered in Lahore. The gruesome murder of Dr Haider — reportedly a Shia by
faith — drew widespread condemnation. Dr Haider’s and before him Dr Riaz
Hussain’s killing in Peshawar, reminded of the string of targeted killings in
the 1990s that left around 70 Shia doctors dead.

President of the
Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) Dr Javed
Suleman and the founder of the organisation’s women’s wing, Dr Humeraa Qamar,
squarely denounced the heinous acts. The APPNA president has pledged to take up
the issue of doctors’ killings at the highest possible level in the US. One
wishes Godspeed to Dr Suleman and Dr Qamar and the physician community at large
in their efforts. But the way the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader
Nawaz Sharif and the Chief Minister (CM) Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who had
gone to condole with Dr Ali Haider’s family in person, conducted themselves
right after leaving the deceased’s house raises serious concerns that the worst
is perhaps still to come.

Referring apparently to the Hazara Town, Quetta
bombing, CM Sharif could not bring himself to say the word Shia as he castigated
the federal government for failure when ‘hundreds of Muslims were martyred’.
Therein lies the rub. Like large sections of the Pakistani media, Mr Sharif also
suppressed the distinct religious identity of the victims of the Shia genocide
as the PML-N spin masters went on television weaving conspiracy theories about
the ‘hidden hand’. It did not appear to be yearning for the ‘unity of the Ummah’
that the CM Punjab — with elder Mian sahib sheepishly quiet at his side — did
not name the victims. The reason for such a gloss over is simple: you name the
victim and you will have to name or at least try to find out who the perpetrator
is. But then Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the chief of the Ahl-e-Sunnat-wal-Jamaat
(ASWJ) — formerly the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) — spilled the beans in a
series of interviews. What Ludhianvi said was nothing new but reconfirmed what
has been said all along, including in this space, that the ASWJ had withdrawn
its candidate in CM Sharif’s favour, getting him elected unopposed from Bhakkar.

Ludhianvi and the PML-N spokesperson Senator Mushahidullah Khan,
speaking on a television show, barely concealed their tacit electoral
arrangement for the general elections later this year. Ludhianvi also named a
slew of politicians from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who had
ostensibly received his support in their elections. While the PPP’s hobnobbing
with the ASWJ is particularly shameful, it still seems to be at district and
constituency level, even though the party did receive the SSP’s support for its
chief minister Arif Nakai in the 1990s. The PML-N, on the other hand, looks like
the chief political patron of the ASWJ, which is but a thin veneer for a Takfiri
creed and its militant wing the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. In his foreword to the
English edition of Mujahid Hussain’s 2012 book Punjabi Taliban: Driving
Extremism in Pakistan, the veteran writer Khaled Ahmed had
written:

“Today, it (SSP) is set to become the behind-the-scenes ruler of
the (Punjab) province with an important nexus with al Qaeda…In Punjab, the
PML-N is securing the electoral ground for a victory in the midterm elections
when they come, by aligning with the Deobandi elements dominant in South Punjab.
Already many of its local supporters in that region belong to the Sipah-e-Sahaba
and its sister outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad, the outfit that fights Pakistan’s
battles with India.”

Hussain’s book, despite some shortcomings, remains
valid today and while one can disagree with Khaled Ahmed on occasion, he was
spot-on in his timely warning. After the Sharif brothers returned from exile,
they seem more beholden than ever to the Saudis — theirs and the Takfiri
jihadists’ mutual benefactors. Contrary to the perception that the Sharif
brothers — at least Nawaz Sharif — is at odds with the Pakistan army, they
appear ideologically in sync with the security establishment and its jihadist
proxies through which the domestic policy against the nationalists in
Balochistan and foreign policy in Afghanistan and India is prosecuted. Little
wonder then that the LeJ terrorists roam free in Punjab and strike at will
anywhere in the country.

Ludhianvi’s revelations designed to project
political clout, however, reflect desperation. His body language smacks of
vulnerability in the face of mounting condemnation of his creed, which is to
make life miserable for the Pakistani Shia as openly professed by his cohorts
Malik Ishaq and Aurangzeb Farooqui. By outing the PML-N for their mutual nexus,
the ASWJ may be trying to force the PML-N to own the alliance openly. Ludhianvi
has effectively put Nawaz Sharif in the dock. Mian sahib still has an
opportunity to come clean and sever ties with an openly fascist outfit.
Otherwise, he may have to share the blame for the atrocities committed by the
SSP and the LeJ.

As to the allegations against the PPP’s legislators, and
more importantly, the thousands of Barelvis killed and the Shia genocide in
Pakistan, the buck stops with President Asif Ali Zardari. Under international
law, a state has the responsibility to prevent and stop genocide within its
boundaries. While indicting diversity, Pakistan might end up getting indicted
for not stopping extermination of its citizens, if not condoning
it.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com and he tweets
@mazdaki

About the author

Taj

Ali Abbas Taj is the Editor of Let Us Build Pakistan.
@aliabbastaj on Twitter

22 Comments

Click here to post a comment