Original Articles

Progressive journalists’ silence on Shia genocide in Pakistan: Name and Remind Policy

Not unlike Nazi Germany's silence on holocaust, there is a culture of collective silence on Shia killings in Pakistan.

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The Shia Muslims in Pakistan are the most targeted faith group in terms of sheer numbers.

In the first 50 days of 2012 (from 1 Jan to 20 Feb), more than 100 Shias have been massacred through target killings, bomb attacks and suicide attacks; a greater number badly injured and maimed.

For example, here is an account of attacks on Shia Muslims in January 2012. https://lubpak.net/archives/70763

Here is a recent report by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on Shia killings in Pakistan: https://lubpak.net/archives/71694

The following articles explain how and why ISI-backed Jihadi-sectarian militants are targetting Shias.



What has made the situation even worse is the media blackout. Aside from some very few exceptions, the media has mostly ignored or misrepresented the ongoing Shia genocide all over Pakistan. For example refer to the following articles:





This tendency is even more pronounced amongst the more liberal and progressive sections of the media. Again barring the very few exceptions, this segment is no different from the generally pro-Jihadist media when it comes to highlighting the plight of the Shia Muslims in Pakistan.

A combination of apathy, ignorance and subconscious anti-Shia bias ensures that even the liberal-progressive segments of Pakistan’s media mostly ignore this topic. Aside from a token tweet or once a year vague article, the number of articles that honestly present the ongoing genocide of Shia Muslims is an indictment of anti-Shia bias in that segment of the media that should ideally have been forebearers in protesting Shia killings.

Based on readers’ feedback, both private and public, we are compiling a list of names of anchors and columnists who can be effective voices in highlighting the ongoing Shia genocide in Pakistan. Many of them are very talented writers who have written against the military establishment. Therefore, it is both surprising and hugely disappointing that they have not dedicated a column or TV program to those who have been the first in the firing line of the Jihadists since 1978.

Of course we don’t expect pro-military establishment, pro-Taliban, right wing anchors and columnists to cover Shia genocide in their columns and talk-shows due to obvious reasons. We, however, expect progressive and liberal columnists and anchors to give due coverage to Shia killings which otherwise remain ignored or misrepresented in Pakistan’s mainstream, electronic and print, media.

In particular, we have high expectations from the following progressive columnists, anchors and human rights champions:


1. Nasim Zehra (Columnist, TV anchor)
2. Najam Sethi (Columnist, TV anchor)
3. Sana Bucha (Columnist, TV anchor)
4. Ayesha Tammy Haq (Columnist, TV anchor)
5. Farrukh Khan Pitafi (Columnist, TV anchor)
6. Nusrat Javed (Columnist, TV anchor)
7. Maria Memon (TV anchor)
8. Irfan Hussain (Columnist)
9. Abbas Nasir (Columnist)
10. Mohammed Hanif (Columnist)
11. Nadeem F. Paracha (Columnist)
12. Marvi Sirmed (Columnist)
13. Omar Waraich (Columnist)
14. Ejaz Haider (Columnist)
15. Fasi Zaka (Columnist)
16. Omar Quraishi (Columnist)
17. Muhammad Taqi (Columnist)
18. Yasser Latif Hamdani (Columnist)
19. Farhat Taj (Columnist)
20. Mosharraf Zaidi (Columnist)
21. Feisal Naqvi (Columnist)
22. Sana Saleem (Columnist)
23. Shehrbano Taseer (Columnist)
24. Shakir Hussain (Columnist)
25. Cyril Almeida (Columnist)
26. Tazeen Javed (Columnist)
27. Mehmal Sarfraz (Columnist)
28. Raza Rumi (Columnist)
29. Kamran Shafi (Columnist)
30. Gibran Peshimam (Columnist)
31. Huma Imtiaz (Columnist)
32. Saba Imtiaz (Columnist)
33. Bina Shah (Columnist)
34. Ayesha Siddiqa (Columnist)
35. Saroop Ijaz (Columnist)
36. Umar Cheema (Columnist)


1. Beena Sarwar
2. Awab Alvi
3. Ahsan Butt (Five Rupees)
4. Arif Rafiq (Pakistan Policy)
5. Pakistan Media Watch
6. New Pakistan
7. Cafe Pyala

Human Rights Activists

1. Ali Dayan Hasan
2. Mustafa Qadri
3. Zohra Yusuf

Data to be maintained and regularly published:

Name of Journalist/Blogger/Activist: Date of attack: Total Shias killed : Total Shias injured : Column written (Y/N) : Detail of Column : Covered in Talk-show (Y/N) : Detail of Talk-show : Honestly Represented (Y/N)

We have started maintaining this data from 1 January 2012 onwards. Realistically, we do not expect columnists and anchors to cover each incident of attack on Shia Muslims. However, we suggest they should think about covering this topic in a column or talk-show after every 10 Shias killed. We hope we are not asking for too much.

Of course, we expect progressive authors to cover all major massacres (e.g., Khanpur attack on 14 January 2012 killing 34 Shias, or the Parachinar massacre on 17 February in which at least 46 Shias were killed), which is not only their ethical duty but also professional responsibility.

Name and Remind Policy

The present Name and Remind Policy is inspired by the Australian Government’s legislation which requires employers to report progress on gender equality in employment. “The reporting requirements for employers include gender composition of their boards, and against a set of gender equality indicators relevant to outcomes for women and men in the workplace. CEOs and employee representatives are required to sign off on the reports, which are to be accessible to employees and shareholders. Non-compliant employers are liable to be named in Parliament and more widely.”

While we don’t have any legal authority, we hope our ethical reminder to progressive journalists, bloggers and human rights champions will help them in performing their duties in an honest, ethical and professional manner.

Readers’ feedback is most welcome and we hope that the complaint that the progressive liberals do not care about the ongoing Shia killings in Pakistan is proven wrong.

Kia tum bhool gaye? Pakistani media’s silence on Shia genocide

About the author

Jehangir Hafsi


Click here to post a comment
  • Don’t give us false hope, LUBP.

    We know you will never do that.

    A liberal fascist can never expose another liberal fascist.

  • sar765 @y2raza
    bcz A) most of them hold prejudices against Shias and B) they dont want bad things to happen to them, case in point Wajahat !

  • Mussalman ko chahiyay k india jaye darul uloom deobund may.
    Hum tou idhar hee hain or batil say muqabila kartay rahay gay.
    We dont need journalist speaking for us. We know that in the end they are yazid’s apologist.

  • I have written about the security + humanitarian crisis in Parachinar in the past and will also be writing about this most recent Shia massacre in the city. It is though not easy to express in words the full scale of the atrocities against shias in Pakistan in general and in Kurram in particular.
    Farhat Taj

  • No question in this survey by Express Tribune on Shia genocide and media’s silence:


    News media ethics and credibility survey
    The Express Tribune aims to discover which media practices Pakistanis perceive to be ethical, and find out which news mediums/groups they feel are most credible. Please fill out the following questions!

    What is your age? *

    What is your sex? *

    How many hours of news (online/print/TV) do you consume per day? *

    Are you a journalist/involved in news media? *

    In general, do you feel that news is reported responsibly in Pakistan? *

    To what degree does the news media influence your opinion/actions? *

    Have you ever felt offended by a news story/TV report? *
    Have you ever made an official complaint or signed a petition against a media group that has behaved unethically? *
    Do you feel the government is effectively regulating media in Pakistan? *
    Not sure
    Which of the following statements do you feel GENERALLY apply to Pakistan’s news media: *
    (check all that apply)
    Pakistani media spreads negativity
    Pakistani media is sensationalist in nature
    Pakistani media is honest and truthful
    Pakistani media is sponsored by political parties
    Pakistani media provides perspective
    Pakistani media is independent
    Pakistani media does a good job as watchdog
    Pakistani media is sponsored by agencies
    Which of the following do you think constitutes unethical media practices: *
    (check all that apply)
    Interviewing rape victims
    Investigating the personal lives of politicians
    Publishing parts of personal emails/SMS
    Investigating a company’s private documents for corruption
    Taking a photo/video of people in a public place
    Using ‘anonymous sources’ in a story
    Photographing/interviewing children
    Interviewing people facing trauma/personal loss
    Not identifying yourself as a journalist during interviews
    Using hidden cameras/audio recorders
    Receiving external funding for programs/coverage
    Rate the following news mediums in terms of how credible you feel they are: *
    Very credible
    Mostly credible
    Somewhat credible
    Rarely credible
    Not credible
    News websites
    Blogs & Social media
    Rate the following news channels in terms of how trustworthy you perceive they are:
    [optional question]
    Very trustworthy
    Mostly trustworthy
    Somewhat trustworthy
    Rarely trustworthy
    Not trustworthy
    Geo News
    Express News
    Samaa TV
    Dunya News
    ARY News
    Dawn News
    Aaj News
    Rate the following newspapers in terms of how trustworthy you feel they are:
    [optional question]
    Very trustworthy
    Mostly trustworthy
    Somewhat trustworthy
    Rarely trustworthy
    Not trustworthy
    The Express Tribune
    Daily Times
    The News
    The Nation
    Pakistan Today
    Roznama Express
    Rate the following TV show hosts in terms of how trustworthy you feel they are:
    [optional question]
    Very trustworthy
    Mostly trustworthy
    Somewhat trustworthy
    Rarely trustworthy
    Not trustworthy
    Talat Hussain
    Mubasher Lucman
    Jasmine Manzoor
    Meher Bukhari
    Sana Bucha
    Hamid Mir
    Kamran Khan
    Najam Sethi
    Kamran Shahid
    Shahid Masood
    Javed Chaudhry


  • Faiz Ahmed Faiz said:

    jo zulm pe lanat na karay, aap laeen hai
    jo jabr ka munkir nahin, wo munkar-e-deen hai

    (Cursed are those who don’t curse the tyrant. Those who don’t defy oppression, defy God.)

  • salam ya huissain a.s
    ya sub yazeedi soch wali is faikar ma ha
    k is tarha k hat kando say
    hum ko daba dain gay
    magar in ko ya pata nahee ha k Ali (a.s)
    walay is say nahe dabtay ha
    zoloom pair zoloom ha bar jai tu mait jata ha
    kon pair kon ha baihta ha tu jam jata ha

  • i hate
    Mubasher Lucman
    Jasmine Manzoor
    Meher Bukhari
    Sana Bucha
    Hamid Mir
    Kamran Khan
    Najam Sethi
    Kamran Shahid
    Shahid Masood
    Javed Chaudhry
    and all other laeens
    nd i also hate
    GEO network
    ARY network
    SAMA net.
    WAQT net.
    nd all other lantis

  • Pakistani anchors can not offer prayers atleast one time a day
    Pakistani Female anchors came to screen without rida how they raise their voice against Shia Killings in Pakistan?
    they all dogs and bitches in my view.
    why Shias are wajbul-Qatal?
    why these anchors are not?

  • […] Editor’s note: In the following rare op-ed, in fact first by any Pakistani columnist on the Kurram massacre (17 Feb 2012), Dr. Mohammad Taqi highlights that the catastrophe in Kurram Bazaar of Parachinar did not end just with the bombing by a Haqqani Taliban footsoldier. The paramilitary forces (FC) deployed there then attempted to crush the protestors agitating against the militant-military connivance with live ammunition, killing at least 6 more Shias. Dr. Taqi’s column is also a polite reminder to human rights organizations, politicians and journalists (columnists, anchors etc) who remain disturbingly silent on the ongoing target killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan. […]

  • beena sarwar ‏ @beenasarwar
    Those with fake ids take extremist, hard lines to provoke others (who can be identified & targeted) to take extremist views – double agents?

  • This rare honest piece in Dawn explains that Pakistan’s progressives are no better than the right-wing


    Reacting to the reactionaries
    Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

    THE systematic, cold-blooded murder of 16 Shia passengers on a bus in Kohistan this past Tuesday elicited the by now typical reaction from progressives and reactionaries alike; the former denouncing the rising tide of ‘extremism’ and the latter blaming the ‘enemies of Islam’.

    The rites of passage having been administered, we will all hold our collective breath and await the next massacre, after which condemnations and obfuscations can begin all over again.

    That many even in the progressive camp have become so dehumanised to political violence has at least something to do with the media barrage to which we have all become so accustomed in the short span of a few years. The absence of a genuine political alternative to status quo further deepens the sense of helplessness that afflicts many who are otherwise committed to social change.

    Notwithstanding the ability of the media to shape public opinion and political attitudes, I, for one, do not believe that all is lost.

    If more of us spent less time wallowing in self-pity about the raging mullahs, or wishing that the Empire really was serious about ridding the world of suicide bombers, a viable political alternative might still be constructed in less than a generation. But that is a separate matter entirely.

    What I believe a much wider cross-section of progressives can and should agree on is the need to generate a substantive body of empirical information about the context within which the right-wing does its bidding.

    In short, it is necessary to move beyond moral indignation, speculations on the inner workings of the establishment and musings on regional geo-politics and try and elucidate the sociological bases of right-wing political organisations.

    This is necessary both to understanding the extent to which the mullahs have actually succeeded in making zealots out of ordinary people, and relatedly to developing meaningful long-term strategies to redress xenophobic trends. It goes without
    saying that much of the wind will be taken out of the religious right’s sails the day our establishment stops its (selective) patronage of Islamist militancy.

    By this I mean not only discontinuing the use of militant organisations as tools of strategic policy but also a fundamental revision of the official narrative that finds its way into our school textbooks and popular media accounts.

    Such transformations await the emergence of the political alternative to which reference was made above. Until such an alternative does come to the fore, much can and needs to be learnt about the economic and cultural spaces occupied by the right and how these spaces are either being expanded or shrunk.

    First and foremost, the religious right is heavily patronised by moneyed commercial classes. The rise of the contemporary brand of Islamist organisations can be traced back to the 1970s when trading and merchant segments were becoming
    increasingly bigger economic and political actors in Pakistani society.

    The close link between the Zia regime and urban commercial classes has been documented, but the link between the latter and
    the religious right has not been emphasised in the same measure by scholars and media persons alike.

    It is not by accident that traders’ associations in the majority of urban centres tend to be at the forefront of the plethora of ‘defence of Islam’ campaigns that litter our political landscape.

    Second, and relatedly, the religious right does not, by any stretch of the imagination, represent the poor and downtrodden segments of society. The fact that many right-wing organisations — particularly of the military variety — have in their fold a
    large number of foot soldiers hailing from the subordinate classes should not be taken to mean that the right’s rhetoric of emancipation actually appeals to a wide cross-section of underrepresented and excluded segments of society.

    In fact, it is amongst the toiling classes that the attraction of the right seems to be diminishing most rapidly.

    Third, the urban professional, salaried classes are the right-wing’s most important political constituency. Historically, it has been lower-middle class folk with Urdu-medium backgrounds that have tended towards right-wing causes but a more affluent,
    English-educated segment is increasingly being drawn to reactionary populism.

    The lower middle class has traditionally been drawn to organisations such as the Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamaatud Dawa whereas the English-speaking constituency, in keeping with its liberal lifestyle choices, seeks more a more palatable rightist politics.

    Hence it is flocking in droves to the new kid on the block — Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI).

    The upper middle class Pakistani diaspora has also evinced a liking for the PTI, which may or may not last given the overall anti-politics attitudes that prevail amongst this class.

    More generally Pakistanis living abroad have always donated generously to right-wing organisations, although many believe rather innocently that they are contributing to ‘welfare’ initiatives being undertaken by charity groups. In fact, it has now been
    definitively established that the religious right fronts numerous NGOs with no overt links to their parent bodies.

    Needless to say, these broad generalisations have to be put into their proper context. There is, for example, negligible support from within the Baloch middle class for religious organisations, and the Baloch diaspora is at the forefront of a militant
    movement of the secular, ethno-nationalist variety, as opposed to the millenarian type.

    In similar vein, the Urdu-speaking middle class in urban areas of Sindh is implicated in the distinct right-wing politics of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

    The point that needs to be emphasised is that there is much more to the politics of the right than just an unholy nexus between the establishment and militant organisations.

    Neither should the brutalisation of society by right-wing forces overwhelm progressives to the point of intellectual paralysis.

    The story of the religious right in Pakistan is a long and complex one, and intertwined with a wider story of social change.

    If we take seriously the need to understand and tackle the phenomenon which is all too simplistically called ‘extremism’, we need to outline a clear agenda which prioritises both intellectual inquiry and political action. Identifying the social bases that have both facilitated and resisted rightist politics over time is only the tip of the iceberg. Continuing to react to the
    reactionaries will not make them go away.

    The writer teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.



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