We are very disappointed to see misrepresentation of Shia genocide in Pakistan in at least four articles in a recent issue of The Friday Times (March 02-08, 2012 – Vol. XXIV, No. 03). If Pakistan’s apparently progressive or liberal columnists in English press are obfuscating and misrepresenting systematic attacks on Pakistan’s Shia and Sunni Sufi Muslims at the hands of the Jihadist-state sponsored Deobandi terrorists, what can be expected from the pro-Taliban, pro-Jamaat-e-Islami right wing columnists in Urdu press?
Clearly, authors and editors at The Friday Times (TFT) have taken lead from their Editor in Chief Najam Sethi who himself was found misrepresenting Shia genocide in Pakistan only a few days ago on Geo TV’s Aapas Ki Baat (Talk Show). The details can be read at the following link: https://lubpak.net/archives/73439
Such a view dishonestly blames Sunni Muslims for violence against Shia Muslims and vice versa. It also shows a false neutrality and false binary between the systematic and indiscriminate massacres of Shia Muslims and acts of violence against Sunni Muslims. We urge TFT editors to consider the fact that majority of Pakistan’s peaceful Sunni Muslims have dissociated themselves from Deobandi ASWJ-SSP terrorists: https://lubpak.net/archives/71673
Saleem Javed’s article on “Hazara persecution” misrepresents Shia persecution and genocide as an ethnic one and misquotes the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)’s general warning to Shia Muslims across Pakistan by confining it to Hazara Shias only. This is what the author wrote: “Banned militant outfits have threatened to make Pakistan “a graveyard for the Shia Hazaras” and have asked them to leave the country by 2012.” Of course, the author carefully hid the fact that the LeJ’s warning is explicitly against all Shia Muslims of Pakistan and that LeJ is a sectarian, not an ethnic, terrorist organization. The author hides two facts: (1) Shias of not only Hazara ethnic but of all ethnic origins are being killed in Balochistan, (2) Massacre of Hazara community cannot and must not be seen in isolation from the ongoing Shia genocide taking place in other parts of Pakistan.
Saleem Javed’s article is very implicative particularly when it refers to Sariab Road to give it Hazara vs Baloch ethnic colour. (Previously, TFT published another misleading article on this topic in which Khaled Ahmed presented false binaries of Hazara Shias and Pasthun Taliban.) Indeed if Hazars are being killed due to their ethnicity, then the author should also disclose which ethnic group is killing them? This ethnic angle serves neither Hazaras nor Shias but serves the interests of those who are interested in covering up the ongoing Shia genocide in Pakistan.
Saleem Javed’s article also has a very serious charge against Iran. The author writes: “In a single incident in 1998, Iranian forces killed more than 630 refugees, mostly Hazaras, in the Safed Sang Camp detention center.” This charge, however, has not been substantiated. Is there any statement by any human rights group (HRW, Amnesty) or United Nations to support this allegation? We have many complaints against Iranian theocracy including its very poor record on free speech and human rights, yet this is a very serious charge published by The Friday Times without any proof. If this charge remains unsubstantiated, it will show that the TFT has conveniently recycled and spread the Saudi-US inspired propaganda.
Critical readers are aware that Iran and Iranian-patronage is often used as an excuse to spread further hatred against Pakistani Shias. Defaming Iran legitimatises Shia killing in Pakistan, SSP-ASWJ does that. Now progressive journals such as TFT are using the same discourse?
Pakistani Shias are routinely stereotyped by SSP-ASWJ-Taliban and establishment-touts (Ejaz Haider etc) as Iranian agents. In fact, SSP-ASWJ leader Ludhianvi describes his participation in Difa-e-Pakistan as Difa (defence) against USA, India and Iran. Iranian connection or label is then used to misrepresent Shia genocide in Pakistan as a proxy-war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iranian label is also used to reinforce the othering and hatred against Pakistani Shias. This leads to further target killing. Saddam used to do that, by describing and ridiculing Iraqi Shias as Iranian agents. Same tactic is used by autocratic anti-Shia regimes in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait etc. Ejaz Haider (of the Jinnah Institute) used the same technique in an Express Tribune article in 2011 to justify the target killing of Shia Hazaras in Quetta by painting them as Iranian stooges. Now, The Friday Times has done the same by blaming Iran to be responsible for the murder of 630 Hazaras which has two effects. It dishonestly highlights the ethnic nature of Hazara genocide in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere which is anything but true. Further, it throws bad light on Iran and by stereotypical association on Pakistani Shias, thus obfuscating and justifying their genocide.
We encourage TFT editors to understand that certain agents of Pakistan’s military establishment have been tasked to distort and misrepresent the Shia genocide to give it an ethnic colour. For example, the following article explains how such agents work: http://pakistanblogzine.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/abdul-khaliq-hazara-and-the-ethnic-cleansing-narrative-by-marya-mushtaq/
Also please refer to the list of non-Hazara Shia Muslims killed by SSP-LeJ-Taliban in Balochistan to understand that Shia genocide in Balochistan and elsewhere is not an ethnic issue: https://lubpak.net/archives/64797
Do TFT editors know what’s common in Shia Pashtuns, Shia Hazaras, Shia Punjabis, Shia Muhajirs, Shia Saraikis, Shia Sindhis, Shia Balochs etc? Have they read the SSP-LeJ’s fatwa against Shia Muslims, particularly those of Parachinar and Quetta?
Ali Chishti’s article (The Al Qaeda connection) is relatively better because it not only highlights the target killing of Shia Muslims by ASWJ-SSP terrorists but also shows that a large number of moderate Sunni Barelvis too have been killed by the same group of extremist Deobandi terrorists. However, Chishti needs to clearly highlight the fact that Shia genocide is being enabled by a military state which supports Jihadi-sectarian militant groups of extremist Deobandis. He needs to stay away from the sectarian violence or sectarian fault-lines discourse which is both misleading and obfuscating. He also needs to acknowledge that a significant number of non-Hazara Shias too have been killed in Balochistan for their Shia beliefs.
In the same issue, TFT also published an article by Zia Ur Rehman, titled ‘Battle for Kurram’. The article presents false neutrality between the well documented establishment-Taliban-ASWJ’s blockade and genocide of Shia Muslims of Parachinar (Toori Pashtus) with Shias’ legitimate defence to save their lives, honour and property from the army-backed Haqqani Taliban (and their Punjabi ASWJ-SSP supporters). The article also uncritically recycles the estabslishment propaganda about an imaginary Shia terrorist group Haideri Taliban. Zia-ur-Rehman writes:
The only known Shia militant group is the Mehdi Militia (sometimes called the Haideri Taliban), consisting mainly of Turi tribesmen. “The group has large public support among Shias in Kurram and is concentrated in the upper Kurram area of Parchinar and Ziayran,” according to a report published by Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS). Their opponents say the group is supported by allies in Iran and Afghanistan.
Did you notice the dirty word “Iran” again to justify and obfuscate Shia genocide in Kurram? Recently, Jang Group too published the same ISI-esque propaganda about Haideri Taliban by holding the group responsible for a recent bomb attack on a bus station in Peshawar. Upon strong protestations by Shia and other rights activists, Jang retracted the ill-intended report and rendered an apology, which can be read here: http://pakistanblogzine.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/jang-group-the-news-retracts-its-isi-inspired-report-on-haideri-taliban/
In his article in the current issue (Violent Sectarianism), Raza Rumi refers to vague terminology, sectarian violence or sectarianism to presents a simplistic and inaccurate account of Shia genocide in Pakistan:
The recent rise in sectarian killings, for instance, is a continuation of the trends already gathering pace in Pakistani society from the 1980s. They indicate the growing retreat or failure of state and law enforcement agencies against the expanding power of militant groups that deploy guerrilla tactics to achieve their goals. Sectarianism in its contemporary manifestation, therefore, cannot be delinked from the larger growth of Pakistan-based terror groups and their alliance with the global Jihadist project negotiated by the loose conglomerate known as Al Qaeda.
Clearly, Rumi does not recognize that more than the failure of state and law enforcement agencies, it is the active support of Pakistani state (read Pakistan army) to anti-Shia Jihadi-sectarian groups which is enabling an ongoing and systematic Shia genocide. More than Al Qaeda or Taliban, the blame rests with those who created, mentored and treated AQ, Taliban and other Jihadi-sectarian organizations as their strategic assets!
Rumi refers to Muhammad Amir Rana’s vague data related to sectarian violence and fails to provide any statistics at all in terms of total number of Shia Muslims killed in 2011 or in previous years.
One line comment on Rumi’s article is this placard in Urdu in a recent Shia protest against genocide: http://www.dardistantimes.com/sites/default/files/story_images/Gilgit-Kohistan-18-Shot.jpg which clearly describes that Pakistan army’s Jihadist policies are responsible for systematic and ongoing target killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan.
What’s common in Najam Sethi, Hamid Mir and Raza Rumi’s discourse? All three of them describe Shia genocide as sectarian violence! This is where the apparently progressive writers (Sethi, Rumi, Haider) and known Taliban apologists (Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi etc) converge.
Almost all of the articles published on Shia genocide in the current issue of the TFT refer to vague and false neutral terms: sectarian fault lines, sectarian violence, sectarianism. This is utter non-sense. It is now amply documented and established that Shia genocide by the Jihadist-generals-sponsored ASWJ-SSP-Taliban terrorists must not be misrepresented as sectarian violence. It is well established that majority of peaceful Sunnis reject and disown ASWJ-SSP terrorists. Therefore, presenting Shia genocide as sectarian violence is an intellectual dishonesty. In a similar vein of dishonesty, media used to call frequent ambush of Talibans on Shias of Parachinar, Hangu and DI khan as “Tribal feud”.
We encourage TFT editors and other media persons to read Saroop Ijaz’s bold and clear article on Express Tribune (4 March 2012) on this topic. Saroop writes:
The Shia Muslims are being systematically murdered in Pakistan. Use the word ‘genocide’ and people would begin to protest and bring forth the dustiest of legal definitions. ‘Ethnic cleansing’ is slightly less contentious and is now occasionally being used in the case of the Hazara and other Shia. Reflect on the full import of the term for a moment, it has the implication that some people are merely filth and murder is a way to cleanse the impurity. Repulsive thoughts; are they not, but this is the mindset that is plainly looking us in the face. It is not ‘sectarian strife’ or ‘conflict’, since that would presume the existence of at least two parties with a semblance of parity. The euphemisms would be silly and disingenuous at all times, but what makes them wicked is that it is either fear or prejudice which leads to their usage. To admit or be open to the possibility that the Shia are being slaughtered through an orchestrated scheme, in a country with the second-highest Shia population in the world is to be open to the realisation of just how deep the rot has spread.
Apparently, by painting Shia genocide as routine sectarian violence (barring a few one line caveats here and there), the current issue of The Friday Times serves to deflect the responsibility of Shia genocide in Pakistan from the real killers: i.e., Pakistan army, which has recently enabled further Shia genocide through the tacit support to the Difa-e-Pakistan Council comprising anti-Shia Jihadi-sectarian terrorists.
More than one authors in TFT’s issue under review have cited research by Muhammad Amir Rana, director at Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) to provide a flawed and dishonest account of Shia genocide in Pakistan. Of course the terminology used by Rana himself is vague, sectarian violence, and that’s not without a purpose. Rana does not provide the exact data on total number of Shias killed and lumps up all deaths in one block and one terminology. His sense of history is as flawed as that of other proxies of Pakistan’s military establishment.
Here is a sample of Rana’s research reported in Shahzad Raza’s article in TFT:
According to PIPS statistics, 314 people were killed in 111 sectarian related incidents of violence in 2011. The advent of violent sectarianism in Punjab, Rana recalls, dates back to the assassination of Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, a Deobandi religious leader from the district of Jhang. A killing spree that began in reaction still continues in one way or the other.
The above paragraph shows how intensity and scale of Shia genocide is covered up. For example, refer to this vague line: “314 people were killed in 111 sectarian related incidents of violence in 2011.” Now compare this to the Amnesty International’s clear data (revealed on Twitter by Mustafa Qadri of Amnesty) that at least 276 Shia Muslims were target killed in 2011 in Pakistan, this figure does not include many other deaths which remain unreported or unverified. Do you see the difference?
Also any researcher who dates back Shia genocide to SSP’s terrorist leader Haq Nawaz Jhangvi’s death is either dishonest (a sold out soul) or incompetent. Where will Rana hide the fact that the systematic genocide of Shia Muslims in Pakistan started in Therhi, Khairpur (Sindh) when at least 118 Shia Muslims were butchered by armed Deobandis on 6 June 1963 during the rule of Pakistan’s first military dictator General Ayub Khan? Where will he hide the fact that the recent wave of violence and target killing started in the aftermath of the Saudi-funded, ISI-handled recruitment and training of Jihadi-sectarian militants for the so called Jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir?
This is how TFT resorts to false neutrality to justify and obfuscate Shia genocide: “What we have seen recently is the ruthless targeting of Shia doctors,” Rana says. “In response, Shia groups kill lawyers and leaders of their rival groups.” (Shahzad Raza cites Muhammad Amir Rana).
Really? Would Rana equate Palestinians’ violence to the State atrocities by Israel against Palestinians? Would he compare and equate Kashmiri militants struggle with the disproportionately violent response by the Indian State? Can a few, very few acts of violence or resistance by Shia Muslims against ASWJ-SSP militants (enemy combatants) be equated with the State-sponsored Jihadi-sectarian groups’ indiscriminate violence against Shias? Are Shia Muslims indiscriminately targeting Sunni Muslims the way they are being indiscriminately killed by SSP-ASWJ-Taliban terrorists in their Muharram processions, mosques, markets and offices? Apparently, these questions do not mean much for TFT editors!
The issue under review of TFT is a sombre reminder that Pakistani media is an accomplice to genocide of Shias and other persecuted and target killed groups in Pakistan.
We want to assert that Hazras are killed because they are Shia not because they are Hazras. Any attempt to hide the Shia identity in turn hides the real motives of the LeJ-SSP killers and enables further Shia genocide. Moreover, those who are killing Shia Muslims in Pakistan don’t represent Sunnis. This is not sectarian violence. This is Jihadist-establishment sponsored terrorism.
We hope TFT will stop publishing propaganda which gives Shia persecution and target killing an ethnic color. Similarly, anyone who describes target killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan as a routine sectarian violence contributes to misrepresentation of Shia genocide by the establishment-sponsored Jihadi-sectarian militants.
We will welcome all genuinely representative research on Shias, Ahmadis and other oppressed groups and urge Pakistan’s urban elites, including those in English media, to consider engaging with genuine Shia, Ahmadi, Baloch, Pashtun activists before writing “on” them?
Ahmadiyya Muslims’ reaction:
Ahmadis on Twitter have strongly reacted to misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the anti-Ahmadi legislation at least in one article (by Raza Rumi) in the current issue of TFT. The article was also published in Ejaz Haider led Jinnah Institute’s misleading report on extremism in Pakistan. Raza Rumi writes with respect to second amendment in Pakistan’s constitution: “The amendment did not explicitly mention the Ahmadi community and has been used by hardliner Sunni clerics to also target the Shia community in Pakistan.”
Here are a few comments from Twitter:
Never was the 2nd Amendment in Pakistan’s constitution used by the State of Sunni clerics against Shia Muslims as claimed by Raza Rumi in his TFT article. The article serves to save the strategic assets of the Army aka LeJ and blame it on legislation for Shia Killing
The article presents the author as a supporter of the status quo, and the misrepresentation of second amendment is tantamount to hijacking the Ahmadi cause
Two major English media groups today published dishonest reports/articles against Ahmadiyya Community! Sheep in wolf’s clothing!
Mr. Raza Rumi writes that the second amendment was used against Shia Muslims and Ahmadis were not the only target. This is factually wrong. Very very deplorable stance. Author must have read the Law himself before scribbling!
The second amendment is specifically anti-Ahmadis. It has nothing to do with or against Shia Muslims. Shia Muslims are being targeted by the Strategic Assets of the Pakistani Punjabi Army, not by the second amendment.
Will @AhmadiyyaTimes @Al_Ufaq #PakistanBlogzine, #LUBP and #FridayTimes publish an article against this dishonesty twitpic.com/8qy2yq
Text of Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan. “A person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of The Prophethood of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), the last of the Prophets or claims to be a Prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad (Peace be upon him), or recognizes such a claimant as a Prophet or religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or law.”
Naeem Shamim @naeemshamim
Misrepresentation of #ShiaKillings and using the Ahmadi Persecution pedestal for it is a shameless act!
Sohaib Mengal Baloch @MirSohaib
@najamsethi justified kill and dump in Balochistan in his last night’s show. Calls it national interest.
Naeem Shamim @naeemshamim
@MirSohaib @najamsethi and this morning published a piece in his TFT magazine that is full of lies
Selective Morality is the common heritage of all Fake Liberals of Pakistan!
Blame the Shia killings on a law that is purely against Ahmadis and save the Army’s Strategic Assets! That’s Raza Rumi’s Logic?
Instead of naming the true killers of the Shia, TFT tried to hijack the Ahmadi Persecution cause
Mullahs in the Urdu Print/Electronic media , Mullah-like creatures in the English media!
Raza Rumi has let many of us down today! Now thats what makes the so called intelligentsia of the Islami Jamhooriya!
The Friday Times must publish an apology for this blunder! Must not allow such nonsense to get published
Update: We appreciate the fact that Raza Rumi has now revised his article by amending/inserting the following line: “The amendment explicitly targetted the Ahmadi community but has also been used by hardliner Sunni clerics to target the Shia community in Pakistan.” However, no such amendment was possible in the print version of TFT and also previous report published by the Jinnah Institute. We look forward to Ahmadi Muslims response to this editing. At the same time, we stand by our concerns about grave misrepresentation of Shia genocide in numerous articles in TFT. We expect that TFT will retract the misrepresenting articles and offer an apology to Pakistan’s Shia, Sunni Barelvi and Ahmadi communities.
Editorial team of The Friday Times
Managing Editor & Publisher
Harris Bin Munawar
Adapted from: Pakistan Blogzine