Original Articles

Toxic influence of senior columnists on young writers in The Friday Times – by Irfan Qadri

The Friday Times, edited by Najam Sethi (the 80-20 mix fame) and Raza Rumi (who is also a Director of ISI-backed Jinnah Institute), continues to misrepresent State-sponsored Shia genocide as Sunni vs Shia sectarian violence.

Latest issue of The Friday Times offers an example of toxic influences of Najam Sethi and Raza Rumi (who misrepresent ISI-sponsored Shia Genocide as Sunni vs Shia sectarian violence) on young writers.


The author “All hail my sectarian God”, an urban young writer (namely Kiran Nazish), does not at all know about Shia genocide in 1988 in Gilgit under the patronage of Pakistan army, nor is she aware of the Deep State dimensions of Shia genocide in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

For Kiran and other young writers, here is a summary of Shia massacre in 1988:

Reference to Shia genocide in 1988 is not aimed at hurting anyone, but it is being made to prevent one brother from cutting the throat of the other by getting trapped in the intrigue of the common enemy. The 1988 genocide started apparently from an simple incident happening but the then military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq had made full preparations for it. On one hand General Zia had entrusted his minister Qasim Shah with the task of giving temptation and provoking anti-Shia hatred in the people of Diamer, while on the other, he misled the U.S. and other influential European countries by saying that Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan are Iranian stooges who are and anti-US and anti-Europe. As instructed by the military dictator, Qasim Shah started anti-Shia hate propaganda, that Sunnis are being massacred and women were being dishonoured in Gilgit etc. Such accusations had nothing to do with the reality. The Pakistan government (in fact Pakistan army) succeeded in giving practical shape to its conspiracy at the time, when General Zia instigated Afghan Muhjahideen and brainwashed Jihadi Pashtuns, working under the supervision of Pakistan army, by giving them the temptation of Jihad (Crusade) booty and rewards, for attacking Balawaristan (Gilgit Baltistan). When these invaders entered Diamer under the protection of Pakistan army and F.C., it took along some local people also, who forced local Shias taking shelter in Bonji cantonments to change their sect. The village of Jalalabad near Gilgit was rendered to ashes by setting ablaze it alongwith the live stock and trees. People of Bonji, Darot and other several villagers were displaced. There was heavy loss of life on both sides. Finally the assailants were sent back by the army on their arrival close to Gilgit city, in view of the threat of Indian interference to save local Shias of Gilgit Baltistan from further massacre. Later, local Shias were given a meagre compensation, but nothing was paid to Sunni kins. Once again, the military state wanted to keep the artificial sectarian issue alive. Pakistan’s mainstream media, both Urdu and English press, kept a complete mum on the 1988 Shia massacre. This included numerous foreign correspondents in Islamabad writing for BBC, The New York Times, Guardian, Time etc.

The writer (Kiran Nazish) claims that in Pakistan “some of the worst and the most real and physical crimes that people commit against each other in this country are based on religion” but fails to explain why such sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias does not exist in India and Bangladesh among other countries. She does not at all address the issue of state patronage and protection available to Jihadi-sectarian militants (Ahle Sunnat Wala Jamaat, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Taliban etc) by Pakistan army and its proxies in judiciary and media.

As a context, here is an example of numerous pieces published by the Jinnah Institute and The Friday Times which serve to misrepresent Shia genocide in Pakistan and mislead young writers and activists.

Here is another example of how Najam Sethi uses 80-20 mix to dilute Shia genocide in Pakistan

Sethi used Sunni-Shia sectarianism terminology to hide the fact that ASWJ-SSP terrorist represent their mentors in Pakistan army, not Sunni Muslims.

Blaming Sunnis for target killing of Shias and blaming Shias for persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims is a disservice to not not only persecuted and target killed communities (Shias, Ahmadis) but also to the peaceful majority community (Sunnis). Lumping all Sunnis into one group, presenting ISI-backed Jihadi-sectarian criminals (ASWJ-LeJ-Taliban) as Sunnnis, is an agenda which is commonly shared by ISI, Najam Sethi, Raza Rumi and other dubious persons in Pakistani media.

Recently Omar Waraich mentioned on Twitter how “Meher Bokhari takes a swing at Fawzia Wahab in death-recalls how she got angry at 1 of her questions”


In essence this is not much different from Marvi Sirmed (an affiliate of Raza Rumi, Najam Sethi and Ejaz Haider) who took a swing at Shias (“The Shia Community”) in the midst of their ongoing massacres holding the Shia community responsible for legislation against Ahmadis: https://lubpak.net/archives/73587

My advice to young writers. Think twice before accepting and recycling the lies and propaganda published by pseudo-liberal writers. Their analyses are no less biased and toxic than their right wing partners.

About the author

Jehangir Hafsi


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  • Thank you, Mr. Irfan, for writing on this much ignored topic. Let’s hope Ms. Kiran and other young writers see light and accept this criticism in a positive manner.

  • By Kiran Nazish

    All hail my sectarian God

    40 97

    In Pakistan a mosque is not the house of God, but the house of a sectarian God. Although Muslim sects across the world have their own separate mosques for the reasons of Imamat, procedure and methodology of prayers, no one is ever stopped from entering a place of worship or called a Kafir inside one just because they do not come from the same sect.

    Recently, I was told by a non-Sunni friend how he was tormented by fellow worshipers at a Sunni mosque during Friday prayers. He was on the road and getting late for jamaat (congregation), so he went for the nearest mosque he could find – only to discover later that he was a Kafir for doing so. He was identified as a Shia when he did not raise his forefinger for Shahadat during the prayers.

    We are led to believe that Pakistan is divided by its provincial politics, and our biggest insecurities come from India and the US, but some of the worst and the most real and physical crimes that people commit against each other in this country are based on religion. It is our pride in sectarian exclusivity that has valiantly strengthened our dissections. We sideline our minorities as people, because we fear them and they fear us. The only one being we trust and fight for is our exclusive sectarian God.

    Sectarianism divides our politics, our military, our media and even our militant groups. Eventually our people divide themselves.

    We have sectarian terrorist groups that are out to kill Shias and Ahmadis, so as to ensure their specific God’s name is saved from the “evil of these sects”. The most recent example of this phenomenon is the killing of over 200 people in sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan on 28th February and 3rd April – including the selective slaughtering of more than a 100 Shias in one go.

    Looking for political mileage, Imran Khan blamed the PPP government for the violence in a statement on April 7. If at any point in this country’s history, any politician had been genuinely concerned about sectarianism, we would not have been in the state we are in.

    In Gilgit-Baltistan, where Shias and the Sunnis once had intermarriages, community gatherings, and common hospitals and schools, they have separated their areas with precise boundaries. They cannot even use the same roads, markets and streets, let alone mosques. The entire politics of the region are sectarian based.

    Before partition, sectarianism was almost unidentifiable. Much of this could be because of the influence of Sufis and Pirs, but people were generally peaceful. In the contemporary Pakistan, things started changing and the sectarian divide increased between the 1950s and 1970s. It all started with the identifying of Ahmadis as non-Muslims, on which both Sunnis and Shias strictly agreed. Then a few Shia-Sunni clashes took place, but they seemed more politically driven and people remained genuinely peaceful amongst themselves.

    It was in January 2005 when Agha Zia-ud-din Rizvi, the popular and respected Shia cleric got killed that people were outraged and a real animosity was seen amongst them. Grave fear ran through the entire region. Sunni mosques were attacked, and there was an outburst of gunfire in different areas. Gilgit’s polo ground was so volatile that army and paramilitary troops were called to cordon the area off and search for weapons. About 35 arrests were made, before Section 144 was imposed. But the arrested suspects were later allowed to go. And that is where the problem lies. Every time any arrests are made in G-B, the culprits are either facilitated in the escape, or are officially released. Both Sunni and Shia communities suffer because justice is not served.

    The second major issue is with the discourse. Every time there is violence and bloodshed, our intellectuals indulge in rants, discussions, op-eds and research papers on sectarian violence. There has been no study on what actually compels people from the same country and the same religion to kill each other.

    Since the media are not very efficient in the region and editors are based in bigger cities, there is a disconnect between the news desk and the on-ground situation. That allows for biased reporting, or in many cases, misreporting.

    When I compare the statistic of killings since the 1980s, I find a very close link between retaliatory Sunni killings in small tribal areas and Shia killings in major cities. In the case of Gilgit-Baltistan, Hangu and Parachinar – where Sunnis are in minority – Sunni killings are never recorded or reported, which makes it a challenge for anyone like me to even cite them.

    Shia killing are on a much greater scale and frequency but to understand what really exaggerates sectarianism in any place, is it not important to take into account both sides of the story? I have spoken to dozens of Shias, Sunnis and Ismailis from these areas, and they all have one thing in common – the fear of the other. Many families in G-B who have had Shia-Sunni intermarriages before the conflict worsened in the 1980s, have sent their children out to other parts of the country or abroad, because they feel threatened from both sides.

    Political negligence, lawlessness, military regimes, and terrorist attacks have caused sectarian hatred among the people, and we have started to worship our own sectarian Gods rather than one God.

    Yes, we wept with our Ahmadi brothers in the 2010 carnage, but we are still out to get them in schools, colleges and workplaces. We do cry over Shia killings in tribal areas, but still have no space for them in our mosques.

    I would end with an excerpt from a poem called Psalm by Iranian-born German poet SAID.

    stay by me
    even if I nourish myself from ashes and salt
    be still and listen to that name
    which I lend to you
    because I want to distinguish you from the idols
    grant me patience to endure those who are vain
    with their empty words
    and the converts
    who are zealous to confirm their opposite
    and grant
    that my waiting be full of revolt

    Kiran Nazish is a journalist and activist. She is currently researching on difficult issues and areas of Pakistan. She tweets @kirannazish


  • Posts such as this one which expose and confront the ISI-esque propaganda of Sethi et al make LUBP a pariah in their eyes and but bring me close to this blog.

    Thumbs up…

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