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Daily Times, the latest pen-killer of Shia Hazaras of Quetta – by Ali Muntaziri

Pakistan media usually promotes the agenda and discourse of military establishment.

Update/Editor’s note: Op-ed editor of Daily Times has now apologized and assured to be extra careful in the future. We appreciate this gesture and hope the mainstream media will publish factual and sympathetic articles on Shia Hazaras, one of the most persecuted and target killed community of Pakistan. The exchange on Twitter is reproduced in the comments section below.

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Daily Jang’s long held stature as the military establishment’s top media ally has been thrown into jeopardy all of a sudden. There is a new candidate for the throne in town, albeit, new only in butchering facts and replacing them with outright fallacies. The victims are not new, however, it’s the Shia Hazaras of Quetta who find themselves on the receiving end of misrepresentation again.

But this is no minute propaganda, mind you, the article published in Daily Times today (written by Surat Khan Marri) is so replete with factual lies that it would have made Joseph Goebbels a very proud man.

A community besieged and terrorized at the hands of religious fanatics should normally expect some sort of solace from the educated elite of the mainstream press. I, for one though, have long let go such hollow expectations because the more one believes in the transparency of Pakistan’s electronic and press media (both Urdu and English press), the more likely are the chances for the person to end up in sheer bewilderment as to how such an insulting written piece finds its way into one of the leading newspapers in the country.

Surat Khan Marri, an ISI mole or an LeJ-Taliban operative?

What adds to my utter inconvenience is the fact that the writer of this outrageously unrealistic article claims to be a Baloch, whose community has always found an able supportive friend in Hazaras during the entire course of their struggle against the injustices that they have been targeted with. Read Mr. Surat Khan Marri’s written piece, then reread and then reread again, still, the search for a single instance of truth would prove futile. Quite contrary to the claims that Hazaras are the beneficiaries of the Balochs’ miseries is the reality that both communities continue to be the subjects of genocide at the hands of a ‘common enemy’.

Let me be blunt, the military establishment kills and abducts the Balochs and the military establishment kills Shia Hazaras, of course with the use of its strategic assets-LeJ- in this case. The Balochs and Shias (both Hazara and non-Hazara Shias) should counter this collective genocide together, any such notion that tries to create animosity between the two should be quashed left, right and center, be it one from a Hazara or a Baloch.

Let us start from today and from this piece of trash published by Daily Times. Whatever economical, educational and social progress the Hazaras have made while being in Pakistan is a testament to their hard work, dedication, patriotism, determination and willingness to move forward as a developing community unlike some others who have a sense of pride in sticking to their cave houses and guns and illiteracy. Anyone who puts pen to paper in order to repaint history with lies should be ashamed of oneself. While such attempts fail audaciously in tainting the glorious reputations of Shia Hazaras, they serve only to unveil the hatred and bias that exists within some people.

I don’t normally dwell into conspiracy theories, but the notion that the Military-Mullah-Media alliance is fully bent on pitting the local communities of Balochistan against one another is as legit as they come. On the one hand is the exceedingly naive assertion that majority of the terrorists of LeJ/SSP, killers of Shia Muslims (including Shia Hazaras), are local Balochs. While on the other hand are the nonsense claims linking innocent Shia Hazara youth with the assassination attempts on Sunni scholars. Most people might not discern the grave consequences of reactions once people of Balochistan start believing in these lies but allow me to state that disaster will ensue. As yet, though, sanity has prevailed and any such propaganda has been met with strong negative response on all fronts. May the truth seekers continue to emerge victorious from every battlefield.

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Jehangir Hafsi

19 Comments

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  • Copy of the hate article published in Daily Times:

    Saturday, June 23, 2012

    Balochistan: sectarian strife or Hazara community targeted? — Surat Khan Marri

    When General Musa became the governor of West Pakistan, he declared the Hazaras a local tribe of Balochistan through an ordinance

    The Hazara community may claim to be descendents of the Great Khan of the Mongols or a remnant of the Mughals/Mongol conquerors of India via Afghanistan. However, in their recent abode, Afghanistan, they are considered and treated as of low-caste, compelled to work as sweepers and clean latrines, like some Christians in Pakistan and Harijans in India. In Afghanistan, they are in a considerable number, maybe half a million, but in Afghan challenges or wars against the British, Russians, the recent resistance termed as the war on terror, American and NATO aggression, the Hazara community in Afghanistan has no role. Afghans blame them for collaboration with the US and Pakistan.

    About a century and a half ago, a large number of Hazara boys and girls were kidnapped, brought to Baloch areas and sold as slaves. Somehow, maybe in search of relatives, they developed contacts with their people in Afghanistan. These interactions and contacts were also helpful for exchange of experiences. They found Baloch heterogeneity and liberalism quite amicable. Henry Pottinger, in 1810, about his experiences with the Baloch contacts says in his Travels, Sindh and Balochistan that Baloch treatment of weak neighbours, even of slaves, was surprising. Usually they treat the weak, workers and even slaves as equals, and they were seen eating together with these people without discrimination. Authentic authorities on anthropology enumerate the characteristic of Baloch heterogeneity among others — federal, autonomous, hierarchy, equality, consultation, etc, with civic nationalism that projects tolerance and acceptability. It is quite easy to become a Baloch without any consideration of caste or creed, religion or tongue. This Baloch tradition and behaviour attracted more and more Hazaras from Afghanistan to migrate to Balochistan. Hazaras, though treated in Afghanistan as low caste citizens, are strong-built and hard working. In Balochistan during their initial migration during the British period, railway lines were being laid down and construction of roads was started to link Afghanistan to India via the Bolan Pass near Quetta and Loralai/DG Khan.

    Historians believe that Afghan diplomacy and the art of survival are unmatched. Throughout history, they were in the neighbourhood of three superpowers: Russia, British India and Persia (Even today, they are dealing with 48 big powers, such as the US and Europe, and not on good terms with other neighbouring countries, including Russia). In spite of all this, observers say, the Afghans are dealing with their affairs very intelligently. Although the Hazara community is the weakest among Afghans, their farsightedness and art of survival are stronger in comparison. On their migration to Balochistan, they enjoyed and felt comfortable living in a Baloch liberal and heterogeneous society. However, they soon realised that power and the future lay somewhere else. They allied themselves with British employers and camp followers and had friendly relations with local Baloch-Pashtun collaborators. On the British leaving the subcontinent and Balochistan in 1947, power in Pakistan was transferred to Punjab. Being a Karachiite, M A Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan and the early days media controllee, the mohajir (Urdu-speaking) also got their due share. The present polarisation and power grouping is a recent development of the Generals’ politics — Zia to Punjab and Musharraf to the Urdu-speaking area. In Pakistan, the Punjabi/Urdu-speaking camp followers, who later on called themselves settlers, represented the new partnership of power of Punjab and the Urdu-speaking. The camp followers, the new power in Balochistan, already had good relations with the Hazara community. Because of their (Hazara’s) allegiance to the new power, the rulers were of the opinion that this minority may replace and fill the vacuum created by the departure of the British army gurkhas. The Pakistan army started recruiting a large number of Balochistan-based Hazaras, some of whom rose to the rank of general — General Musa being one example; brigadiers ( Brigadier Sharbat), and other high ranks. Among these Hazara officers, quite a number of them were inducted in the Balochistan Civil Service posts of commissioner, deputy commissioner and secretaries. All these high officials from general to lower level civil officers proved their gift for community conscience. Wherever a Hazara officer was posted, he recruited more people in the services from his community, creating heartburn in the local Baloch and Pashtun. When General Musa, after retirement as commander-in-chief of the Pakistan army became the governor of West Pakistan, he declared the Hazaras as a local tribe of Balochistan through an ordinance. It meant that anybody crossing the Afghan border automatically becomes a local of Balochistan, where tribesmen have all citizenship rights.

    Another factor of Iranian patronage to the Hazaras created more anguish to local Baloch-Pashtun bad feelings. Iran wanted to use the Hazara community as a pressure group against Baloch nationalists and separatists. Iran’s financial help and through an easy approach to Iranian smuggled products, the Hazaras were dominating business in Quetta city, which created a sense of rivalry in the Pashtun business community. They also annoyed Baloch nationalist political workers when they started buying lands in Baloch areas on a large scale. Initially, the migrated Hazaras were settled in Quetta’s eastern suburb, near Murdar (Mehrdad) Mountains called Marriabad. Slowly, the locals allege, they strategically started settling in the western suburb near the Chiltan Mountains, chasing away people from all other communities. Today, in both the eastern and western suburbs near Murdar and Chiltan, Hazara settlements have become a no-go area for other communities. In the early 1990s, Nawab Khair Buksh Marri pointed out the Hazara political economic spread with Iranian patronage, specially buying lands in Baloch areas. Instead of any positive remedy, a campaign of media statements targeting the Nawab started. As usual, and because of his (the Nawab’s) tradition, he avoided indulging in media controversies.

    The situation worsened and aggravated when Iranian pilgrims during Hajj attempted to occupy a corner of Bait-ul-Allah Sharif at Mecca. The entire Hazara community is said to have joined Iranian Shias. Observers say that the Saudis sharply reacted and started funding and provoking a Wahabi tendency amongst Sunnis. Recently, an Iranian TV channel, Press TV, in its telecast, was openly blaming the Saudis’ stated involvement in Shia killings.

    However, in Balochistan, a large number of other communities, such as Urdu-speaking, Punjabi, and even Baloch Shias live. None except for the Hazara community has so far been targeted. Generally, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi accepts responsibility for such acts, as many in the Lashkar and Sipah Sahaba are local, mostly Baloch. However, observers do not rule out a soft corner of the Taliban who are Sunni and have a tendency of Wahabiism also being involved in attacking mazaars (mausoleums). As stated, the reaction was the result of the Hazaras’ target killing a number of Sunni ulema and pesh imams. Mostly they were locals, both Baloch and Pashtun. All fingers point to Hazaras for the target killings of the Sunni ulema. Some observers believe that in the Hazara and local rivalry, the involvement of politics and electioneering cannot be ruled out. However, the government, both federal and provincial, does not seem to be much bothered. That may result in encashment of the aggravating situation to divert attention from the deteriorating overall law and order situation, other fundamental issues and national crises.

    The writer is a freelance columnist

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\06\23\story_23-6-2012_pg3_4

  • The way the puppet writer tried to distort the facts and reality clearly imitates his mindset and agenda of his masters behind this disgusting piece of writing. Unlike other secular and nationalist Baloch writers he seems to be deeply affiliated with the proscribed outfits. But let me make it clear that ‘Daily Jung” and “Daily Times” will never ever get success to divide the brotherly tribes of Balochistan on the basis of ethnicity or sectarianism as everyone is now well aware of these conspiracies as well as the elements behind them. Everyone knows who is behind the bomb blast in Dar-ul-aloom and IT University Bus and what are their motives. Thanks to social media that unfolds the conspiracies and brings real faces to public as it did with writer of this article.

  • The writer has tried to distort the facts. He tried to justify the genocide. Many urdu and punjabi shias are also murdered in Baluchistan. for the last four years I dont remember any sunni pesh imam or aalim is killed in Quetta or elsewhere. Recent blast in madrasa is rivalry between JUI F and JUI Nazariyati Group. Moulana Fazal ur Rehman hs been escaped almost two bomb blasts.

  • Op-ed editor of Daily Times has now apologized and assured to be extra careful in the future.

    Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri
    @MehrTarar is op-ed editor at Daily Times. She may care to explain why an anti-Shia, anti-Hazara article was published today.

    Mehr Tarar ‏@MehrTarar
    @AbdulNishapuri we don’t print anything against any faith.Different perspectives yes.I edit articles.There is a pro hazara article on Mon. And I hope you would apprciate that.No intention of hurting or offending anyone.Thanks

    Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri
    @MehrTarar Intention not in question. Based on feedback we have, Shias incl Shia Hazaras are deeply hurt, offended by that insensitive piece. Here’s a reaction by a local Shia of Quetta @AliAMuntaziri http://shar.es/sllfj. Apology is in order. cc @mazdaki @KamranShafi46

    Mehr Tarar ‏@MehrTarar
    @AbdulNishapuri @AliMuntaziri @mazdaki @KamranShafi46 My most sincere apologies…No hurt or ridicule intended. Hve many close Shia friends whse faith’s sacred to me.Truly regret th inadvertent hurt. My most sincere apology.Pls convey them to yr friends.

    Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri
    @MehrTarar Your honesty is much appreciated. Will convey your feedback to concerned friends. @AliAMuntaziri @mazdaki @KamranShafi46

    Mehr Tarar ‏@MehrTarar
    @AbdulNishapuri Pls do. Will be extra extra careful next time. Thank you for your concern, passing it on, and accepting my regrets.

  • well the hatred in the writing of writer can easily be seen but let this be clear that there are some enemies of pakistan from inside and outside who are trying to break war with in pakistan among different communities we are brothers and will always be no matter i m a hazara,baloch,pashtunor pnjabi we are one as long as pakistan is one

  • We appreciate appology from Editor of Daily Times but infact, the appology should come from the writer.

  • indeed surat khan marri has written one of the finest piece of writting. very much informative indept analysis. one can not get better than this….. well done surat khan marri….

  • @ abdul alim, You are absolutely right, he should be awarded the “best writer of this century”…

  • @Ali Mardan what was wrong with it he definitely has brought out truth, its sourity may have dwindled you but it transpires the reality which needs to be accommodated across your mental blockades and to understand the situation in actual.

  • the writter has barked levish.he the stupid can never define my great nation.the editor had better taken care before. the writter demonstrated his immaturity,stupidity …… we r proud to be hazara.we r killed bcoz we r the best ,u dnt deserve to take our name.ur writting is as wrong as if we say the sky is black,so dnt want to comment that where where u r wrong,its all against facts,

  • The article written by Soorat Khan Marri, a retired officer of Press Information Department-PID Quetta, Ministry of Information,Government of Pakistan has issued an ISPR press release with his Byline instead of indicating press release…

  • It seems that soorat khan marri is totally unaware of the overall history of hazaras in general and in Balochistan in particular. Whatever he has written against hazaras is based on his biased mind set in support of some oral coversations, discussion and proppaganda agains hazaras. An aware and civilezed person must feel pitty, ashamed and must be disappointed that we have a “Writter” like Sourat khan mari.
    We extremely condemn what he has written about hazaras .

  • @abdul alim .. What is truth? you and your writer don’t know at all. It is my kind advise for you and your favorite writer to get out of your artificial shell, broaden your knowledge and better to read some history for future comment.

  • Whatever economical, educational and social progress the Hazaras have made while being in Pakistan is a testament to their hard work, dedication, patriotism, determination and willingness to move forward as a developing community unlike some others who have a sense of pride in sticking to their cave houses and guns and illiteracy. Anyone who puts pen to paper in order to repaint history with lies should be ashamed of oneself. While such attempts fail audaciously in tainting the glorious reputations of Shia Hazaras, they serve only to unveil the hatred and bias that exists within some people.

  • Soorat Khan Marri, ex-Director PID Quetta, has made unsuccessful attempt to distort history, but such jealous attempt cannot paint the history. His biased and prejudiced attitude towards Hazaras is surely due to his observing visible progress of Hazaras who have made as result of their hard work. His article seems nothing except his abnormality of his approach and insanity of his mind

  • after reading the article on 23 Jun 2012, by Mr. Surat Mari. One is at loss, the article was to support or ridicule the Hazaras? The article was praise to Baloch society? Or to gain the support of others for his cause? The text did not relate to the heading of the article. A total confusion. Few facts, Hazaras like other people from afghanistan came to British India in search of jobs, and went to near and far areas as Quetta , Loralai, Zhob, Parachinar, Bombay , Assam and Burma . They were part of broad foot sappers in 1st Anglo-afghan war. Baloch tribes also were part of the same force in 129 Balochistan light infantry (Jacobs own),so make out who was collaborator. They settled in large numbers in Quetta (then part of British Balochistan) in later part of 19 century, once their home land was subjugated by AbdurRehman. A sappers and miners unit, 106 Hazara Pioneers, was formed in British army in 1903. Hazaras were decleared a local tribe in 1962 by commissioner Quetta along with Yousafzai, Nasar and Nurzai tribes, and not by General Musa (Then CNC Pakistan Army). These facts can be checked from the Quetta district Gazetteer. As their population grew they bought land for housing and did not chase any one out. How can a smaller community chase out more numerous and powerful community? A malicious accusation in the present charged environments. The writer needs to check the historical facts before writing an article, with distorted facts. In his hatred, he has bundled Hazaras, Christians, Dalits, Punjabis, Muhajirs (Urdu speakers) and Pashtuns together. In current Baloch inurgency, who needs an enemy in the presence of friends like Mr. Mari. By the way in morning once he comes out of his house, please check the sanitary worker (sweeper) of Quetta municipality; he may be his name sake.
    Qambar Ali
    Quetta

  • i wondered if an educated individual can deny the facts of history.from the atricle of his highness surat khan marri and his like minded like mr abdul alim in comments i could deduce few things…
    1..surat khan must have a degree that Nawab Raisani best describe.
    2..PID balochistan to me means he had never been loyal to his job in Baluchistan Secretariat,,so a haram khor.with apologies from all secretariat officials.
    3..a stink of hatred from the pen of a puppet who could not compete with his HAZARA co-ordinate.
    4..he and mr abdul alim is a bone-head thinking from the bones of their feet rather than searching the lies on-line and then opening their venomous beaks.