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The joke of free judiciary and media in Pakistan – by Yousuf Nazar

As I watched reports on GEO TV showing relatives of Dr Khalil Chisti eating sweets to celeberate his release in India, I wondered how could our electronic media not highlight that for the last several days,  a beautiful part of Pakistan, Gilgit has been burning , scores have died, cell phone coverage is cut off, and the flights have been suspended.

Most of Pakistan’s media ignored the protest of thousands of Shia Muslims from twin City of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Sunday April 8 when they participated in the Majls Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) sit-in on outside the parliament House in protest against the Chilas tragedy, missing Shia passengers of Chilas incident, Army crackdown against Shia Muslims and Shia killings in Gilgit, Karachi and Quetta.

The scorching heat did not affect the emotional participants of the sit-in protest, who staged protest outside the parliament house against the killings of Shia Muslims in Pakistan and government crackdown against the innocent people of Gilgit City.

“Detesting the oppressors and suppressors and to help the oppressed one is part of our creed,” speaking to the sit-in, Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jafri, MWM’s chief said. He further said that the sit-in would continue as long as all bodies of the martyrs of Chilas Tragedy were handed over to the heirs for interment, lifting of curfew for establishment of a durable peace and elimination of terrorists’ safe-havens.

Shaikh Nayyar Abbas Mustafavi, secretary general of the MWM Gilgit-Baltistan chapter said that government had not honoured its assurance that the charter of demand of Shia Muslims of Gilgit-Baltistan would be implemented.

Allama Ghulam Askari of Punjab chapter said that it is humiliation of humanity that Shia Muslims were got alighted from buses and then killed ferociously and their bodies were not identifiable because of torture on their faces.

Why the groups who have openly acknowledged killing Pakistanis and Muslims have been allowed to operate?  Why the big political leaders are silent? Why the Supreme Court is looking the other way?

If Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry can take notice of a report that a TV actress Atiqa Odho was carrying a bottle of alcohol, is the blood of so many Pakistanis so cheap that he can allow Malik Ishaq, chief of a self-acknowledged terrorist organisation – Laskar-e-Jhangvi to roam around and participate in public rallies?

On February 17, 2012 Chief of banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Malik Ishaq was in attendance at the Difa-e-Pakistan Council rally in Multan, Yahya Mujahid, a spokesperson for the council’s member organisation Jamaatud Dawa told the daily Express Tribune.

Malik Ishaq, the operational chief of LeJ, was released after 14 years by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 14 July 2011.

On November 11, 2011 The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a review application seeking cancellation of bail to Malik Mohammad Ishaq, leader of a banned outfit, in the Sri Lankan team attack case. A two-member bench comprising Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa was hearing the matter at Lahore Registry of the apex court. Earlier, a division bench of the SC had granted bail to Ishaq in the attack case wherein he was accused of masterminding it while in prison. The Punjab government had moved a review application before the apex court to cancel the bail. The bench, however, dismissed it

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi  (LeJ) was formed in 1996 and has operated in Pakistan since Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) activist Riaz Basra broke away from the SSP over differences with his seniors. The group is officially considered a terrorist organisation by the government Pakistan and has been involved in attacks on Shia Muslims.

Basra, along with Akram Lahori and Malik Ishaq, separated from Sipah-e-Sahaba and formed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in 1996. The newly formed group took its name from Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, one of the co-founders of the SSP. LJ’s founders believed that the SSP had strayed from Jhangvi’s ideals. (Jhangvi was previously killed in a retaliatory bomb attack by Shia militants in 1990.)

Riaz Basra gained notoriety when he orchestrated the assassination of Iranian diplomat Sadiq Ganji in Lahore.Basra was also involved in the killing of Iranian Air Force cadets visiting Pakistan in the early 1990s. Both acts occurred in the northern city of Rawalpindi and greatly disturbed contemporary Pakistan-Iran relations.

The Government of Pakistan designated the LeJ a terrorist organization in August 2001.

After Basra’s death in May 2002, Akram Lahori succeeded him as leader of LeJ.

LeJ initially directed most of its attacks against the Pakistani Shia Muslim community. It also claimed responsibility for the 1997 killing of four U.S. oil workers in Karachi. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi attempted to assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif  in 1999. Basra himself was killed in 2002 when an attack he was leading on a Shia settlement near Multan failed. Basra was killed due to the cross-fire between his group and police assisted by armed local Shia residents.

In March 2002 LeJ members bombed a bus, killing 15 people, including 11 French technicians.

On March 17, 2002, two members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi bombed the International Protestant Church in Islamabad during a church service. Five people were killed and 40 people were injured, mostly expatriates. In July 2002 Pakistani police killed one of the alleged perpetrators and arrested four Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members in connection with the church attack. The LeJ members confessed to the killings and said the attack was in retaliation for the U.S. attack on Afghanistan.

Authorities believe Mohammed Aqeel, an LeJ member, was the mastermind behind the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team.

 LeJ claimed responsibility for killing 26 Shia pilgrims on 20 September 2011 in the Mastung area of Balochistan. The pilgrims were travelling on a bus to Iran. In addition, 2 others were killed in a follow-up attack on a car on its way to rescue the survivors of the bus attack.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai blamed LeJ for a bombing that killed 59 peoples at Abu Fazal shrine in in the Murad Khane district of Kabul on December 6, 2011. Most of the dead were pilgrims marking Ashoura, the holiest day in the Shia calender.

The following is a compilation of news reports during 2008-March 2012 of violent attacks against Shias.  Most of these took place in the  Kyber Paktunkhwa, ther Northern areas, and Balochistan. In some cases, LeJ claimed responsibility for the attacks according to the news reports.


March 29: At least five Hazaras were killed and seven others injured when unidentified militants opened fire on their car on Spiny Road in Quetta in a suspected sectarian attack.

February 28: Armed militants dressed in military uniforms killed at least 18 Shias, all men, from Gilgit-Baltistan, on the Karakoram Highway in Kohistan District while they were returning in a convoy from a pilgrimage in Iran.

February 17: At least 40 Shias were reportedly killed while 24 others injured, after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives just near the targeted mosque in the Kurmi bazaar of Parachinar, the main town of Kurram Agency in FATA.

January 25: Unidentified assailants shot dead three members of the Shia Lawyers’ Forum on Maulana Din Muhammad Wafai Road of Karachi in Sindh.

January 15: At least 18 people, belonging to the Shia sect, were killed while 30 others were wounded when a bomb exploded near a procession marking Arbain or the chehlum (40th day) of Hazrat Imam Hussain’s martyrdom in Khanpur city of Rahim Yar Khan District.


September 20: The LeJ militants shot dead 29 Shia pilgrims travelling to Taftan, a town that shares border with Iran, in two consecutive attacks in Ganjidori area of Mastung District and Quetta city of Balochistan.

August 31: A suicide car bomb blast killed at least 11 Shia persons and injured 22 others celebrating Eidul Fitr in Quetta.

July 29: LeJ militants killed at least seven people, including four Shias, waiting to travel to Mashhad in Iran, at Taftan bus terminal on Saryab Road.

Jul 10: Three persons, belonging to Shia community, were shot dead while coming from Qambrani Road in Quetta.

June 22: Three Shia people were killed and nine others got injured when four armed militants fired at a bus carrying Shia pilgrims to Iran in Akhtarabad area of Quetta.

May 25: Four persons were killed and 18 others received injuries in the Balishkhel area of Upper Kurram Agency of FATA ahead of ceasefire agreement between the warring tribes of Shia and Sunni sects.

May 18: At least seven Shia people, including a passerby girl, were killed and six others sustained bullet injuries in an attack near Killi Kamalo area of Quetta.

May 6: Unidentified militants today fired rockets on a group of Shia Muslims in Quetta, killing at least eight and injuring 15 others.


September 1: 43 persons were killed and another 230 injured in two suicide attacks and one grenade attack on a Shia procession marking Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom in Lahore. LeJ Al-alami claimed responsibility for the three attacks that occurred minutes apart in Bhaati Gate locality of Lahore.

July 29: At least 10 persons were killed and their houses set ablaze in sectarian violence in Kurram Agency. Local residents said that men of the Shia sect carried out the attack.

July 16: At least 18 Shia persons were killed while four others sustained critical injuries as their vehicles were ambushed by unidentified militants in Char Khel locality of Kurram Agency in FATA.

April 17: Two burqa-clad suicide bombers targeted a crowd of IDP waiting to get them registered and receive relief goods at the Kacha Pakka IDP camp on the outskirts of Kohat in NWFP, killing at least 44 and injuring more than 70. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Al-Aalmi faction claimed responsibility for the bombings, and cited the presence of Shias at the IDP camp as the reason for the attack.

March 5: Twelve persons, including four women, were killed and 33 others injured when a suicide bomber targeted a Parachinar-bound civilian convoy carrying Shia passengers in Tull area of Hangu in NWFP.

Jan 29: Unidentified assailants opened fire on pilgrims, killing three Shias and injuring seven others, in a sectarian attack in Quetta in Balochistan.


Sept 18:  At least 30 people were killed and more than 50 injured in a suicide attack in the Kohat District of NWFP, most of the victims were Shias and coalminers waiting for buses.

June 23: Three Shias, including a union council chief, were killed in Quetta, the Balochistan capital, by unidentified men in a suspected sectarian incident.

May 25: Unidentified gunmen shot dead three Shia labourers in a drive-by shooting in Dera Ismail Khan.

April 5: April 5: A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of an Imambargah (Shia place of worship) at Chakwal in Punjab province, killing 24 people, including three children, and injuring 140 others, at a religious gathering.

March 3: Five Shias were killed in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, when unidentified assailants attacked members of a family in the city – taking the death toll from sectarian attacks in a single week to 12.

February 24: A Shia trader and three of his sons were shot dead in an apparent sectarian attack in Quetta, capital of Balochistan.

February 20: 32 persons were killed and 145 others injured when a suicide bomber exploded himself in the funeral procession of a slain employee of the Tehsil Municipal Administration  in Dera Ismail Khan in the NWFP. Sources said the funeral procession of local Shia community leader Sher Zaman alias Shera, who was killed in firing by unidentified persons on February 19, was heading towards Kotly Imam Hussain for his Namaz-e-Janaza (funeral prayer) and burial when a suicide bomber ran into the mourners and blew himself up.

January 14: Unidentified assailants killed four Policemen, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police, in a shootout in Quetta, capital of Balochistan. Motorcyclists ambushed a Police team on Sariab Road at around 11am, killing four Policemen. Three of the murdered Policemen belonged to Hazara community and were Shia. The outlawed Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the killings.

January 10: At least 17 people were killed and 30 others injured in the ongoing sectarian clashes in Hangu in the NWFP. Officials said that fighting between the rival Shia and Sunni groups had been continuing since late January 9 while army helicopter gun ships were targeting the warring parties’ positions to control the situation.


December 5: A car bomb explosion outside an Imambargah (congregation hall for Shia rituals) near the Qisakhwani Bazaar in Peshawar, capital of the NWFP, killed at least 34 persons and injured more than 150.

November 25: Eight persons, including six Shias and two Sunnis, were killed and several injured in separate acts aimed at fanning sectarian violence in the Hangu and Kohat districts of NWFP.

November 20: An angry mob torched shops and vehicles and pelted police with rocks in Dera Ismail Khan in the NWFP after a bomb exploded at the funeral procession of a slain Shia cleric. 10 persons were killed and approximately 40 others were wounded in the blast.

October 6: A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of people at the house of Rashid Akbar Niwani, a Shia Member of National Assembly from the PML-N, in Bhakkar, 260-km southwest of Islamabad in Punjab, killing 25 people and wounding 60 others, including Niwani.

June 23: 12 persons were killed in the continuing clash between two militant groups, the Lashkar-i-Islam and Ansarul Islam, in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency in the FATA. Gunmen shot dead eight members from a Shia tribe in the Kurram Agency.

June 16: A bomb exploded inside a Shia mosque killing at least four people and injuring two others in the Dera Ismail Khan district of NWFP.

May 10: Unidentified assailants shot dead three Shia community members in the Dera Ismail (DI) Khan area of NWFP in an incident of suspected sectarian violence.

April 6: Sectarian violence broke out between Shia and Sunni sects in three villages of Kurram Agency in the FATA after a bomb exploded at Khurmana Pul, killing three people and injuring 22 others.

March 21: Four persons were killed and 28 others injured after clashes erupted between Shia and Sunni Muslims during a Nauroz (Persian New Year festival) procession in the Hangu district of NWFP.

January 17: At least 12 persons were killed and 25 others wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in an imambargah (congregation hall for Shia rituals) in Peshawar.

The above list is not inclusive but isn’t this enough for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo moto action and for the government to show some relevance or are we going to hear this again from the PPP apologists that the intelligence agencies are behind these groups and the government is helpless. Perhaps it is, but then honorable course is to resign and seek a fresh manadate. But it should not rule over the dead bodies of its own citizens.

Courtesy: State of Pakistan