Peshawar Blast

This week, a suicide attack ripped through a Shia-centric mosque in Peshawar during Friday prayers, killing more than 60 people and injuring almost 200 others. In the aftermath of this horrific event, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing, making it one of the biggest attacks carried out by the group inside Pakistan.
This attack, at the heels of a recent uptick in violence across our Western border, is being viewed as a reaction to Pakistan’s international realignment. Specifically, it has been argued (with good merit) that such violence is indicative of India’s growing frustration in the region, after the defeat of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan. The State of Pakistan claims that these attacks are also an attempt, by inimical forces, to jeopardise Pakistan’s growing regional footprint, and in particular Pakistan’s reinvigorated efforts concerning international cricket, CPEC projects and other similar initiatives.
That may be true, to a large extent. However, such narratives must not be allowed to diminish the specific and targeted plight of the Shia community, which stems from a singular article of their faith—Hub-e-Ali (A.S.). The Shia community was being targeted in Pakistan much before the latest reset of the global power structure. And (if unattended) Shia plight is likely to continue much after the regional Great Game is finally won or lost.
Violent attacks, from Parachinar to Sehwan Sharif to Noorani Shah to the streets of Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar, reflect a systematic killing of Shias across Pakistan, by organisations and individuals who continue to slip through the (purposefully) porous grasp of our law enforcement agencies. In fact, according to official statistics, since 2001, more than 7,000 Shias have been targeted and killed in Pakistan.
The systematic genocide of Shias in Pakistan usually occupies no more than momentary space in our news cycle. Majority of our nation, and its political elite, feign concern over such killings, up until the next press conference by some two-bit politician captures our attention. And just like that, the coffins stretched across the streets of Peshawar, or the plight of Hazaras of Quetta, fade into the criminal recesses of an impotent society.
Why is the killing of peaceful Shia citizens no longer a soul-wrenching episode in Pakistan? More pertinently, why is the killing of Shia (and other religious minorities) a mere inconvenience for our polity, deserving no more than a token statement of meaningless condemnation? Why is our political, military, and judicial leadership mute on the systematic elimination (genocide?) of anyone who beats his chest to the call of ‘Ya Hussain (A.S.)!’?
Why is it that (despite the killing of Malik Ishaaq) our counter-terrorism efforts have never expanded to specifically focus on organisations such as SSP, LeJ, and ASWJ? Why do individuals like Maulana Ludhianivi, or his cronies, continue to find space within the corridors of power? Why are militant leaders, who openly propagate the killings of Shias, allowed to actively participate in the public and national discourse? Why does ‘Kafir Kafir, Shia Kafir!’ continue to be graffitied across our urban and rural centres? Why have the madrassas and organisations that actively incite hatred against Shias, been bestowed with State land in Karachi? Why are leaders of such organisations given political protection in Punjab? Why is their evil dominion tolerated in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad?
There can be no denial of the fact that the State of Pakistan does not care much about the lives or security of Shias. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that our State and its institutions are complicit in the killing of Shias. Despite thousands of innocent deaths, there has never been any action, suo moto or otherwise, by the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the killing of Shias. As coffins lay on the streets of Quetta and Parachinar, no judicial or political conscience was jolted into action. No sustainable military action was specifically initiated against Sunni militant outfits. And the few (powerless) individuals, who had the moral integrity to voice support for the Shia community, were quickly silenced under threat of violence and retribution.
A careful look at our national paradigm would reveal that Shias are not welcomed in the stratosphere of our State’s decision-making process. Despite almost 20 percent of Pakistan’s population being Shia, a far smaller fraction finds itself in the national and provincial legislatures. Even lesser are inducted in the Cabinet. Fewer still are part of the bureaucratic and Khaki top-brass. And hardly any one is elevated to the superior cathedrals of justice in our land.
There is an unspoken bias against Shias being inducted within our corridors of power. And the few Shias who, from time to time, have made their personal mark in the fields of medicine, academia, literature or law, have (for the most part) been targeted through a systematic effort to eliminate their influence in our society.
If we were to pause for a moment, and ask ourselves as to why the Shias are being massacred in our land, there would be no answer forthcoming. We would realise that there is no event in our national or Islamic history that justifies hatred towards those who believe in the infallibility of the Prophet (S.A.W.W.) and his progeny (A.S.). In fact, even a cursory reading of history or religion would make it painfully clear that, over the past thirteen hundred years, hub-e-Ali (A.S.), even when it was silently professed, was met with violence and militancy. And, in the present day and age, this militancy is at its fiercest in Pakistan.
Here is the truth: even if all the Shias, across the world, were to be shot, at a point-blank range, Hussain Ibn-e-Ali (A.S.) would be the Haq and Yazid would be the Baatil. Even if hub-e-Ali (A.S.) were to be declared a crime (nay, a sin!), in every jurisdiction across the world, the love of Ahl-e-Bayt (A.S.) will remain (according to Quran and Hadith) the eternal key for the hereafter. Even if all the Shias were to drop dead, this very moment, Imam Mahdi (A.S.), the last surviving son of Ali Ibn-e-Abu Talib (A.S.), will usher in the final reckoning.
And when that happens, as it must, those who killed Shias, those who supported this barbarity, those who remained silent, those who looked the other way, and those who did not come to hear their plight, will be made to answer. And there, before the Seat of Eternal Power, our worldly excuses and callous indifference, will find no favour.

Saad Rasool

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt