By Asad Gokal
The faith-based killing of Shias spiked in Pakistan amidst a vile hate campaign against the community in Muharram this year. Four men were gunned down in different parts of the country within two weeks.
The ongoing wave of sectarianism in the country initiated with blasphemy charges leveled against a Shia reciter for reading a ritual prayer, Ziarat e Ashura. Following the event, dozens of Shia members were booked in blasphemy charges and Shia orators detained.
The first incident of Shia killing occurred in the city of Kohat where Qaiser Abbas was shot dead, in a suspected sectarian attack on September 6th. CCTV footage shows that Qaiser was eating at his shop when unknown assailants opened fire at him.
The proscribed organization, Sipah e Sahaba (SSP), along with other extremist Sunni groups including TLP and JUI held three consecutive anti-Shia rallies on the weekend starting 11th September. Thousands of protestors marched chanting slogans of “Shia Kafir” (Shias are infidels) while demanding a ban on the Muharram processions, which are arranged to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, an immensely significant religious rite for the Shia community.
The SSP protestors attacked a Shia mosque (Masjid e Imamia) and threw stones at the walls where quranic verses and the names of the Holy personalities were written. In another rally, the participants of banned outfits raised slogans glorifying Yazeed, the man who butchered Imam Hussain and his family. The after-effects of these three massive anti-Shia rallies were observed right after.
In Kohat, two men belonging to the Shia Community were killed inside a medical store near Peshawar Chowk on 15th September. One of them, Irtiza, was the owner of the medical store whereas the other, Syed Mir Hasan was a prominent Shia of the city. Both the martyrs hailed from Hangu.
In Mandi Bahaudin, Alamdar Hussain was gunned down and shot dead when he was returning from the Fajr prayers at a local mosque on the 13th of September. Alamdar was the permit holder of the annual procession and had recently registered complaints to the city administration against the rapid increase in anti-Shia activities. A few days before his murder, MPA Punjab Assembly and leader of ASWJ, Muavia Azam Tariq, delivered a fiery hate speech in which he incited violence against the Shia community of the city. Neither was any action taken against the hate speech nor were the operations of the militant outfit monitored, which led to the targeted killing of Alamdar Hussain.
Chief of ASWJ, Ahmed Ludhyanvi, had threatened in his tweet that his men would take law in their hands if due action is not taken against the accused blasphemer. While four Shias lost their lives in the current wave, dozens were injured in various incidents where Shia processions were pelted with stones in various parts of the country.
The rallies taken out all over the country by the banned outfit ASWJ are in direct violation of the Anti Terrorism Act, Protection of Pakistan Act as well as the National Action Plan which disallows any proscribed outfit to operate in the country. They were facilitated by the administration nonetheless.
An atrocious approach of the aforementioned terrorist outfit included a variety of tactics and they have pushed the Shia community of Pakistan to the corner in terms of life security. Unfortunately the law failed to come into action against them.
A posture of silence has been maintained by the government and the political parties on the large-scale victimization of Shias which only makes the community feel further betrayed. The electronic media of Pakistan continues to turn a blind eye on the persecution of the community as no coverage of the Shia genocide has been made through mainstream media outlets.