By Pervez Hoodbhoy
March 4, 2012
bodies, shot Gestapo-style, lay by the roadside. Men in army uniforms had
stopped four buses bound from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, demanding that all 117
persons on board alight. Those with Shia sounding names on their national
identification cards were separated out. Minutes later it was all over; the
earlier massacres of Hazara Shias in Mastung and Quetta had been repeated.
Having just learned of
the fresh killings, I relayed the news on to colleagues and students at the
cafeteria table. Some looked glumly at their plates but, a minute or two later,
normal cheerful chatter resumed. What to do? With so many killings, taking
things too seriously can be bad for one’s mental health.
In Pakistan one’s
religious faith, or lack of one, has become sufficient to warrant execution and
murder. The killers do their job fearlessly and frequently. The 17th century
philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, once observed that “men never do
evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction”.
Equipped with just
enough religion to hate those with another faith — but not enough to love their
coreligionists — Pakistanis have mostly turned their backs on religious
atrocities. Exceptionally grotesque ones, such as when 88 Ahmadis quietly
praying in Lahore on a Friday were turned into corpses, have also failed to
inspire public reaction. Mass executions do not interest Pakistan’s religious
parties, or Imran’s Khan’s PTI. For them, only the killings by American drones
The title of this
essay deliberately excludes Hindus, Christians, and Parsis. The reason: these
communities were never enthused about India’s partition (even though some
individual members pretended to be). Indeed, they were soon slapped with the
Objectives Resolution of 1949 which termed them “minorities”, hence freaks and
outcasts dispatched to the margins. Some accepted their fate, keeping a low
profile. Others altered their names to more Muslim sounding ones. The better
off or more able ones emigrated, taking valuable skills along with them.
But with Shias and
Ahmadis it was different. Whatever they might feel now, they were enthusiastic
about Pakistan. Mr Jinnah, born a Gujrati Shia Muslim, believed that Muslims
and Hindus could never live together peacefully but that Muslims, of course,
could. Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmadi leader, was commended by Jinnah for
having eloquently argued the Two-Nation theory, and then appointed by him in
1947 as Pakistan’s first foreign minister. Mr Jinnah died early, but Zafarullah
Khan lived long enough to see disillusionment. The inevitable had happened:
once the partition was complete, the question of which version of Islam was
correct became bitterly contentious.
Pakistan’s Shias did not have the self-image of a religious minority. They had
joined Sunnis in supporting Mr Bhutto’s 1974 decision to declare Ahmadis as
non-Muslim. But now they are worried. The Tribal Areas are convulsed in
sectarian warfare: Kurram, Parachinar and Hangu (in the settled districts) are
killing grounds for both Sunni and Shia, but with most casualties being Shia.
City life has also become increasingly insecure and segregated; Karachi’s Shia
neighborhoods are visibly barricaded and fortified.
But while Shias are
numerous enough to put up a defence, Ahmadis are not. Last month, a raging
5,000-strong mob descended upon their sole worship place in Satellite Town,
Rawalpindi. Organised by the Jamaat-i-Islami, various leaders from
Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Sipah-e-Sahaba addressed the rally
demanding the worship place’s security cameras and protective barricades be
removed. The police agreed with the mob’s demands, advising the Ahmadis to
cease praying. The worship place has now been closed down.
Forbidden from calling
themselves Muslims, Ahmadi children are expelled from school once their
religion is discovered. Just a hint may be enough to destroy a career. Knowing
this, the school staff at a high school in Mansehra added the word ‘Qadiani’ to
the name of an Ahmadi student, Raheel Ahmad, effectively eliminating the boy’s
chances of getting a university education. The same school also held an
anti-Ahmadi programme, distributing prizes to winners.
The latest outrage is
that new ID cards, issued by the Punjab government, require the National
Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to insert a ‘Qadiani’ entry in the
online forms. Ahmadis now do not have the option of declaring themselves
non-Muslims. Instead the government demands that they open themselves to public
persecution, a method that Nazi Germany used against Jews.
Even dead Ahmadis are
not spared: news had reached the Khatm-e-Nabuwat that Nadia Hanif, a 17-year
old school teacher who had died of illness ten days ago, was actually an Ahmadi
but buried in a Muslim graveyard in Chanda Singh village, Kasur. Her grave was
promptly dug up, and the body removed for reburial.
apparatus, for all its tanks and guns, offers no protection to those deemed as
religious minorities. Is it just weakness? Or, perhaps, complicity? While
swarms of intelligence agents can be seen in many places, they fail
spectacularly to intercept religious terrorists. More ominously, recent months
have seen state-sanctioned Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) rallies across the
country, drawing many tens of thousands. Prominent self-proclaimed Shia and
Ahmadi killers, prance on stage while holding hands in a show of unity.
At the Multan DPC
rally on February 17, Khatm-e-Nabuwat leaders bayed for Ahmadi blood while
sharing the stage with the famed Malik Ishaq, a self-acclaimed Shia-killer.
Newspaper reports say Ishaq was freed last year after frightened judges treated
him like a guest in the courtroom, offering him tea and biscuits. One judge
attempted to hide his face with his hands. But after Ishaq read out the names
of his children, the judge abandoned the trial.
What does the Pakistan
Army think it will gain tolerating — or perhaps encouraging — such violent
forces once again? Its jawans pay an enormous price in fighting them, and their
offshoots, elsewhere in the country. But perhaps the notion that extremists are
Pakistan’s ‘strategic assets’ for use in Kashmir and Afghanistan has captured
the military’s mind. Or, post-OBL, perhaps a miffed leadership seeks to show
anger at the US through such rallies. Whatever the explanation, Pakistan’s
minorities face catastrophe.
The writer currently teaches physics and political
science at LUMS (Lahore). He taught at Quaid-i-Azam University for 36 years and
was head of the physics department.
Source: The Express Tribune
EXTREMISM AND SECTARIAN KILLINGS:
Please read the submissions below about the needless killings of Shias and Ahmedis by the extremists in the name of Islam. These Taliban will definitely go to Hell as they have become Demi God to kill others. Suicide bombings, killings of opponents, blowing up of Masajid, cutting of heads, blowing up girls schools, video shops and barber shops; rule of commercial Mullahs, Pirs, Faqirs, Taghoots, heads of religious parties and groups etc. all depict how Islam has been exploited deliberately. Islam is now a misunderstood and misguided religion due to lack of education and Quranic knowledge.
Such serious matters of religious differences involving Shias, Ahmedis and others should be left to God to be decided on Judgement Day as per Quran. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who had opposed Pakistan had said that with the creation of a communal state, the Muslims finding no other alternative 'MAHAZ' to vent their hot energy will start fighting each other ultimately. This is what happening now. Hence as per Quaide Azam's wish, Pakistan should become a secular state banning all religious parties who are exploiting Islam and make religion a personal subject matter.
This experiment was successful from the initial days of 1947 till 1971 when intermingling of persons of all faiths was very common as the people treated religion as a personal matter. The Sunnis, Shias, Deobandis, Brelvis, Qadianis, Christians, Parsis, Hindus, atheists and others were very happy in their own sphere of life and religion was hardly exploited and our Mullahs kept a low profile. Sir Mohammed Zafrullah Khan a learned and sincere Pakistani was Foreign Minister and he made the longest speech on Kashmir dispute in the Security Council but he was 'blacklisted' by our extremists in the name of Islam and he had to settle down in Europe. Another great Noble Prize Physicist, Dr. Abdul Salam was not given proper recognition by our government because of continuous blackmail by these extremists. Therefore the only solution is to proclaim Pakistan a liberal state with religion as a personal matter to achieve peace on the religious front as per the wish of the Quad-e-Azam. Gen. Zia who exploited Islam tried to impose Islamic Nizam but failed because of sectarian and minorities’ issues and their rights.
There cannot be sectarian Islamic Nizam with discrimination aganist others. Therefore a new broad based liberal constitution should be promulgated banning all political religious parties exploiting Islam for their selfish ends like the Turkish constitution. All sincere Pakistanis, intelligentsia, liberals, leaders, ulema, media, press, TVs, should be bold enough to come forward to condemn extremism, exploitation of Islam, sectarian killings, minorities discriminations creating disunity of the nation and support the idea of a liberal Pakistan with religion as a personal matter as existed before. Pakistan was created to be a model state to unite the Muslims and work towards peace and prosperity. There should be open seminars and discussions to achieve peace and to promote unity of the nation.