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Islam and Sectarianism (05 Mar 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Ahmadis and Shias- Run for Your Life

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

March 4, 2012

Eighteen bloodied 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 matter.

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.

Until recently, 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.

Pakistan’s state 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

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-sectarianism/pervez-hoodbhoy/executions-and-murders-in-pakistan---run-for-your-life/d/6786



    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.   

    By Pakistani Pakistani - 5/10/2012 5:37:19 AM

  • I see a parallel between the Nazis’ witch-hunting the Jews in the Germany of the1930s and 40s while the “good Germans” looked the other way, and today the Islamists’ witch-hunting the Hindus and Christians, and then the Ahmadis, and now the Shias while the “moderates” refuse to acknowledge it is happening. In the former case, there was one psychopath mobilizing the entire nation to the delusion of its supremacy; but today the whole nation is self-mobilized into a delusion of supremacy without some central charismatic figure. In one case by eliminating one tumor from a patient could cure the patient, but how do you eliminate a tumor when the tumor and the patient become one single entity, without killing the patient. Syed Rizvi
    By Syed Rizvi - 3/6/2012 8:06:15 AM

  • I am compelled to say as a Muslim that it is the 'diabolic face of the institutional Islam informed by its Classical Shari law that is manifesting itself in Pakistan lending credit to the contents of a recently posted article quoting an Australian website on Islam watch. How long are the Muslims going to deny the truth that their Classical Law supported by the Hadith corpus - despite the glorious role of these institutions in the early centuries of Islam has, over time, contracted a cancerous malaise that the traditional madrassa education is helping to metastasize? A number of recent articles have attempted to bring this malaise across with strong arguments but failed to stimulate the intellect of the learned commentators.
    Pakistan, in the hands of extremists and champions of Hadith and Classical Sharia of Islam has virtually turned into ‘Kufristan’ where in stark denial of the Qur’anic message a reign of terror is created in the name of Islam – though God knows best.

    By muhammad yunus - 3/5/2012 6:57:19 PM

  • We Sunnis need to do a lot of repenting and do a Jihad an-nafs against ourselves to rise above our baser instincts, and pray to God to cleanse us of our hatred and ignorance. We must resolve to treat all human beings as our brothers, including Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians, atheists and all others.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/5/2012 1:27:37 PM

  • I would say along the fundamentalism, it is the money which is major motivator for most of the fundamentalist crime. The poor are recruited for money and then they are brainwashed for these inhuman activity and are justified in the name of the religion.
    By satwa gunam - 3/5/2012 8:28:07 AM

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