By K.N. Pandita
The massacre of twenty-eight Shia pilgrims in Balochistan who headed for a pilgrimage to the neighbouring country of Iran has, once again, diverted attention to brutal sectarian attacks and clashes in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The notorious Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, known for its rabid anti-Shia animus has accepted the responsibility of this dastardly act. The pilgrims destined for Taftan on Balochistan-Iran border were travelling in a bus which was stopped through a road block obstruction and then the passengers were asked to come out, lined up and shot dead one by one. The gruesome act is not the first of its kind in Pakistan.
Attacks on Shia community members praying in mosques or assembling in Imambargahs for congregational prayers have been fired at in the past resulting in many casualties. The attack by Lashkar-e Jhangvi came in spite of official ban on the terrorist group. It means that the government in Pakistan is unable to enforce its own decree or that it is conniving at these heinous crimes and turns its head away. A government is supposed to provide security of life and property to its citizens. That is always the first Article in any constitution. But failure of Pakistan government or the local government to provide security and safety to the pilgrims who are also a minority group raises many questions about the policy and intentions of the government in power.
Pakistan was created by the Muslims of India on the basis that they wanted a separate home for the Muslims of the sub-continent. But while Pakistan came into being, nobody among the leaders and stakeholders of partition and creation of a homeland for the Muslim said whether the new country carved out of India was for the Sunnis or Shias or Ahmadis or Ismailis. They sought to bulldoze various sectarian identities and also failed to prove that the new government worked irrespective of sectarian identities of the people who inhabited it. Not only that, there are four theological schools among the Sunnis as well and it was not set forth which of the four schools was the officially recognised school for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Devbandi and Barelvi schools within same sect have often been at loggerheads with deep and widening differences in many religious matters. This too was left unattended. Therefore the basic question arises for whom was the Islamic Republic of Pakistan created?
Pakistan gloats over not being a secular state and castigates India for her secularist ideology labelling it “la diniyat” meaning faithlessness. But which faith allows massacring and butchering innocent people intending to proceed on pilgrimage? The carnage indicates that law and order has completely broken down in Pakistan and lawlessness is the order of the day. It has to be reminded that the Sunnis in the southern province of Pakistan have raised a Sunni organization called Jundullah that has indulged in violence several times and is aimed at crushing pro-Shia elements not only within the boundaries of Pakistan but Iran also. Some time back Jundullah conducted an operation in Iranian Balochistan and killed a number of Iranian security men deployed to man the border with Pakistan. Thus there is not one but more than one terrorist outfit in Pakistan that have taken upon themselves the task of crushing the Shia community in that country. It will be reminded that the Ahmadis have already borne the brunt of Sunni-Hanafi fanaticism and they have been excommunicated from Islam. It was on the behest of the Government of Pakistan that Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims and not allowed to pray in a Sunni mosque. This exposes the theory that anybody speaking kelima or the word of Islamic confession will be protected by the Muslims. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has shrunk to Sunni-Hanafi-Wahhabi Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Another aspect of sectarian violence in Pakistan against the Shia minority community is about Iran’s reaction. Since Iran claims to be a theocratic state and claims to be transcending sectarian divide in Islam, is it not Tehran’s duty to lodge protest against the killing of a defenceless Shia minority? Iran has desisted from take genuinely serious note of these developments in Pakistan. Why the Ayatollahs in Iran are silent and tight lipped on these un-Islamic incidents and blatant violation of human rights. Pakistan cries hours about human rights violation in connection with a solitary or chance loss of life in Kashmir owing to militancy. But neither Pakistan’s Human Rights Organizations and NGOs or the Iranian government demand an enquiry into these brutal acts of human rights violations. Who is answerable for the massacre of innocent people of a religious minority community in Pakistan?