Diversions! They play a pivotal role in de-escalation of the current turmoil. Every ruling party or state actors use such tactics to ward off anything that may become a hiccup for them. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, Shia genocide is the easiest and most possible diversion that is used to mitigate the disorder. Ironically, the general public is less sensitive towards a bunch of slain Shias and the recurrence of such incidents has also decreased the psychological impact of such killings. For regional dialogues, for political diversions, for anti-Iran sentiments, for Arab aid or even for a political crisis, the easiest way out is to kill a bunch of Shias or leave them alone to be slaughtered by the religiously motivated Psychos.
For the vulnerable Shia Hazara community of Quetta, peace only comes in short periods of time during a reign of terror that spans decades, and continues unabated. Terror revisited the vulnerable religio-ethnic community yesterday when armed men kidnapped 11 coal miners in Mach area of Balochistan, took them to nearby mountains, and opened fire at them from close range. Six of the miners died on the spot and five others on way to hospital. Sadly, Hazaras are forced to live a life of fear. They have nowhere to hide from terrorists as their faces speak of their identity – in fact, their faith, which can be exploited easily to sow the seeds of discord and disrupt peace and harmony in the country.
The fanatical nihilism of terrorist attacks against Shia religious ceremonies – ceremonies which have been observed before the country’s founding – has become normalised and routine is a sign of the depths to which Pakistan has sunk in terms of sectarianism and social fragmentation over the past decade.
Shia Muslims within Pakistan have become a community under siege in recent years and are facing a situation which is increasingly being described by many Pakistanis as a slow-motion genocide.
Several hundred Pakistani Shias have been killed this year alone in increasingly high-profile attacks by extremist militants, including one incident caught on video in August in which passengers were forced off a bus in the Gilgit region and executed by armed militants who checked their victims’ ID cards before killing whomsoever they could identify as being Shia.
WikiLeaks cables released in 2009 described the extent of which this support has been facilitated: “Donors in Saudi Arabia as the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide… for groups aligned with Al-Qaida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
The leaked report describes in detail the extent to which wealthy, conservative Gulf donors have sought to use Pakistan as a battlefront for their war against Iran – a war in which they see all Shias across the world as being legitimate targets for violence.
An estimated $100m per year has flowed from donors from the Gulf to fund extremist groups in Pakistan and spread sectarian ideology – a massive sum especially for a developing country such as Pakistan and one which has been increasingly successful in subverting the heterodox and tolerant Islamic tradition which has historically been prevalent in the subcontinent.
Despite these encouraging pronouncements, the horrifying scenes of murder which played out on Pakistani streets during this year’s Ashura commemorations are a stark reminder of how deeply embedded violently extremist religious attitudes have become within segments of Pakistani society in recent years.
Pakistani Shias increasingly face “sectarian cleansing” from the country if violence against them continues to accelerate, a fate which would be a tragic end to a community which for most of the Pakistan’s history has lived in communal harmony with majority Sunnis and others within Pakistan’s once-inclusive ethnic and religious tapestry.
There is growing realization within Pakistan that the cynical manipulation of the country by regional actors is leading to a potential existential crisis for the state. Shias make up a large percentage of the country’s population of 180 million and account for a significant proportion of the professional class which is vital to the nation’s continued viability. The state’s response towards this genocide remained indifferent as these militant groups and their leaders were occasionally allowed to hold anti Shia rallies during which their leaders openly threatened to kill the Shias. The provision of such leverages to these banned outfits clearly labels state’s response towards this genocide which is sowing a seed of mistrust and resentment among the oppressed Shias. for the tyrants this is to state, “Kill me, I’m a Shia because you will find no other reason.”