Bloodied dreams, wall of silence

Published Jun 30, 2012 03:03am

WE have made this Islamic Republic such a heaven on earth that we struggle to find words, often fight over these, to describe what its proud sons are capable of.

Just two days ago, someone asked on Twitter why our Fourth Estate calls bloody attacks on the Shia-Hazaras in Quetta ‘sectarian violence’. “Isn’t it Shia genocide?” I dived into various dictionaries but couldn’t come up with a definitive answer.

Butchery, slaughter, carnage, mass murder and of course genocide have been variously used to describe such bloodlust as is being evidenced in (not just) the Balochistan capital. Your vocabulary is as good as mine.

But will finding the correct word, using the most appropriate, accurate terminology alter the bloody ground reality or render it any clearer? Not really. Then, aren’t there even more significant questions to be asked?

Such as what drives our propensity to hate so much that even a name arouses the vilest of passions. How vile? Well, vile enough for us to kill. Didn’t you hear the ‘motive’ for the killing of a KESC official in Karachi, was said to be his Shia-sounding name though in fact he wasn’t.

How did we get here? Don’t you wish you knew? All we can see is when a state thinks nothing of using an indoctrinated non-state cast for its ‘strategic objectives’ it is but a small step for some of these villainous actors to start pursuing their own ideological agenda, no matter how toxic.

And what do we do? We prioritise. In Balochistan, our first priority is to tackle those who are ‘threatening the integrity of the state at the behest of their foreign masters’. These ‘misguided’ militants can be dealt with later if at all, even brought back on the rails as they are patriotic.

We are defending the country against external threats. All else must be secondary. One day the citadel of Islam will become that for certain. What’s the worry if for now it resembles no more than a slaughterhouse soaked in the blood of its innocent sons and daughters?

When you see the daily relentless slaughter of the Shia-Hazaras in Quetta (frankly, it’s pointless to keep count when you know it’ll need to be updated every 24 hours if not sooner) and similar hatred at work elsewhere from Chilas to Karachi, what do you do?

Well, many Shia-Hazaras say the electronic media, in particular, prefers to shut its eyes or just look away rather than acknowledge the horror. Perhaps they are right. Religious fanaticism that drives people to mass murder isn’t half as sexy as politicians tearing each other limb from limb on live telly.

Everyone is stepping over each other to please the latest centre of power in the country, the esteemed black-robed judges. The military and its intelligence apparatus continue to sell with, dare I say, consummate ease its national security threat perspective to journalists.

It may itself be under siege but even a government that has failed at almost everything except delivering on a hearty legislative agenda still has enough ideological support or the means to buy a voice or two that counts in its favour.

But who’ll march for the Shia-Hazaras, they ask. They have little hope in a decadent government whose chief executive is either so disinterested or feels so powerless that his detractors now count the number of days he is able to spend in the province he represents each month.

He prefers the handlebars of his Harley Davidson to ride around the federal capital and entertain himself rather than demonstrate the steel required to steer his troubled, torn province to safety as he was elected to do. Sincere apologies if such reports are mere propaganda.

What isn’t propaganda is that (given the size of the community) a disproportionately large number of Shia-Hazaras have been killed in and around Quetta. This happened not as they planned or executed acts of aggression against anyone. Their crime: being easily identifiable as Shia-Hazaras.

You haven’t heard many Hazara voices, have you? Here is one. Saleem Javed is a doctor of medicine and a blogger who tweets @msaleemjaved. In his own words, he so effectively articulates how it was and is for his community.

“Being a Hazara was a matter of pride. We grew up with dreams to take part in Pakistan’s development with devotion and sincerity as our forefathers did. Be it in the field of education, sports, politics or defence. We were glad as everybody thought we were successful in achieving our goals.

“But things have changed greatly since 1999. We feel being subjected to persecution, prejudice and discrimination almost on a daily basis. We feel as if there is always somebody mapping out a plan to attack us?

“You feel as if the state of Pakistan has totally abandoned you. As if the security forces are facilitating your murderers. As if the media is mocking your death. As if the human rights organisations are turning a blind eye on your genocide. And worst of all, as if your fellow countrymen are celebrating your death.

“As a Hazara you are afraid of a policeman, afraid of any armed man. We don’t even trust the Pakistan Army, top judiciary … almost nobody. Because nobody has ever heard your voice over the last 13 years. You are afraid of going to university because somebody is lying in wait to kill you.

“You can’t even escape. You need a passport for that. But you feel you’ll be murdered if you go to the passport office. You can’t go to any office for that matter because you will be identified, chased and finally shot in the head.

“You feel that even your neighbours are annoyed by your screaming and want you to stop shouting.”

Don’t let your fears about your neighbours stop you, my good friend. Or we’ll be left with no hope at all.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn.

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Comments (11) (Closed)

Jun 30, 2012 04:17am
Where does this Pakistani search for ultimate purity lead them? What is a purer form of Islam ? Why should there be a competition to determine which version of Islam is true or purer than other forms? Why should there be only one official version of Islam? All this search for the one and only true form of Islam has led people to become intolerant, violent and incapable of showing compassion.
Jun 30, 2012 03:36pm
Pakistan is falling in its ditch it dug for others
Dr Imran Ahmed
Jun 30, 2012 06:32am
There is a lot of hate in Pakistan.
Jun 30, 2012 06:24am
If the sight of blood is Haraam why do we continue to kill our own brothers?? These people are muslims.. theres no boundary between Shia and Sunni. Love and peace in the hearts of all muslims this is salaam=Islam <3
Jun 30, 2012 12:47pm
you want to treated to be treated special as muslim first... now you are trying how to filter the true muslim which is a myth. If you do not know how to live with other religions then you will not know how to live among yourselves. Those who seek identity on the basis of religion deserve to be discriminated on that basis.
Jun 30, 2012 11:30am
Is there any one who can teach the lesson of love to us? Why do we have so much hatred that we don't hesitate to kill our own brother and sisters? Quran says that if you have killed one human being( its just a human being not muslim) you have killed the whole humanity. How can these killers call themselves custodians of Islam. They are murderers of Islam.
Jun 30, 2012 11:53am
I feel as if I'm personally stabbed,even though I'm neither Pakistani or Muslim.The pain,the callousness ,the sense of abandonment and tyrannical alienation of the community is shocking.Very sad,if this is empowermentn of a particular community,then Allah spare us of that.Too late to be awaken.
Jun 30, 2012 12:00pm
I fear if the present situation goes on there will be anarchy definetly.The country will be in the hands of Sardars and Taliban and that fighting will continue for a long time.Something must be done.Pakistanis must realize that there is a problem in the entire system which they have created for the past 60+ years.
Ali Ahmed
Jul 02, 2012 01:02am
Thanks Nice Article based on reality.Great things come from Great personlities.
Ali Ahmed
Jul 02, 2012 01:00am
thx nice article based on reality
Jun 30, 2012 06:02am
Welcome to the Realization of the Afghan Jehad ( Zia Ul Haq and his cronies ) , Taliban baby ( PPP's general Naseerulah Baber and co ) , Good taliban/bad taliban ( Genral Musharaf and co ) and on the core of it , the Frankenstien Monster ( the strategic depth .. Military establishment and co ) ... All these Monsters created at one time or the other since 1956 onwards , have gone out of control and are eating the very people ( Pakistani Nation ) who took or still take pride in them . No wonder , there is no remorse at all on the killings fields these Monsters are spreading on the pretext which have failed and failed totally BUT the most dangrous paradigm of it all STATE SECURITY AND NATIONAL INTERESTS would never let any one to think any thing else . the drivers of the Ghairat Brigade have sold their soles and they do not see any thing clear than these two most abused indicators to drive the nation to the brink