ISLAMABAD, Jan 14: The peaceful protests by the Hazara and other Shia groups, which led to the dismissal of the Balochistan government and the imposition of Governor’s rule in the province, were not spontaneous but the result of meticulous planning and coordination.
More importantly, this event brought together the office holders and activists of now dormant Shia groups including the banned Tehrik-i-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP).
Initially, the Hazara leadership and community in Quetta kicked off the movement by refusing to bury the people who died in Thursday’s blasts and began a sit-in.
This provoked the leaders of Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM), a relatively new Shia party, whose main leader, Secretary General Allama Nasir Abbas reached Quetta on Saturday to talk to the Hazara community there.
The MWM emerged in 2007 to highlight the woes of ordinary citizens in general and the Shia residents of Kurram Agency in particular where Parachinar had been cut off from the rest of the country for months on end.
However, its organisational structure was established as late as April 2011, while the district and local setup is still far from complete or well organised.
But when they decided to join the Hazara community, the party’s leaders and activists started to contact the older and more experienced Shia political workers across the country, seeking their presence at protests and asking for help.
The MWM was able to rope in old hands who were part of Tehrik-i-Jafaria in the 90s and those who had once been active members of Imamia Students Organisation (ISO).
In fact, office-bearers of Shia Ulema Council (SUC) led by Allama Sajid Naqvi were also involved.
SUC was the reincarnation of the TJP after it was banned.
For instance, a prominent figure at the Faizabad protest was Chaudhry Bashir Sahi, who is a former president TJP, Rawalpindi city.
He came from Gujrat to Rawalpindi on the invitation of the MWM; he reached here on Saturday afternoon as the message had been conveyed to him on Friday.
Similarly, the central president of ISO in the late 1990s, Hassan Zaidi, was seen picking up the litter at the protest location at Faizabad more than once.
In fact, the former office-bearers of TJP, ISO and the Imamia Organisation were at the helm in not just Islamabad but beyond in cities such as Mirphurkhas and Taxila.
The MWM and the ISO leaders actually called in their old fellows to help in the situation ignoring all kinds of differences.
“The protest in Taxila was organised by the Sajid Naqvi group and ISO workers participated in it whereas the ISO called the protest in Mirpurkhas,” said Allama Amin Shaheedi, the deputy secretary general of MWM who led the Faizabad protests.
It was evident that the scale of killings of Shia citizens had compelled old rivals to put aside their differences and come together.
“We have decided to come out and raise our voices in protest,” said Fakhar-i-Alam, who was president of TJP Rawalpindi city in the 1990s, on Saturday during the protest.
His old comrade, a member of the provincial cabinet of TJP in early 1990s, Kaunain Hussaini, was also there – along with his children and grandchildren. Still loyal to Allama Sajid Naqvi, his progeny even helped distribute nan and pakoras among the participants.
Others that were there included a matami anjuman from Satellite Town. These 40 something members of the Anjuma-i-Sajadia, have been close to the Shia parties in the past. They all brought the paraphernalia for making green tea and served the participants. Similarly, a small group of old female ISO students supervised the establishment of makeshift restrooms for the female participants.
But interestingly, there was no doubt that the MWM was not short of money – it spent generously on the food for the participants.
Boiled eggs, biscuits, bakery products, packed rice and water bottles were available in generous amounts.
After the success of these protests, the MWM leaders are planning to establish a special committee to maintain a regular liaison among their old fellows.