Shia killing: Identified, offloaded and shot

Published: March 2, 2012

Pakistani Shia Muslim mourns the killing of their community members in a hospital in Quetta on October 4, 2011. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Last time it happened they called it the Holocaust. The Nazis did not annihilate the Jews for what they had done or for what they had not done for that matter. They exterminated millions of Jewish men, women and children for what they were – the Jews.

That was the identity of those unfortunate souls that led them to ghastly ghettos and horrific concentration camps set up by the Third Reich across Europe. The holocaust was the genocide of one of its own kind, where no territory dispute or any material stakes were involved, but simply the hatred for a specific race that instigated one of the most horrendous mass killing events of hitherto history.

More recently, on September 20, 2011, an incident took place in Ganjidori area of Mastung, about 30 kilometers southeast of Quetta when a group of armed men attacked a passenger bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Quetta to Iran. The passengers were identified, offloaded and shot dead – 26 of them bore the brunt of being Shia.

This came as a shock to many, who were largely unaware of faith based killings owing to the dominant public narrative in Pakistan that barely allows anyone to think or analyse critically out of their respective comfort zones.

Not many lovers of Mohsin Naqvi’s poetry are aware of the fact that he was murdered by fanatics because of being an adherent to Shia faith. There are only few out there who know that eminent scholar and Urdu poet Rais Amrohvi, brother of Jaun Elia, was assassinated in 1988 by the virtue of his faith.

There is a complete blackout in mainstream media about those 85 Shia doctors who have been killed in Karachi since 1990. Very little coverage, if any, has been given to the plight of Hazara Shias in Quetta who are being targeted for nearly a decade now. Parachinar is probably too far to get attention where Turi and Bangash Shias are under siege and assault of extremists, and scores have been killed since 2007. The only thing that binds all these sufferers together and distinguishes them is their faith based identity.

As the state has miserably failed to protect its citizens, the intelligentsia and journalists – with few exceptions – share the proportionate blame for misrepresenting the spate of violence against Shias, that has come to be a systematic phenomenon. Deafening silence and misrepresentation of these inhumane killings have added to the miseries of the Shia community. Already indoctrinated by the state propagated narrative, the urban middle class of Pakistan barely gets the chance to come across anything objective coming from the mainstream media that further obfuscates already perplexed and macabre state of affairs. The identity of victims is usually missed out on purpose making it more difficult for common viewers / readers to comprehend the situation which is getting wretched with each passing day.

Why call them Shia?

A fundamental question comes to the fore. Why is it requisite to bring up the specific identity of the victims? Why doesn’t the simple appellation of Muslim or Pakistani suffice?

Well, the answer is not so incomprehensible.

A little out of the box approach is solicited to fathom the significance of specific identity. Here’s a case in point, an excerpt from a news item related to the recent massacre of Shias in Kohistan area:

Gunmen flagged down the buses, climbed on board and asked passengers for identification. They then proceeded to drag a group of men off the bus, stood them in a line by the roadside, and mercilessly sprayed them with bullets….They checked the identity of the passengers, got the Shias off the vehicles and shot them dead.

It’s evident like the shining sun from the above extract what got the unfortunate souls killed. Ruthless killers did not identify and segregate the passengers by their Muslim or Pakistani identity, but otherwise. What bars us from calling it as it is? The most commonplace answer is:

To maintain sectarian harmony and not to aggravate things further.

Again, this is by and large a shallow perspective. This justification can only be vindicated if we maintain that the ongoing killings of Shias across the country is the inevitable result of sectarian violence – when, by any standard, this is not sectarian violence but faith based mass killings of a particular group. Sectarian violence is necessarily a two-way phenomenon based on quid pro quo principle, while looking into the statistics of those killed during last few years the fact comes to the fore that killings of any other group does not even come near the Shias killed for their faith.

This is not to play down historical disputes that persist between different sects and have always been there, but in fact to put the blame only on dogmatic issues that are tantamount to the elimination of the sinister elements perpetrating these killings. Masses have nothing to do with sectarian issues rather they have their own problems to deal with.

Taking into account the subcontinent, the Muslims had been living peacefully not only with the adherents to different religions but also there was peaceful harmony between different Muslim sects. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb ruled the same society that once was governed by his predecessor Akbar. Shias were killed en masse during Aurangzeb’s era while Akbar’s rule was peaceful for them. That was a mindset, not society or Sunni sect for that matter, which led to the systematic persecution of Shias who had been peacefully living in the same society for centuries. The mindset is still operative that emanates from the courtyard of ignorance and nourishes in the power corridors of tyranny and oppression.

The problem at hand is not that who are the killers wreaking havoc across the country, but at first the question that our collective consciousness as a nation still ought to ask and reflect upon is that who are the people getting killed.

Once this question, which has been buried under the debris of lies and misconceptions, is addressed and well conceived, the truth immersed in the mist will start to emerge. Once we comprehend why a community persecuted and mass murdered during WWII is remembered as the Jews and not as Germans, Polish or Netherlanders despite being the residents of all these countries, we will start conceptualizing the reality.

Till then, there is no silver lining in dark clouds of horror for Shias of Pakistan living under the shadows of death.

Suleman Akhtar

Suleman Akhtar

A mechanical engineer belonging to Gujrat.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • adnan

    Yes, Shias of Pakistan are being targeted and killed, for what they are, say it please. Recommend

  • M Baloch

    Hats off to the blogger for putting things in such coherent manner. Media apathy was clearly visible when on the very evening of the incident 99% percent of the TV talk shows were discussing Supreme court or Waheeda Shah’s slap. Even honourable chief justice took sou motto of Waheeda Shah instead of 20 kilings? Not a single column on the incident on next morning? In these two months of new year there are numerios killings in Khairpur, Karachi Sindh, killing of Allama Saqlain Naqvi in Alipur but no only this three mass killings in Khanpur, Parachinar and now Kohistan but why everyone is silent. Please remember, if this bloodbath continues none of us will be safe from these murderers so speak for your country and future generations:
    “First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me."
    --Attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller

  • Ayesha (India)

    Javed Akhtharji said it right…India is the only country where all sects of Muslims can practice their faith freely..even though Muslims are not in majority

    Now dont start the accusation of Kashmir Killing and Gujarat riots…Inspite of these,India is still the best nation for a “good muslims”…Recommend

  • Pakistani 786

    I agree. Its horrific to see a minority being persecuted because of their faith.Recommend

  • Jangloos

    why the moat-knowledgeable TV anchors of current era not highlight this issue?? why are they silent on this problem which is shaking the country from its basic foundations?? Javed Choudhry, Hamid Mir, Kamran Shahid, Mubashar Luqman and likes are just puppets!!Recommend

  • zaid hamid

    All is well. Dont fall pray to the media war. Everything is fine. The ememies of Pakistan are trying to divide us. Remember the golden rule.. Muslims dont kill Muslims.Recommend

  • Pashtun voice

    I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Shia brothers and sisters against these barbarians. What makes me angry is that why isn’t everyone in Pakistan out in the streets demonstrating against such brutalityRecommend

  • Optimist

    Very sad indeed but there is a great hope.
    Pakistanis have rejected extremists and they know their enemies.
    It was a terrorists attack, not a Shia Vs Sunni or Sunni Vs Shia.
    We never had any civil war, only COWARD terrorism. Inshallah we shall be victorious!!Recommend

  • muhammad wasim

    it’s not just the shia communtiy who are suffering in this balochistan,punjabi civilians were taken off buses after their NIC’s were checked and were lined up outside on the road and shot dead, one by one.Recommend

  • Baqar

    A sad story put beautifully…Recommend

  • Kafka

    Killing of innocent Shias in Pakistan is going on unabated and needs to be condemned by all the people who believe in reason and logic. However, the author may also do a little of research on the underlying issues. The hate-mongers bring to the fore the fact that some elements regularly caste aspersions on the figures held in esteem by others. This is more or less like the issue of butchering cows in India. Muslims were bent upon butchering cows which is sacred to Hindus. Both parties stuck to their views, resulting in violence and killings. Recommend

  • zinzi

    You forgot to mention the scores of people who are target killed everyday in Karachi just because they are Shias. And the ones who die in imam bargahs and processions. That’s thousands of shias being killed.Recommend

  • AG

    Shameful, these barbarians should be hunted down and shot…Recommend

  • Gilgit-Baltistan

    The Shia peoples of Hunza-Nagar are very peaceful, They have not taken revenge of kohistan incident but they defeat the terrorists by protecting 100plus Kohistani labourers(sunni) working in Hunza. We are proud of the brave people of Nagar Valley. Sunni should learn from them.Recommend

  • haris khan

    zinzi you are right,, why are media showing only Shia killing,,
    why not show another side of picture that all pakistani suffring in this time,
    ye to pakistan me roz koe marta hayRecommend

  • Akha

    Hats off to the writer for a comprehensive analysis and bringing it into limelight, we are not tolerating any minority; Ahmadis for their non Islamic / non patriotic attitude (as they called it) and now our Shia brothers.
    These topics should be discussed openly by intellectuals to promote harmony rather putting them under the carpet. every human has the right to live no matter whatever his beliefs are, rather we straight away declare others as non-Muslims. get a life ppl we don’t need India or America to destroy are, we are doing a pretty good job ourselves. Recommend

  • Raza Baloch

    Well done Suleman Akhtar. this is any eye opening for the world of liberals and democrats. A country which was named as “Pakistan” now it is Jihadistan. Let our democratic government rethink over reconciliation policies in case of militant Islamists who are determined for sectarian cleansing. Continuous killings of Shia minority in Pakistan gives us a notion that our state agencies failed or involved in Shai killings. We can use words like Genocide and Holocaust of Shia in Pakistan in 20th century. Recommend

  • Ashish

    First they came for Ahmadi , I was silent , afterwards they came for Shias , I was silent . Then they came for Christians /Hindus , I was silent. Now they have come for me and there is no one to help.
    As such Islam is a religion of peace but alas taken over by fanatics and extremists. “Dil behlane ke liye Galib ,khayal aacha hey”. I think that they want only Sunnis to rule the “world”. Why some people here term it as normal extremism just for the sake of making themselves happy but when the victims are being identified before killing , it is nothing but sectarian killing. In India , riots may happen but this killings are not there. I second the statement of Ayesha (India) that all sects, even Ahmadis are living here peacefully.Recommend

  • Shia Voice

    Only shias are massacred this is not sectarion as not two sided killings

    Again, this is by and large a shallow perspective. This justification can only be vindicated if we maintain that the ongoing killings of Shias across the country is the inevitable result of sectarian violence – when, by any standard, this is not sectarian violence but faith based mass killings of a particular group. Sectarian violence is necessarily a two-way phenomenon based on quid pro quo principle, while looking into the statistics of those killed during last few years the fact comes to the fore that killings of any other group does not even come near the Shias killed for their faith

    very well explained first time in mediaRecommend

  •!/zaeemj1 Lord

    bro the issue you are pointing is not new.This difference of opinion dates back to days after prophet demise from there these problem started and even if they are not discussed they are written in detail in our islamic history books so there is no point in killing other sect on this basis. Lets come together on one GOD , One Prophethood , One Quran .If you still say that they should believe in what you believe brother thats not possible and this havoc will continue.Recommend

  • Resoner

    Very well-researched and timely piece indeed !Recommend

  • Fatima

    Thank You
    For speaking our heart out ….
    I am a Shia working in a Shia Organization.
    Every night i sleep with a thought of being killed the next day because of my faith …Recommend

  • Parvez

    When we beg from others and allow others to manipulate and dictate terms and fight proxy wars on our soil, then we will suffer. The fault and blame rests with us, as does the solution.Recommend

  • harish

    what is new in this? you did the same thing in 1947, but celebrated it as a victory over infidels, so what is disturbing you today?
    These people have been doing all this to each other since 1000 AD, it is not something that can be changed overnight.Recommend

  • Kaalchakra

    There is something specially horrifying about the idea of buses being stopped, people being identified by their faith, then lined up and shot to death.

    The first time I heard about such incidents was in Kashmir when the cleasing of Hindus from there began to take place. It was a baffling development because it made no logical sense – given the history of rather cordial intercommunity relations there; even worse, nobody seemed to care or found such barbaric bloodletting humanly repulsive.

    I hope things turn out better in Pakistan, and different political goals are pursued peacefully.Recommend

  • Skardu

    I am a Shia Muslim from GB and now we feel completely un safe in Pkaistan. we dont have nay way to leave this luckless country. if Govt cant stopp these brutal killing then please arrange a Asylum (HIJRAT) to all Shia Muslin of Pakistan to go and we are ready to ‘HIJRAT’ instead of dead by a extremist Taliban minded peoples.Recommend

  •!/zaeemj1 Lord

    Impartial logical people like you are only chance for our society please keep on mentioning th oppressed who ever it may be.Please also reveal the identity of oppressors as well.God Bless you.Recommend

  •!/zaeemj1 Lord

    The one aware of oppression, the aid to it, and the pleased with it, all three are partners.Recommend

  • Glenn Ryall

    This is all justified man just like how many refer the Nazis annihilation of the Jews as justified. I think it is the heart of man where the problem lies :s Recommend

  • shoaib mir

    One doesn’t have to be s Shia to see through what is so evidently being ignored by a blatantly selective and self-serving media; and also why the self styled custodians of ideology have been turning a blind eye to the crime of this massacre of religious minorities. It’s the extremist, militant Mindset with an upper case M that has been nurtured in our institutions of learning; and that’s been sadly at work in the highest echelons of the State for decades especially since the Eighties. Truth be told, even the portals of justice have fallen victim to this narrow mindedness. The highest bewigged official in the Islamic Republic has observed to the effect that the nation needs to be protected from secularism and on another occasion that there is no Sunni-Shia conflict in Pakistan. Need one say more why we a long way away from sectarian peace and harmony envisaged by our founding fathers and that represents the true spirit of the faith we love to profess.Recommend

  • Zahid

    Dear, zaid hamid:
    what do you mean”muslims don’t killl muslims. Who do you think the killers are from?
    Have you seen any American, British or European did suicide mosque? All terrorists are muslims and they are Taliban and other banned outfits.
    Kindly don’t hide reality.Recommend

  • Zahid

    @Pashtun voice:
    I appreciate your comments friend.
    If every one is out on street protesting against target killing brutality.
    There will be less room for terrorist to act their evil acts.
    We are not united this is the reason we all are victim of every terrorists.
    thanks dear Recommend

  • Xohaib

    @ author.

    please check on the facts yourself…. there were thousands jews killed by nazis, not millions dear… and why u r comparing jews with shias of this world? do you think there is any similarity?

    “I could have annihilate all the jews of this world, but i left few of them, for the world to know why i killed them in the first place”…. – HitlerRecommend

  • kamran

    The Shia, with their great emphasis on social justice, egalitarianism, and equality are a great threat to the forces of obscurantism, elitism and exploitation. Hence the great enmity, hence the killings.

    However, slowly but surely, the tides are turning.Recommend

  • G. Tone

    The major difference between the Holocaust and the killing of Shia in Pakistain, is that millions of Jews were rounded up and exterminated, regardless of boarders or countries.

    I feel greatly for your countrymen who only strive for a just and equal society. Pity the politicians don’t distant themselves from corruption and public euphemisms Recommend

  • Sumbul Rizvi

    An excellent read. We all have the fear of being killed today & tomorrow. But killing Shias like me won’t be vanishing off from this planet by being killed in anyway. They need to use their heads if they have. This is insanity. Recommend

  • Sumbul Rizvi

    @ Zahid Hamid:
    I don’t agree with your thought. The one who is killing is Muslim and the one who is getting killed is also Muslim (if he barely accepts the other one as a Muslim). I always hated this comment that ‘the killers, suiciders aren’t Muslims’. The bitter reality is that they are in the faith of Islam and we always get away with this stupid comment because we’re always trying to escape with the reality. Doing the wall chalking and putting up a caption against Shia as a ‘Kaafir’ will never make them as they think. I wonder and I think at times that why someone can’t ask them what’s the point of killing a Shia who isn’t doing any harm to others. Why ?Recommend

  • Sikander

    How can you know some one is a shiya by looking at there CNIC? CNIC does not have sect written on it.Recommend

  • FJ

    Dear Author & ET blog,
    Thank you very much for writing such an excellent article. I am so glad to know that people like you and good media like ET is still there to highlight the brutal killings of innocent people and seriously you all are our (Shias) hope to some extent. Thanks again and please keep writing unsaid stuff. May you remain safe, happy and content, Ameen.Recommend

  • Sumbul Rizvi

    Simply by just looking the last names. Shias usually have Syed as their sir name. If your name has Rizvi, Jafri, Naqvi, Zaidi, Askari, Kazmi, Taqvi, Moosvi in it then you’ll be short listed and busted off.Recommend

  • sidjeen


  • FJ

    @Xohaib: What a stupid comment…the similarity is in terms genocide not in terms of faith.set aside your bias and sarcasim, we (the shias) do understand what you are tying to say..Recommend

  • Hamna Malik

    @zaid hamid:
    All is well? Everything is fine? Mr Zaid Hamid should come and live in Quetta for a week, experience what it feels like when you get to see dead bodies of your dear ones who’re killed every week left behind with a video tape showing how brutally they have been slaughtered !!
    Media doesn’t even show 1% of what’s happening in these areas. It’s not the media who exaggerates. Recommend

  • rehan

    Yes, the silence is deafening.Recommend

  • XYZ

    Salam to All
    @Sikander: I have written my name as XYZ so as to hide if I am Shia Muslim or Sunni Muslim :-) Now do u get me how the Killers identify Shias? The fact is I will remain on my faith even if I discard my name and this is what Killers do…. They first identify by the names, if not then by hitting on the beliefs…What I believe the faith remains regardless of fact that one die or survive…..I wish my homeland to be the safest place on earth but unfortunately it isn’t. The justice is out from our society even if it is Justice Chaudhri sb because his focus is only towards his favorite cases and Shia killing is not on his agenda of self actions as he lives in the heaven of fools.
    @Zahid Hamid: Can you please confirm if you live in Pakistan or at Mars, because target killing of Shias is not the today’s chapter…….If you dont agree with me then please refer to the “Fatwas” of So-Called Muftis which are available online/ on books as well declaring Shias as Kafir and for the sake of your knowledge these books are openly taught in Madrassas which cause such incidents to occur and our country’s enemies just assist them in accomplishing their tasks. Therefore; before blaming others; get some courage to please start protest for kicking out the chapters of hatred from Syllabus if you think this is going wrong otherwise have the option to pick up the gun and shoot all of the Shias and get the So-Called “Jannah”.

    Sorry Friends (Including Zahid) if I got emotional but I am on the ground who faced such realities on routine basis and I am not the one who just close the eyes and say “All is Well” or start blaming others because I am the one who have seen my friends/ fellows being shot dead or martyred in Bomb blasts even within Mosques…..Therefore; the words like “The Killers are not So-called Muslim” cannot satisfy me or others like me…..

    Will Reply Back on Comments (if not killed) and Allah Hafiz :-)Recommend

  • rehan abbas

    chief justice of pakistan the person who take action on any news he also does not care about shia’s of pakistan because in last 45 days more than 150 shias have killed but cj has not take any actionRecommend

  • Al Sheikh

    **We need practical measurements. **

    I am satisfied and u are aggrieved about the recent killings. Tomorrow you will be satisfied and vis versa. This the hypocrisy which is inbuilt in all of we Muslims. On papers and theories we all condemn these kinds of incidents but inner-heart we support our own sect whether they are right or wrong. If I call all of you, to assemble for protest for the recent killings, I shall hardly find any behind me because we all have very solid excuses to remain silent on such issues. Recommend

  • Brian Smith

    I grew up in the Southern United States in the 1960`s. Back then, I remember clearly the hostile feelings people in the South had against the people from the North as the grand children, great grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren of those who fought in the American Civil war more than 100 year earlier.

    What you see in Islamic countries I believe is somewhat the same. The motivation is about wanting to get revenge. The difference is these murderers use of the teachings of the Quaran as vehicle to justify their homicidal behavior. Pathetic, but revenge still is the motivation.

    Violence is almost an everyday occurrence in some Muslim lands: it should not be exacerbated by revenge attacks on more innocent families and communities.
    And the amount of death and misery Muslims inflict on each other everyday worldwide guarantees this insanity will continue for another hundred years. And if Muslims can`t get along between themselves, the is little hope for them to get along with the non-Muslim world.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ”Man must evolve for all human conflict to end with a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”Recommend

  • Awais

    @M Baloch:
    I studied that poem in drama class when I was in high school. It was part of our act of the diary of Anne Frank.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Optimist: “It was a terrorists attack, not a Shia Vs Sunni or Sunni Vs Shia.

    If they had killed all people in the bus, you would have been correct in describing it as a terrorist attack. But if only Shias are identified and killed , it has to be called an attack on Shias. No 2 ways about it.Recommend

  • I.Baloch

    there must be congressional hearing in US on killing of shias in pakistan, then so called right wing media and parliament will pay attention to their sufferings, till that time forget it.Recommend

  • Almir

    It is indeed a horrific situation. Govt., Media and CJ are shamelessly quiet on such a serious issue.

    @ Zaid Hamid,

    How is everything well when we never know if we would return back from a majlis, a procession or if my dad will be home today after Jumma or Eid Prayers. Each of my uncles and cousins face came before my eyes when I got to know of the Kohistan Killings.
    Shias in Pakistan are living in such a complex situation that your little ridiculously incompetent mind and biased outlook can’t ever realize.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    This article is more coherent and brilliant than any of my comments put together on the matter in these forums. Kudos to the author.

    Though I knew about Aurangzeb’s bloody exploits, that specific anti-Shia sectarian fact I learned from a Jain friend. And to think this monster is praised in Pakistani textbooks. I know you tried to downplay it not being endorsed by society or the Sunni sect, however, I would hope today’s Sunni Pakistani majority would come in terms and accept how twisted and messed up that was. Otherwise praising those same figures is simply a continuation of that same hate ideology, whether the anti-India spite or anti-Shia apathy, where dominance and tyranny of someone of the same labelled background is valued and matters more than moral, just and peaceful harmony. Recommend

  • Thakur

    I couldnt agree more. I find it insensitive and disgusting when people label these as sectarian killings. This is not sectarian violence, it is genocide. It is part of a consistent and organized effort to mass-murder shia people in Pakistan. Numbers dont lie and the author has done a good job by supporting his writing with up to date facts and figures. Quite ironic how people in a country founded by a Shia are now bent upon cleansing it of all shias.Recommend

  • bigsaf


    Pakistanis have rejected extremists and they know their enemies.

    Honestly doubt it, with the Difa-e-Pakistan rallies having great turnouts and positive nods from establishmentarians, military brass and main political parties. And then Taseer’s assassination proved it wasn’t just fringe groups we were dealing with. Religious extremism is persuasive.

    It was a terrorists attack, not a Shia Vs Sunni or Sunni Vs Shia.

    Unfortunately it seems the impact of the article has been lost here. It was a religious sectarian terrorist attack, whether you like to accept it or not. There are indeed local and foreign Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremists that exist and justify the violent cleansing of Shia minorities.

    We never had any civil war, only COWARD terrorism. Inshallah we shall be victorious!!

    I doubt we’ll be victorious when we’re steeped in denialism. It certainly felt like a civil war for the people of Parachinar in the 80’s and recently. Karachi was at the brink of it in the 90’s. Your comment has left me even more pessimistic…Recommend

  • Kamran Bangash

    Thing are already out of control. By every passing day the disintegration of Pakistan is becoming more visible. We should change our attitude, should stop blaming the foreign hand and find out the real causes of all this instability and violence.

    By ignoring the plight of Shiite in Pakistan we are ignoring the future of Pakistan.Recommend

  • bigsaf


    However, the author may also do a little of research on the underlying issues. The hate-mongers bring to the fore the fact that some elements regularly caste aspersions on the figures held in esteem by others. This is more or less like the issue of butchering cows in India.

    Honestly, that’s more of a pre-text or flimsy excuse to continue hate, by as you rightly called hate mongers. It’s an emotional bigoted exaggeration and prejudiced hyperbole they choose to fixate and fantasize on to justify their barbarity (apparently moral and ethics fly out the window here) and murder the most innocent, including women and children who barely know or utter the supposed aspersions, which isn’t common and rather rare. Has more to do with their insecurity and ideological partisanship and discrimination. Recommend

  • Humza Ikram

    More power to your pen , Suleman ! .

    Its time to call spade a spade – Its not sectarian rift . Its a genocide of a particular sect . Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Parachinar is probably too far to get attention where Turi and Bangash Shias are under siege and assault of extremists, and scores have been killed since 2007.

    The embedded link leads to Dr.Kazmi’s article. Unfortunately he, or his editor, seem to have sanitized or self censored the truth of Parachinar’s sectarian context quite a lot, perhaps to gain the widest appeal as possible to help out the residents.

    But it is telling. Many from the Pakistan state, government and military, and their followers had labelled the conflict as a rivalry between tribes. Yet the Bangash Shias, who are rarely mentioned – well done – too found themselves under attack by their fellow Bangash Sunni members who allied with the Taliban and their like.

    The residents of Gilgit-Baltistan, despite being majority Shiites, are represented by a disproportionate number of Sunni Deoband lawmakers who’ve shown a history discrimination. Basically pointing towards state and societal duplicity, if not worse. Recommend

  • Ahmed Lodhi

    @Zaid Hamid
    “All is well. Dont fall pray to the media war. Everything is fine. The ememies of Pakistan are trying to divide us. Remember the golden rule.. Muslims dont kill Muslims.”

    It was certain that one such comment, at least, would appear from one of your sorts. “All is well” that ends well; although the innumerable Shias killed didn’t end particularly well. Indeed, the enemies of Pakistan are trying to divide us, through these faith based mass killings, and so with their euphemistic words of suspended intellect. One such suspension of intellect is the so called “golden rule” of Muslims never killing Muslims, which perhaps was proved null and void with the break of very first fitna during the Rashidun caliphate.Recommend

  • Ali Nasir

    I really don’t understand about the nature of this article, there are hundreds on people (Sunni Muslim) die everyday (Kiiling, bomb attack or anyother way) but who cares. The news headline is always like this ” 22 people killed in blah blah blah” but whenever someone from shia community killed headline is like this ” 22 shia people killed in blah blah blah”

    Why double standard ? Is shia blood has more value then any other human ? Why not to call a human has been killed ?Recommend

  • Mbbs china

    The motivation is about wanting to get revenge. The difference is these murderers use of the teachings of the Quaran as vehicle to justify their homicidal behavior. Pathetic, but revenge still is the motivation.Recommend

  • Ashish

    @Ali Nasir : There is a difference between killing by Bomb blast and other ways. In this case , they were identified first and killed afterwards. This does not happen in other ways of extremism .
    Unless and until , the mind set is not changed of common people , it will always be there.
    Why do not people like you allow others to practice whatever they want ? Are you a “Thekedar”? I wish you go to some other country with other religion and let us see what are your thoughts ?
    The same thing is happening to Ahamadis , Shias , Christians , Hindus and other religions in Pakistan. People like you are in favour of such things. Same thing happened in Kashmir where Hindus were displaced. What ever the outcome of Kashmir , let them remain there. Their will also matters.Recommend

  • Peace

    Suleman akhtar

    Thanks 2 u n ET for publishing this article very well researched and factual . . .

    i being myself shia when we go out from home we dont know we will come back wheather we r engineers, doctors , technocrats , business men etc living in urban or rural . . . going in car or bus we all are on the hit list of extremeist they know our home our route, car , jobs etc

    It felt really very good by ur article as there is still some ppl n voices left in pakistan who r standing beside us for unjustice being done just bcoz of faith we believe in . . . .

    ” Good job” May Allah Bless u for this publication . . . Recommend

  • Ali Nasir

    @Ashish When I told that I am in favour of this activities, I just told to take action not to based on the sect but action against all of these people regardless of their sect. Extremism is on both side so there should not be any double standard.Recommend

  • narayana murthy

    @Zaid hamid

    Did not like your comment this time. It’s pretty cliched even for you.

    besides, why long sentences? what happened to your one liners?Recommend

  • Abhi

    what holocast! there was no such thing. It is all conspiracy of west to create israel in muslim holy land.Recommend

  • Maulana Munawar Hassan

    Islam is the religion of peace. The killing of shias shows that “ghairat” of muslims is now waking up.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    @Ali Nasir:

    Extremism is on both side so there should not be any double standard.

    ‘Both sides’ is a disingenuous claim. Shows one uncomfortable and in denial of reality or steeped in anti-minority resentment. Extremism is more evident among the majority as evidenced with Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremists. It’s false equivalence. Quote of the shallow perspective the author eludes to.

    Sectarian violence is necessarily a two-way phenomenon based on quid pro quo principle, while looking into the statistics of those killed during last few years the fact comes to the fore that killings of any other group does not even come near the Shias killed for their faith.

    Bigoted, biased right wing white dudes would harp more on the Black Panthers as ‘equally bad’ as the KKK. The KKK had a dogmatic supremacist agenda while the Black Panthers were born out as reactionary defence. The Black Panthers militant activities pales in comparison to the atrocities committed by the Klan. Truth and statistics bear this out the same way in the evidential anti-Shia sectarian cleansing in Pak.

    Fair to claim Israelis and Palestinians as equally suffering? No. It’s more complex. They are not equal and opposite partners, and Palestinians are worse off. Or would you rather deny their identity?

    Crimes have motive. Attacks against non-Sunni religious minorities based on religious bigotry happens at a higher and more prevalent rate compared to against the Sunni majority. And yes, attacks against Sunnis, or at least their sub-sects or sectarian organizations, do get mention. Like hate organization’s ASWJ lawyer who was assassinated, which led to a retaliation attack on 3 random Shia lawyers of no particular religious political group. Or the Sunni police officer in Gilgit-Baltistan, before the bus massacre that claimed 18 Shiite lives. Or Deobands and Barelvis going at it, etc. So spare us the hypocrisy of touting the ‘double standard’. Recommend

  • Vikram

    These kind of attacks are meant to terrorize people. If these attacks continue, over time, Shias will convert to Sunni Islam, unless they unite and force government to take some action against terrorist organizations. I am not saying conversion will happen next year, may be over next 100 years. Guess, how did Kashmir become a Muslim majority state? Why you think, 10 Pakistani terrorists killed 40 Indian Muslims in Bombay 26/11 terrorists attack?. Recommend

  • Sarwar

    Indeed a very brave writting. I really appreciate the courage and the beautifully explanation by the author.Recommend

  • Xohaib


    Oh! finally you understand han what i want to say in the first place…but your soap is slow (sabun slow hai kiya)…. wht a piece of extremist you are, read my comment again ….. and if unable to understand, get it vet from ur elderlyRecommend

  • Xohaib

    @ayesha alias pundit – India

    Give me a break…. even low caste hindus are killed over there , burnt .. not treated equally any where in your bharat mata….. so please check ur facts and than throw acid from your mouth on our problems….

    and yes what about those christians and missionary people which were burnt alive in their cars in your so called largest democracy of the world?

    What about sikhs genocide? aint this all in the name of religionRecommend

  • haider abbas

    I have only 3 question for the Mr.Suleman Akhtar

    Why this article is written after 6 months of the incident?
    More than 4000 civilians are killed in 2011, out of which 1092 people died in bomb blasts and 548 people died because of US Drone attacks and killing of 96 shias is genocide for you?
    In your article you said that attackers identified, offloaded and killed only shias and didnt killed the other people, can you please tell me how many sunni were in that bus which are not killed ?

    For your information there was no sunni in that bus and the passengers were on a religious pilgrimage to Iran.

    Article like this just increase the gaps & anger of both sides, its not helping at all.

    Aur yeh nafrat aur fasle tab hi khatam hon gai jab hum apne app ko sunni/shia nahin balke aik mulman aur pakistani samjhai gai, aur jab news mein yeh nahin likha hoo ga kai 2 shia/sunni shaeed ho gai balke 2 pakistani ya muslim shaheed hoo gai.

    Aur jin loggon ko yeh mulk pasand nahin ya jo yahanapne app ko safe nahin samjhte, une sae meri guzarish hai kai woh is mulk ko chor ker kahin aur chalein jai aur is mein rehne waloon ko aman aur sakoon sae rehne dein.Recommend

  • Syed Arbab Ahmed

    Allah will judge ‘SECTS’ not us!!! Then why Sectarian violence?

  • farrukh

    @ haider abbas: Why this article is written after 6 months of the incident? hmm you kidding right? 6 months?! where on earth are you? this incident took place 4 days back. Recommend

  • Namita

    @zaid hamid:
    So, are you saying Shias are non-Muslims? Or are you saying that those who are killing the Shias are non-Muslims?Recommend

  • Hassan

    @Ali Nasir:
    Dude you missed the point, neither writer nor any shia celebrate death of ordinary Muslim getting killed in drone attacks or by any other means. I’m sure they condemn it in every possible way and don’t justify it as spokesperson of any foreign funding institute. well, to be more specific it is a fact, Drones don’t attack or Americans don’t kill Sunni’s they kill Muslims. whereas those who are killed in Quetta or else where in this country are killed solely for the reason that they are shia and liable to be killed by Good Muslims. Shame on those who still justify their killings. If Shia’s are not Muslim (as you say) then they are human beings. Recommend

  • Anum Jaffry

    Thank you for coming forward to raise voice for this group of minority.and thankYou,ET, for giving it a place in your columns,as an urgent need.since no media is daring enough to talk about Shia killing. Hope and pray that justice prevails soon.Recommend

  • Vikram

    Ayesha just said Indian Muslims live in peace with each other. You felt if she threw acid on you and you called her a PUNDIT.. She did not mention killing of 3 million people Bangladesh by Pakistani army or genocide of Afghans and Baloch people by Pakistan’s talibans secret service.and army.Recommend

  • sunni gal

    im ashamed to be of a sect dat is intolerant to ma fellows…i’m sorry fellow humans, brothers,sister,parents…Recommend


    @zaid hamid:
    Well its the so called Muslims killing the Muslims though i dont believe them to be humans…Muslim is a word that comes later but you must keep that in mind that its the Muslims that have been killing Muslims…The history says all…!!!Recommend

  • bigsaf

    @haider abbas:

    More than 4000 civilians are killed in 2011, out of which 1092 people died in bomb blasts and 548 people died because of US Drone attacks and killing of 96 shias is genocide for you?

    96? Try thousands since the 80’s. Out of those bomb blasts, many were targeted based on their background. I can bet a good chunk targeted sectarian backgrounds, Shias, Barelvis, Christians, Ahmadis, etc which would be at a disproportional rate to the majority who are rarely targeted for simply being Sunni. While drone massacres continue, which target suspected militants but notoriously also kills our civilians as our state watches and refuses to put boots on the ground, the anti-minority massacres have not abated either.

    For your information there was no sunni in that bus and the passengers were on a religious pilgrimage to Iran.

    You are confusing this recent Northern incident with an older one in Baluchistan. That name checking DID happen, and was a prominent feature when the Taliban captured the Parachinar highway. Even if they were all Shias, did you think it absolved it from being an anti-Shia sectarian massacre? Ridiculous.

    sunni/shia nahin balke aik mulman aur pakistani samjhai gai, aur jab news mein yeh nahin likha hoo ga kai 2 shia/sunni shaeed ho gai balke 2 pakistani ya muslim shaheed hoo gai.

    The fake insincere unity pandering. Until you acknowledge your minority brothers’ pain who are targeted by Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremists, you can forget that fantasy. To solve a problem you have to first identify it instead of lambasting those who correctly report it. Clearly you want to censor and hide it, as the author mentioned earlier due to shallow perspective, and I’ll add prejudice.

    jo yahanapne app ko safe nahin samjhte, une sae meri guzarish hai kai woh is mulk ko chor ker kahin aur chalein jai aur is mein rehne waloon ko aman aur sakoon sae rehne dein.

    Basically not willing to hold terrorists accountable who target the vulnerable, encouraging their exodus from their native land, because it is not your problem and you’re in peace with such ideologues. Got it. Recommend

  • Ali Taj

    The result of the Journalists should wake up like Ayesha Siddiqa says “Shayad Hosh A Jayee” . Stop Pandering and start speaking the truth.

    Author has done a great job.Recommend

  • Ali Nasir


    Neither I nor any sunni celebrate death of Shia Muslim getting killed in mass killing attacks or by any other means. My simple question is that why media always says that some sunni killed some shia, I do have shia friends and they never told me anything like this then why media always tries to become the Mr.Sam and why media always wants to start the war between shia and sunni ?

    Why not media says that some militants killed some people (or some shia people), why media always says that some sunni militiants killed some shia. There are many sunni (peace lover) and they are a good friend with shias then why media always blam on the entire community ? Recommend

  • Ali Taj

    @Ali Nasir:

    You are absolutely right media has to be clear and brave. It is never Sunni killing the Shia it is Terrorist like Malik Ishaq of DPC or LEJ or SSP = ASWJ or others like Jand ul Shaitan. Media people should have the courage to say or find another profession.

    They (media) speak in misleading terms because these groups are armed Malik Ishaq claims to have killed 70 Shia. He was released from the Court after he read the names of the judge’s family members and killed all witnesses against him now he is part of DPC.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    @Ali Nasir:
    Get over the biased defensive immaturity on being more concerned with labels than actual lives. With over thousands of dead through decades, especially minorities, it’s so ridiculous and disingenuous to claim the media is hyping these massacres and making your hegemonic majority community look bad. This biased denialism and complicity does that already.

    Unless you’re a militant, you needn’t worry because no one is saying the WHOLE ENTIRE Sunni community are terrorists. But there are A LOT of militants or terrorists belonging to Wahhab/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremist groups who are targeting and wiping out non-Sunni minorities on sect basis. Part of solving a problem is identifying it, and not doing so is cowardice and complicity and just makes one assume that the supposed ‘peaceful’ members condone such practices because of sect tribalism and anti-minority apathy.

    Great, you and your friends are peace loving, but the reason your minority Shia friends don’t discuss this with you is because it’s such an uncomfortable, sensitive and taboo topic as clearly seen with your revisionist over-reaction denying reality. So please stop denying there aren’t members of Pakistan’s Sunni majority who aren’t prejudiced or bigoted against other communities. The entire community is not being blamed or implicated, but if these denials and complicity continues ignoring minority plight, then you yourself ironically lead to no other conclusion.Recommend

  • Ali Taj

    Great piece, would the author mind if we translate and publish in Urdu with acknowledgement?Recommend

  • Sumaiya Hasan

    Great work!! I would appreciate the author for putting light on such an important issue!! Now this is called a useful blogRecommend

  • Mahira Jadoon

    Thank you Express Tribune for publishing this excellent article. While there is generally either apathy or misrepresentation of the mass Shia killings in Pakistan, this is one of the most honest articles written on the subject. Sensitive and honest. I am also posting a part of a similar article I read on the outspoken LUBP site:

    LUBP has provided a detailed has provided detailed casualty figures for Shias in January 2012;

    This data is also available at other Shia websites and facebook groups – in case our “liberal” media can take time off from self-congratulation and the England-Pakistan cricket series.

    It has also provided detailed analysis on this topic. Refer to:

    Intellectual dishonesty in misrepresenting Shia massacres in Pakistan

    Yet Pakistan’s “liberal” media is more at ease in writing on safe issues or those that can further material advancement. The topic of Shia genocide is off limits because it exposes the role of Pakistan’s security establishment. This is where Pakistan’s “liberal” media has drawn its limits. It is excellent in token gestures, taking up “safe” causes that do not affect the interests of the military establishment. In furthering its financial interests through NGOs and heaping platitudes on each other, Pakistan’s “liberal” media is probably one of the best in the world. However, for the embattled Shia Muslims of Pakistan, they appear to be least bothered. When Pakistan’s liberal and progressive activists stay silent, misrepresent or provide brief, token protest on the Shia genocide taking place, it enables and encourages the Shia-killing Jihadists.

    We can only hope that Pakistan’s influential English media writers take up this issue and present it to the rest of the world.

  • Zahra

    Mr. Suleman Akhtar,

    JazarAllah khairun (thank you) not only for writing this article but with eloquence and evidence. I hope one day we Shias, and ALL minorities in Pakistan can achieve peace and coexistence together. Thanks again. Recommend

  • lover of pak

    This is fact that the shia’s are under the attack in pakistan. The govt. is completely failed to handle this problem whether Balochistan govt. or Sindh govt or federal govt. On the other hand the release of the band outfits organization leaders, who are involved in the persecution of shia’s in pakistan rises a question in every person mind. The attack on the bus of the “zahirin in Mastung ” and recently the same scene in Gilgit, in both incidents the people were indetified and were killed because of their faith. In Balochistan, a specific community is being targeted since 2000 but non of the culprit is arresteed till now. The Balochistna High Court took notice of the major incidents but no satisfactory actions were taken to ensure the public that their lives are not in threat. It is the major responsibility of the govt. to provide security to the life of the people, nut alas our leaders have forgot the public, who elected them as their representatives. God bless pakistan and its people …Recommend

  • Talat Fida

    Since the birth of Pakistan. shias have been treated as step brothers, but we never went for revenge. This killing of shias has grown intensely in recent decades. Specially during the period of Zia ul haq. He was pro-talibanization, he backed these extremists aganist shias.
    But know time has changed, everything has a saturation point, and we are about to it. government should take sincere steps to break down these extremists, so that peace and justice in our country could be restored. We love this country, in fact we gave our blood to strengthen its roots. Our security should be considered as a priority by the ruling government. Otherwise things could go worst.Recommend

  • Ali Mohsin

    Instead of just writing comments here, I have started spreading awareness among the people around me. I discuss the plight of Shias with my colleagues in office, I discuss their being oppressed with my neighbors, I discuss this even when Im buying something from super store. I have the links to these articles on my facebook profile, I have them as my google talk and facebook/twitter updates. People ask about this when they fnd it as my status updates. You guys can do the same!Recommend

  • http://[email protected] M;umtaz Shah

    This is the first time such a realistic article has been written on media. I think we must change our mindset now. We should remember Islam which is religion of peace we have made it source of violence. Thanks for such realistic article..Recommend

  • Super Eye

    Extremely Pathetic and fearful situation for Pakistani Shia community. One way can be that Shia ppl form their own army, train their young adults and give them ammunition. Only this way, woh eent ka jawab pathar se de sakte han !!!Recommend

  • Bakhtiar Agha

    Killings of Shias or of any faith is just killing the humanity,majority of the people hate these happinings. Now the differences between the muslims sects become so worse that, suni sect of Bravali are also targeted, shirnes are bombed. so it can be concluded that a group of rigid minded people is behind these killings…… and may be some religious cum poltical parties sponser them to achive their own goals.
    But not the least supreme court taken sao-moto action against a elected MPA for slaping the election official,but 18 people at Khoistan,Quetta are are shot dead……. No sao-moto……Recommend

  • blog

    shia hav iran so sunnis have pakistan. Recommend

  • Sumaiya Hasan

    @ blog: Shias gave equal sacrifices for the creation of Pakistan just as the sunnis gave sacrifices. I believe that anyone who does not oppose shia killings or even sunnis killings is not in favour of a peaceful PakistanRecommend

  • bigsaf


    shia hav iran so sunnis have pakistan.

    So much for the ‘bhai-bhai’ unity. Consider Pak’s founder himself, Mohd. Ali Jinnah, was a Shiite, as much as bigoted revisionists deny or protest (or in the case of Taliban who ironically accept it and accordingly despise him. They don’t jump through hoops to deny their violent bigoted hate), his vision seems hi-jacked by sectarianism, sectarian dogmatic bigots, supremacists and extremists.

    Pak has undergone Sunnification or Wahhabification/Deobandization since the 80’s. But most Arab, non-Arab, Sunnis, have little to no cultural or geographic affinity, will not claim Pak as ‘theirs’ and laughable. Don’t think Shia Pakistanis appreciate this discriminatory marginalization, cleansing and deportation, due to twisted dogmatic ideology, especially when they are clearly not Persian nor Iranian citizens, and just as Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi, etc, and belong to Pak as much, if not more, as their Sunni counterparts.

    Some twisted persecution complex bigots, conspiracists and anti-minority resenters, may even argue differently. Sunnis have Saudi Arabia because Shias have Pakistan…different deluded revisionist statement, same prejudice and reasons to discriminate and worse. Recommend