How much killing is too much?

Published: May 20, 2012
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Life for minorities living in Pakistan is grinding to a screeching halt. PHOTO: FILE

The Pakistani flag  is an emblem of freedom and independence for all Pakistanis. The star and the crescent symbolise light and progress respectively. The dark green represents Pakistan’s Muslim population, and since this is a majority, the green covers the greater amount of the flag. The white strip on the side represents the country’s minority groups.

For a moment, dear reader, just imagine the green side overlapping and taking over the white until the entire flag is green. Bold and unimaginable isn’t it?

However, this image isn’t far from the truth. It depicts what is happening right now in Pakistan, where every minority is high on the genocide list.

In the words of Nitin Pai, the white stripe on Pakistan’s flag is indeed being eaten up.

On May 15, two Hazaras were killed and one was injured in Quetta. On April 3, nine Shia passengers were taken off a bus in Gilgit and executed. This was after a grenade attack on an anti-Shia rally in the same area killed four people and injured almost another 50. This is everyday news, and one doesn’t even bat an eyelid at these figures any more.

Sadly, the Shia sect is not the only one being targeted.

In the past, the Christian, Ahmadi and Hindu communities have experienced sectarian violence too. The treatment of Pakistan’s minorities has never been good, but, in the last few years, things have gone from hostile to absolutely intolerant.

Our religion, Islam, teaches us patience, tolerance and respect for the faith practised by others.

Why, then, are we so averse to any opinion that doesn’t match ours?

Why has our government remained helpless?

Why is there a prevalent attitude of utter indifference when we watch minorities being mistreated?

Nitin Pai analysed some reports about several Pakistani Hindu families seeking asylum in India. He says,

Compiling figures from Sindhi language newspapers, Marvi Sirmed, a Pakistani writer and activist, has estimated that 3,000 Hindu girls have been abducted and converted to Islam in the province. Christian families have been forced to flee after charges of blasphemy were levelled against their members.

Yet, all the government does is promise greater help, but these are just empty words with no impact.

Didn’t our founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, express his desire for every Pakistani citizen, whether male or female, Muslim or Christian or Hindu – to be treated as an equal?

Nazir Bhatti, editor of the Pakistan Christian Post and an activist, has experienced such traumatic events that he has been forced to flee Pakistan for his own safety.

On February 13 1997, Bhatti was on the streets, taking part in a peaceful protest. Things turned rather nasty as police fired shots into the crowd and began to use tear gas. The attacks killed one and three were injured. Bhatti was singled out by police being the leader of the procession.

“Twenty-one false cases were filed against me in two hours,” he said, adding that murder and blasphemy being amongst the charges.

“The police launched FIRs against 383 people that night”.

Bhatti then spent the year of 1998 hiding in Lahore and Islamabad, waiting, hoping that the cases would be withdrawn.

For someone who is a minority, fighting a case against the majority wasn’t an option.

“Getting bail for 21 serious charges would have been next to impossible,” he said.

In 1998, Bhatti left Pakistan and has been in the US ever since.

The term genocide shouldn’t be used  loosely.

Nitin Pai says,

Genocide specifically means “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

It includes killing people on account of belonging to a group; causing them serious bodily or mental harm; deliberately inflicting conditions to destroy the group in whole or in part; preventing births and transferring children by force.

At the moment, considering the current situation, Pakistan falls under most of the above stated description. The question is; how much more of this is to take place for some action to be taken?

To quote Bob Dylan,

‘How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?’

Read more by Aneka here, or follow her on Twitter @anekachohan

aneka.chohan

Aneka Chohan

The author is a freelance journalist and human rights activist. She tweets as @anekachohan (twitter.com/anekachohan)

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

  • BlackJack

    This issue has been discussed ad nauseum, but I will still give my 2 cents: Pakistan was created as a homeland for the muslims of the sub-continent – the identity of Pakistan is thus predicated on Islam (let us not split hairs). It is not therefore, unreasonable (despite the little white band and one among Jinnah’s variety of speeches), for those muslims to believe that they have the sole right over the land and resources, and that everyone who does not conform is an interloper, an infidel or an apostate; and any actions taken to remove these individuals yet another step in terms of creating a purer, stronger Islamic state. Questions to the contrary merely create an identity crisis that can have no peaceful resolution. Ignoring the Hindus and Christians for a second, the funny (yet sad) aspect is that the Shias and Ahmadiyyas who would have celebrated Pakistan’s creation as a secure muslim homeland now find themselves classified as minorities as per this article.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Who in God’s green earth is Nitin Pai to comment on whats going on in Pakistan.??? Oh Dear Lord he is an Indian is it…?? Oh yes all the right granted then.. Absolutely let some other Indian Com in join in the fun not for the sake of argument but just to have a field day.. Ok here they come. Patrolling or trolling inRecommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Nitin Pai is founder and fellow for geopolitics at the Takshashila Institution, an independent think tank on strategic affairs. O yeah he must absolutely be right about Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sumaiya

    it’s not only the minority. if you read the newspaper or watch the tv really carefully, you’ll notice that the muslims are being killed a lot more than the minorities. these m.q.m people and other political parties figures that are being killed on a regular basis, they’re muslims. stupid media. stupid tribune blogs -especially this one.Recommend

  • ashar

    completely biased and sick minded approach. Still beating about the bush against the willfull conversions of hindu girls. I advise you to come out of your self generated phobia and try something else than minorities, marital rape, type of topics which only find ways to malign muslims or islam since this is a country of muslims therefore the overall responsibility can easily be placed on the shoulders of majority poeple of Pakistan and evantually their religion is attacked.
    I still belive minorities are far better treated in Pakistan than France and also India. who claims to be a secular country. Cant you see the reaction of ball Thaakeray upon the incident of Shahrukh Khan was only because he carries a muslim name no matter what is the status of religious beliefs he has? What would be their treatment to common muslim?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Important subject and nicely written.
    It is difficult for one to see atrocities being committed in the name of religion, especially one’s own. So the easy way out is to adopt the denial mode of response and by doing so the malaise just grows. What has happened is that we as a people have become more pious but not better.
    My view on this is that this process of religious extremism is now irreversible and because it is flawed, will implode on itself. The disservice this process will do to Islam is any one’s guess. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Important topic and nicely written.
    It is difficult to watch atrocities being committed in the name of one’s religion. The easiest way to address this is to go into a state of denial. This only helps the malaise get worse.
    Since the 70’s we as a people have got pious but not good.
    This process of religious extremism associated with deplorable acts, is flawed and because if this it will implode on itself. The dis-service to the religion and its implications is a subject worthy of debate. Recommend

  • WhiteJack

    @BlackJack:
    Questions to the contrary merely create an identity crisis that can have no peaceful resolution. Ignoring the Hindus and Christians for a second, the funny (yet sad) aspect is that the Shias and Ahmadiyyas who would have celebrated Pakistan’s creation as a secure muslim homeland now find themselves classified as minorities as per this article.

    It is common sense; if Shias are so insecure then why do they hold large rallies; instead they shouldn’t leave their homes but they prefer to go on streets. It is funny but true, right.Recommend

  • Agnes Massey

    Dear fellow-human beigns:

    According to my knowledge, no religion teaches killing other fellow human being and
    according to Islam “To kill one person is to kill the whole humanity.”

    Christianity is a very peaceful religion and according to the 10 commandments of GOD
    “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”

    Let every body live like one family in humanity and solve matters without killing each
    other and let the world remain most worthy place to live

    Agnes Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed

    @BlackJack: You very well summed up the absurd consequences of creating a country for one religion. Your blunt assertion of the right flowing from the premise of a country for a religion , and your rueful admission of certain ironies there in betray juvenile knavery prone to revel in Arab style fanatic acts . Recommend

  • politically incorrect

    @Fahad Raza

    Nitin Pai has only quoted Mervi Sirmad (who is a Pakistani).Recommend

  • V n SrivastavaVns

    there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan .Is India not their homeland.if Pakistan wants to be modern state it must ,it must treat its as equal Recommend

  • Sane

    @Agnes Massey
    Fully agree; none of the religion teaches killing each other. In Islam killing one person means killing whole humanity. Misguided people are there in every religion.Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    People, minorities aren’t the only one’s being killed, even Non-Religious Sunni-Islam’s are killed for not being religious or on false accusations of blasphamey, it never stops at any level. No one even notices the death threats we Non Practicing Sunni Muslims get for our way of life. Recommend

  • WhiteJack

    @Agnes Massey:
    Christianity is a very peaceful religion and according to the 10 commandments of GOD
    “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”
    Let every body live like one family in humanity and solve matters without killing each
    other and let the world remain most worthy place to live

    Then why US, UK, France & other developed nations are killing numerous innocent persons during search for few people in Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan. Ironically they call it war against terror. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @politically incorrect:
    But is he(Nitin P) the right person to comment.. when he is like an indian Zaid Hamid???Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @WhiteJack:

    Wrong. It’s untrue and not funny. Pakistani citizens of all creeds should have a right to leave their homes in peace, and the right to assemble in peace without being massacred.

    The rallies are religious processions that have taken place even before the formation of Pakistan. Despite the incredible insecurity for the largest non-Sunni Pakistani community group, to which Jinnah belonged to, they’re brave enough to manage to hold these processions despite conservative Sunni hegemony and right-wing Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremists.

    What next? No going out for shopping or work because of these terrorists? And if you suggest to stay at only places of worship, they ‘shockingly’ get bombed too.

    Instead of debunking BlackJack’s claim of Shiites being discriminated minorities in Pak, you exposed the usual bigoted resentment and prejudiced view on your dislike of their public presence.

    @Tribune Reader:

    Seems like Niemoller’s poem being played out in Nazi Pakistan….First they came for…Recommend

  • WhiteJack

    @bigsaf:
    Wrong. It’s untrue and not funny. Pakistani citizens of all creeds should have a right to leave their homes in peace, and the right to assemble in peace without being massacred.
    The rallies are religious processions that have taken place even before the formation of Pakistan. Despite the incredible insecurity for the largest non-Sunni Pakistani community group, to which Jinnah belonged to, they’re brave enough to manage to hold these processions despite conservative Sunni hegemony and right-wing Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremists.
    What next? No going out for shopping or work because of these terrorists? And if you suggest to stay at only places of worship, they ‘shockingly’ get bombed too.
    Instead of debunking BlackJack’s claim of Shiites being discriminated minorities in Pak, you exposed the usual bigoted resentment and prejudiced view on your dislike of their public presence.

    You misunderstood my reply to BlackJack. My point was Shiites don’t feel insecure in Pakistan & large public gatherings of Shiites not only show their courage but also confirms their safety in Pakistan. Being in minority doesn’t make Shiites insecure in Pakistan. Shiites are free to perform their religious obligations in any manner they want. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    @WhiteJack:

    Sorry, wrong again and strongly disagree. Its unethical denial for confirmation bias. The gathering confirms bravery, not security, due to the incredible amount needed to ward off terror. They try to carry on with religious and patriotic zeal. Historically the country was relatively sect tolerant since Jinnah’s time, who himself was Shiite. But since the 80’s, right wing Wahhabi extreme narrative gained critical mass among a Sunni majority which increased discrimination and prejudice, including violent anti-Shia bigotry.

    If you haven’t noticed, there are bomb blasts in processions and massacres. Muharram is the most tense Islamic month in the year. Everyone expects violence, especially the Shiites. There was one recently as 2012 in RYK. How do you claim they’re truly free and secure? It doesn’t stop in Muharram. Killings are year round. Shias are statistically disproportionately targeted in different parts of the country by Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni ideological militants, be it Gilgit, FATA, Parachinar, Karachi, DGK, DIK, Quetta, etc. Its dishonest or unjust in downplaying or denying the stark and critical reality just to ease the cognitive bias. Let’s not be ignorant or apathetic any more.

    http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/sect-killing.htmRecommend

  • Sunny

    @ Sumaiya,

    your comment is not a valid comment instead it is an excuse to hide the atrocities against minorities, the only problem Pakistan faces is that we don’t accept that problems exist once we accept the problems we will start solving them.Recommend

  • Sunny

    @ Sumaiya,

    the killings you are talking about are to everybody irrespective of religeon because these are personal enemities or target killings in karachi so all pakistanis are exposed to such killings. but let me tell you minorities face two types of killings 1) General killings as a whole 2) targeted due to religeon, forced conversions general discrimination in the society. try to evaluate neutrally don’t be biased. Recommend

  • Sunny

    @ Ashar,

    Joke of the Millenium, Minorities are safer in Pakistan then US UK France. didn’t you read the news yesterday hindu temple attacked in peshawar, a hindu pujari kidnapped etcRecommend

  • politically incorrect

    @Fahad Raza

    ‘But is he(Nitin P) the right person to comment.. ‘

    You are still missing the point I made.
    What you reffer to as a ‘comment’ was actually a ‘quote’ (ref.Marvi Sirmed).
    Hope you undestand the difference.Recommend

  • No offense

    @ashar:
    If you follow Bal Thaakre (not ball thaakeray) so much in Pak then you will also remember his comment on Sachin Tendulkar on tsunami fund raising when Sachin auctioned his bat instead of direct help and Amitabh Bacchan when he became brand ambassador to UP.
    Both Sachin and Bacchan are Hindu and highly honoured by Indians than SRK.
    SRK got exactly what he deserves and if it was the case of mis treatment of minorities then where were you when entire foreign ministry of India arose in condemning his scene on US airport .Recommend

  • Sunny

    @ No Offence,

    well repliedRecommend

  • http://merapassionpakistan.com/ Ayesha Rizvi

    One should rewrite history of Pakistan. We are an independent country now we no longer need weapons and killing. We all share the same home our motherland for which our ancestors left and sacrifice everything precious to them. Pen should be given more importance then weapons. We need our youth to step forward and build the nation with their innovative minds.Recommend

  • Noise

    @WhiteJack
    It is common sense; if Shias are so insecure then why do they hold large rallies; instead they shouldn’t leave their homes but they prefer to go on streets. It is funny but true, right.

    Because Shias are no strangers to discrimination, we have been resisting the Sunnis attempts to force us reject our past and conform to their unrealistic historical views for a thousand years yet we are still standing. If you push us we will push back.Recommend