G-B massacre: When will Pakistan really win independence?

Published: August 17, 2012

Each and every citizen of this country counts and this is Pakistan under attack. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is a natural splendour which Pakistan boasts as a tourist attraction for foreigners and expats. This mountainous terrain is adorned with snow capped  peaks, lush valleys and rivers that could revitalise your very soul. This place was heaven on earth; this place exists no more.

G-B, which once stood as the most appealing attraction for tourists now stands amongst one of the most neglected regions of the world. Eaten away by sectarianism, extremism and militancy, our lush valleys of the North are embedded with fear and vulnerability. The presence of militant factions and clashes between rival sects have become the causal route for disruption and disarray. Militant intrusion has led to civil war and carnage amongst the once peaceful people of G-B and continues to plague the people even today.

The government has been an anesthetised spectator in the recurring events of bloodshed in G-B. Within the span of a few months, three such incidents of terrorism have taken place in Gilgit with the most recent of them having taken place yesterday, August 16, 2012. A bus travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, was stopped by a dozen gunmen. The terrorists, disguised in army uniforms stopped three vehicles, checked the papers, searched them and picked up people in three batches of five, six and nine. These people, handpicked, were all Shias and were all shot dead in cold blood.

Although August 16, 2012 was a tumultuous day for Pakistan, with the attack on Kamra Air base having taken place paralysing the entire country for the day, this fear and paralysis is felt by the inhabitants of G-B on a daily basis.

The government sprung into action when the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack on the airbase in Kamra, but when the same militant group took responsibility for the attack on G-B citizens why had the government not responded? Why have they not made a statement yet apologising for the lax attitude it has that cost 20 people their lives?  Why was there not an iota of regret shown by the protectors of this nation? Why have the people of G-B been left to fend for themselves?

UN leader, Ban Ki-moon, was the first figure of authority to have expressed his concern for the people of Gilgit. Is it not a shame that we the citizens, our government and military have remained silent about the concurrent attacks taking place on our people?

I wonder which of the two incidents were used as smoke screens or distractions from the other. Had the situation been under control in G-B to begin with, had the government reacted firmly to the first incident of its kind, innocent lives would have been spared from being used as mere props for a larger objective, 20 lives of Shiite Muslims would have been saved and 20 families would be at peace today.

Kamra was attacked and two of our brave soldiers lost their lives along with millions of rupees in losses. But 20 men lost their lives on the same day too, in an incident that could have and should have been prevented.

What the government and army need to realise is the importance of solving the increasingly deplorable situation in G-B and its effect on the rest of Pakistan. Every part of Pakistan is linked together and the militants realise this better than we do ourselves – every attack that takes place on any part of Pakistan is form of revenge and dissuasion tactic used by the extremists. Deploying soldiers ready to wage war may just have been the easy way out, a way that hasn’t been seen working very well. This is the third incident that has taken place in seven months bringing the count to 47 people to have lost their lives. 47 distraught families left in shambles and 47 families used as weapons and examples by militants. How could the defenders of this nation allow these acts to take place?

Each and every citizen of this country counts. The Hindu families who left were Pakistan; the Christian women harassed for blasphemy are Pakistan; the Shiite men shot in Gilgit are Pakistan; the Ahmadis killed in Lahore were Pakistan and the soldiers who lost their lives in Kamra were Pakistan. This is Pakistan under attack.

Independence Day was celebrated on the August 14, and only two days later were we given a stark reminder of our imprisonment. Does the presence of militancy and extremism not negate freedom? When will our liberation army awaken and when will we be free again?

Read more by Erum here or follow her on Twitter  @shaikherum


Erum Shaikh

The writer is Blogs Editor at The Express Tribune and has an Undergraduate Degree in Law from the University of London. She tweets @shaikherum (twitter.com/shaikherum)

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

  • farrukh sajjad

    Massacre in babusar
    Yet another horrific atrocity took place in the broad day light against the defenseless and innocent Shia Muslims of Gilgit/Baltistan. Once again the state security apparatus failed to protect them. The intelligence and security apparatus who are fed on the direct and indirect taxes of people and are supposed to protect the life and property of the citizens of this unfortunate republic were again found caught napping. This time the ghastly crime took place in the earthly paradise of Babusar, clearly indicating that terrorist infrastructure have got a strong foot hold in hitherto peaceful valley of Kaghan.
    While there is no hope that the terrorists who committed this cowardly and inhuman act in the holy month of Ramadan could be ever deterred and refrained from committing such atrocious crimes, it is reprehensible that our security apparatus had facilitated them in committing this crime in ease and comfort as they did it earlier in Kohistan and Chilas. No heads were rolled at that time and no serious effort were made at that time to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future. The military establishment also does not give much importance to these acts as they found them not detrimental to the national security.
    It is regretful that the savagery and inhumanity displayed in such types of incidents is never exposed by the media. These incidents are deliberately made palatable by the media and law enforcement agencies by portraying them as of sectarian nature. Though such horrific incidents are nothing but plain terrorism. The portrayal of such incidents as sectarian attack make the general public particularly those belong to majority sect either neutral or sometimes sympathetic to the position of terrorists.
    Now what could be the possible aim of the religion based terrorists to commit such acts. One of them is rooted in the ideology of Takfiri school of thought, so they motivate their cadres to do as much shia killing as possible. This would not only provide them soft targets but would also keep their spirits and morale high. Secondly for the strategic reason they want shias to be driven out from the strategically important areas of Gilgit, Baltistan, Kurram valley and also Quetta. The only reason to drive them out from these areas is to establish their unopposed hold in these areas and carry on terrorist activities not against their own people but against other countries like China, Iran, and Afghanistan. The terrorist elements know very well that the only community who would check their advances and encroachments would be shias, as witnessed in Parachinar. The third reason is giving signal to other communities who are opposed to the talibani world view to take the lessons from the sufferings of shias and come to terms with their world view. Fourthly they want to tear apart the unity and cohesion of Pakistan and want to slide it into chaos and sectarianism.
    It would still be not too late if our security and military establishment as well as political leadership woke up from their deep slumber and take some practical steps to heal the wounds of people of Gilgit and Baltistan in particular and shias in general. The apathy and indifference of state apparatus is driving them to wall. There are possibilities that if the state does not initiate meaningful steps to assuage their wounds, they may also launch a separatist movements in the lines of disgruntled youth of Balouchitan and which may be encouraged and abetted by none other than India. The two factors preventing them is their deep attachment to Pakistan and influence of moderate Ulema who shun the idea of any terrorist activity and alliance with India. However the separatist currents cannot be held in abeyance ever. The India is just sitting next door and they are more than willing to provide any type of logistical support, which may provide them an opportunity to get revenge of their own festering wound of Kashmir.
    So what are the solutions? Nothing but zero tolerance against militancy by arresting them, prosecuting them and punishing them and also dismantling the terror infrastructure comprising of financers, supporters of terrorists in Government agencies, and the intellectuals/alims supporting the terrorists. The terrorists seldom get any punishment as most of their convictions are over turned in Supreme Court due to technical reasons. However in the lone case where the Supreme Court also upheld the sentence of trial court the execution of terrorist was unduly stayed by the President in June 2012, with the only aim to pressurize the family of victim into compromise. The patriotic people of Gilgit and Baltistan are not asking for moon, what they want is to live with dignity and honor in accordance with their own traditions and to be left alone from the self imposed champions of Islam. Recommend

  • butt jee

    Massacre of Muslims in Quetta and now in Babusar is the handiwork of those terrorists who are being used by the intelligence agencies of our neighboring countries for their devilish designs. We must admit that this incident is the result of our intelligence failure. The Government has also failed in providing protection to its citizens. Unfortunately this Government has no time to attend to the threats to our national security. The rulers are spending their day and nights in thwarting the Supreme court orders. The time and energy which our rulers have spent on defiance of supreme court orders could have been utilized for working out plans for fighting terrorism and enhancing the level of security for various sects in our society.Recommend

  • Ahmad Jan

    The video in this story was a scene from the incident that took place in Chilas in April this year.. You can clearly see who are the mobs and how they are attacking on passengers….. after all these clear evidence the Difa-e-Pakistan & JuD leader Hafiz Saeed says on media that India is behind G-B violence… Open you eyes Hafiz sahab and see the truth.. Recommend

  • alicia

    What is annoying is all these people mixing this up with Burma, Chechnya and Kashmir.

    What is the point of independence day if we are crying day and night for other countries but cannot speak up for our fellow Pakistanis. The true meaning of 14th August was lost some where along the way.

    We can’t really stop what happens in other countries but that doesn’t hold us back from taking out rallies; facebook and twitter posts,having million marches for them. Where are the facebook statuses for this incident? Where are the school children holding placards to support shia’s who live and breathe amongst us?

    Why can’t we send a strong message to terrorists that we won’t tolerate the killings of our citizens. That us Pakistanis stand by other Pakistanis not terrorists.Recommend

  • Akhter

    Independance what independance?Recommend

  • ss

    UN leader, Ban Ki-moon, was the first figure of authority to have expressed his concern for the people of Gilgit. Is it not a shame that we the citizens, our government and military have remained silent about the concurrent attacks taking place on our people?//

    we are too busy condemning killing of Burmese MUSLIMS, we are suffering from longsightedness, besides they are Kuffars and land of Pure should get rid of all impuritiesRecommend

  • Parvez

    Your cry for action is falling on deaf ears. Those who can do something, will not because…………………Recommend

  • Vikram

    @farrukh sajjad:
    Secondly for the strategic reason they want shias to be driven out from the strategically important areas of Gilgit, Baltistan, Kurram valley and also Quetta.

    What strategic reason are you talking about? How Shias living in these areas make a difference?
    They just consider Shias non-Muslims and want their properties. This is ethnic cleansing. Best way to make people leave certain areas is killing 2-3 dozen people at a time. Recommend

  • G Indian

    According to Government of India, Gilgit-Baltistan is technically a part of India and hence the Shia residents who got massacred were technically Indians. Govt of India should at the minimum protest this ongoing genocide, but it wont happen as the current spineless Indian government’s only focus is to form trade and business relationship with Pakistan and they are in no mood to jeopardize the current honeymoon. The future of Afpak after US withdrawal looks terrible as the drones are the only thing that keep the Talib rag heads under leash. OIC is a joke and Arabs don’t care if some third world Muslims blew up each other. Pakistan will end up fighting an internal war with no sympathy from the outside world. Only the professional Pakistan army can bring the situation under control. Taliban psychopaths are no match for a modern 500,000 plus army. It is still not late.Just imagine the bright future of Pakistan after 20 more Independence days. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf


    Read the articles above and you get the idea of how institutionalized sectarian discrimination and bigotry is in Pak’s administration in G-B, even to the point of rationalizing the violence.

    It shouldn’t be shocking any more.

    The majority non-Sunni population of Gilgit-Baltistan have been under a Sunni-Deoband hegemony from Islamabad since forever, and of course, since the 80’s, the Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremist militants have made life hell.

    Considering that a recent Pew research where only 50% of the majority Sunni Pakistanis see their Shia counterparts as Muslims, the future looks bleak for any non-Sunni Muslim or non-Muslim denomination, as extreme right-wing views catch on and go mainstream and Sunni moderates dwindle. Recommend

  • butt jee

    @Ahmad Jan:
    Foreign intelligence agencies always employ local disgruntled elements for subversive and terrorist activities. People with low moral values can always be bought with money. Such people do receive the money but most of the times they do not know that with their terrorist acts they are being used by the hostile intelligence agencies for their nefarious designs. These are mostly the criminals who are available as paid agents otherwise no Muslim can ever think of murdering an innocent person and that too in the holy month of Ramadan. Recommend

  • S K Afridi

    In response to the comments above, particularly by my Indian friends, I would like to assert that such incidents are not entirely sectarian in nature. Some religious intolerance can be seen in every society. In fact in India you can notice wide spread religious intolerance particularly against the Muslims. Every now and then we have large scale genocide of innocent Muslims in various areas of India. These days poor Bengali Muslims are being killed in Assam. Earlier we had a large scale killings in Gujrat. There are large number of Hindu extremist parties who are always fanning hatred against the Muslims. Indian held Kashmir has seen two decades of India’s state sponsored terrorism against innocent men, women and children. In Pakistan, killing of people on sectarian grounds was never a very serious problem till Afghanistan was occupied by the foreign forces. With the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan, it has become easier for the hostile intelligence agencies to their dirty work in Pakistan. But I am sure this nation will not tolerate a few foreign agents playing in the hands of Intelligence Agencies of our neighboring countries. There are certain extremist religious elements who may also be involved in fanning religious intolerance but they are always condemned and rejected by the vast majority of Pakistanis, All our religious parties representing various sects are united against sectarianism. Even today these parties are united and may form a coalition for fighting the coming elections. While we are mourning the murder of our twenty two Muslim brothers from Gilgit, we shall not relent on our resolve to punish the culprits for their heinous crimes. Recommend

  • Muhammad

    I think Nematulla Sha Ghazi’s predicted many centuries ago about this this dark time. Someone wants GB people to start an armed struggle against Pakistan. They are playing with GB peoples patients! Army needs some balls to stand up against foreign agents involvement in the internal affairs of the country! Its time to mobilize all and every unit of army and wife out these terrorist.Recommend

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    Regards for this post, I am a big fan of this site would like to continue updated.Recommend

  • http://maisamasif.blogspot.com Maisam Merchant

    RIP Shaheed Qari Hanif. I remember the day when Qari Hanif was reciting Quran at my house and my neighbors knocked the door and asked “Who is this Qari with such a Great Voice”.Recommend

  • leo

    The Secular Junta should also be taken care of now. They had been agitating people from behind the scene for a long time!

    They are responsible for it!Recommend

  • leo

    @farrukh sajjad:
    Secular Criminal Junta that is ruling Pakistan, creates these type of problems. Musharraf , a war criminal, seller of his own people as well as other criminal Secularists. They directly and covertly are responsible for this madness!

    They are the real terrorists within and have to be taken care of if People of Pakistan want to have any peace!

    Enough is Enough!Recommend

  • AK

    When you seep every heart with hatred and distort every mind with prejudice, you are going to self destruct. Whatever goal was initially designed, be it bleeding India or dominating Afghanistan, it’s all blurred now. The poison is spreading to the whole body….Recommend

  • Cynical


    I commend every word that you said. But I think most of us well meaning people just scratch the surface and make opaque statements. The malice is much deeper. A culture of violence has taken root among a frightenly large section of people. That is not to say that most of them are actively violent, but surely very many of them are silent sympathisers.It’s a cultural orientation where ends justify the means.Nothing happens in a vaccum. Do you think Nazis in Germany could have done what they did without the tacit support of the German populace (at least a sizable proportion of them)?
    The belief that violence pays were instilled in our psyche a long time ago, almost at the time of birth of this nation. Recommend

  • politically incorrect


    Well said.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Pakistan need to pull out military from cities and out of cantonments which the Brits built to control and occupy the land. Demilitarise the land and let the people give the freedom to be responsibility for order in the communitities. The police should follow the orders of the local elected ladership. Civil servents such as commissioners be eliminated. This is the way to bring peace in the land; the status quo of the colonial times, reinforced by local police and the military is no longer sustainable. The alternative is more radicalisation and the talibanisation of the entire country which could create a second Somalia or Yemen in not very far distance.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Ahsan Raza

    Such acts of barbarity defy the very principles that define humanity. It appears that we as Muslims have so entrapped ourselves in the nitty gritty of religion, that we have forgotten its very essence in the process-ie the pleasure of Allah through the pleasure of His creation.Being a Shia Muslim myself, it would be unfair not to state the reports coming from the region that the Sunni Muslims onboard the bus refused to identify the people for slaughter and lost their lives in the process. Honestly, Pakistan has suffered enough over the past 30 years due to the filth that causes Muslims to quarrel among one another. This has to stop!Recommend